Age is but a number! What we can all learn about health, longevity and fitness through the experiences of an 83 year old.

Meet Alex Shaw, 60 years ago he ran with Sir Peter Snell when he broke the 4 min mile record in 1962. Now at 83 he walked the milford track with me. How has his focus on fitness and health served his well throughout the years and how is still getting out there and getting after it every single day. Whats his secret to long life, lets find out. 

DB: To start I had a hard time keeping up with you on the Milford Track, you did a pretty good job.

AS: Well as they say age is but a number, isn’t it? But I do keep myself quite fit, so yes you have done well to keep up with me. (laughs)

DB: I want you to cast your mind back if you can. When you were a young kid. I know that you used to run to school with your brother. is that where the passion and love of the art form of running came from?

AS: Yes we’ve been running ever since we’re little kids, running all over the vicinity where we lived, over the hills and we used to run to and from school every day. It was just a big part of my life.

DB: I guess you kind of realised you were good at it, representing Waikato and 18 years old all of a sudden you’re racing with the biggest names in New Zealand and certainly at the time, these names went on to be the biggest names in the world. Tell us about how you got the call up to run alongside Sir Peter when he broke that record? 

AS: I lived in the Waikato but went up to Auckland from time to time to run and race, and they’re always happy to have me and so I can thank the Whanganui organisers for that they paid my way down and my accommodation. So, it was my idea, but they were very pleased to have it.

DB: All of a sudden, you’re running with Sir Peter Snell, as he tries to break the four-minute mile. How did you get included in that race? And what did you share with your Dad at the end of it. 

AS: Well its funny when I came back from Wanganui, Dad asked me how my run had gone, and I said I was pretty disappointed with my time, it was a pretty slow time for me and I was so disappointed but he said, don’t be disappointed this is probably going to be the most memorable race you’ve ever had. And it is.

DB: To see Sir Peter Snell run that time, what was the experience like being there on the world stage on the day of such a monumental event for Kiwis.

AS: Well people were expecting him to break the four-minute mile thats how we are sometimes as kiwis but then he didn’t just break the four-minute mile he set a new world record, which kind of amazed everyone,there was a huge crowd there, and the atmosphere was just so incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that.

DB: Well that was a long time ago, 62 years. Now here you are still strong and fit. Its one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you, that early passion for fitness how much do you think that’s played into you being so strong and fit as an eighty-two year old?

AS: It’s been a real way of life for myself and my brother who was only a year older that me aand we just continued running, I mean we ran everywhere. And just over life I have continued to run that was my recreation, you know, and I’m still running as a recreation my times are not quite as good nowadays.

DB: When you look back at that race all those years ago, of the 7 or so guys that were in that race with you a lot of them aren’t even here anymore.

AS: Yeah, there was seven in the race and I’m the only one still trotting around anywhere. I think Murry Goldberg is the only survivor and he’s, you know, not doing very well at the moment.

DB: Well what advice would you give to people that are out there or that are getting a little older. I mean, certainly some days I don’t feel like getting up and going for a run and I’m a little bit younger than you. What advice would you give Alex, to people out there that are sort of going, how do I keep at it? If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s a funny saying, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. 83 years young, and I can hardly keep up with you. So, what advice would you give?

AS: In natural fact, if you go for a run or walk virtually every day, it’s so easy and becomes a way of life. If you let it slip too often, you’ll let it slip more and it becomes actually a lot harder and feel like a job instead of fun. So, it’s just consistency for me. I’m out in the rain and I’ve actually run in the snow that wasn’t very nice. It’s just a matter of not backing out just because of the weather or you’re busy or too tired and the more you do it, it may make you more able to go more often.

DB: We’re going to end with gratitude. You know, 83 years on the planet, lots of family, I met a lot of them down there on the Milford Track, what are the things that you’re grateful?

AS: What I’m really grateful for is my good health.  it’s something you just can’t imagine its been so good to me, having good health and I’ve got a lovely family, two fit daughters who go for runs too and I’m very happy with how it’s all turned out.

DB: We have gratitude for you Alex such a legend, 83 years old, and still going strong. I will look forward to hopefully joining you on the Kepler track as we have made that plan right?

AS: Okay, well don’t leave it too long Dom. Never know it might be too late.

DB: Yeah, exactly. Thanks.

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