Sometimes the relationship between a son-in-law and mother-in-law can be interesting to say the least.
Chris Hanson, 44, the Brainerd Warriors Nordic skiing co-head coach, and his 72-year-old mother-in-law Kathy Peterson of Outing have developed a bond that has been enhanced by a mutual enjoyment in competitive running.
The two recently won the men's and women's divisions of the 24th annual Feet for Fools 5-kilometer race sponsored by Bob and Jeanne Larson in Brainerd on the Fourth of July.
Neither ran competitively in high school. Kathy didn't start running until 34 years ago when she was 38. Chris, a Nordic ski racer in high school, didn't start running until he was 19, about the time he met his eventual wife Laura, Kathy's daughter.
Their common love of running has led to a fun-spirited bond and mutual pride for one another which was evident in a recent interview.
"There is a way that they measure time for each age group based on world record time for that age group," said Chris. "Ninety percent is world time and 80 percent is national qualifying time. For a 44-year-old guy like me, it's insanely fast so my percentage is down in the 60 percentages, but for her age, Kathy will routinely run in the 80-90 percents. Her highest was 89 percent so she's running national class times."
Kathy was quick to point out her pride in Chris as a runner, coach, father, husband, and yes, as a son-in-law. Over the years, the two have competed in the same race several times, but enjoy even more the time they spend running and training together.
"We recently ran over 11 miles together training for the Nisswa Marathon," said Chris. "There aren't many 44-year-old guys running more than 10 miles with their mother-in-law training for a marathon."
Kathy placed second for her age group in that race, mainly due to the final age bracket being for age 60 and older.
"In races that are 60 and over, because I'm 72, I'm racing against people that are 12 years younger than me," Kathy said.
"It's kind of nice because the older you get, you never have to compete against the fastest, young kid out there," Chris noted.
"I did beat him once in a marathon," Kathy said. "That was in the late 1980s in the Twin Cities. I passed him at the end."
"You have to understand though that Kathy is the top-ranked 70-year-old runner in the state of Minnesota," Chris added. "For myself, I'm just a little fish in a big pond. To get any publicity, I have to hang out with her."
"Many times when we hang out in various groups, people will say, 'Oh you're Kathy Peterson's son-in-law, aren't you. Only once in a while will someone say to her 'You're Chris Hanson's mother-in-law aren't you?'"
Kathy runs three days a week and walks the other days. Chris runs about five days a week depending on his schedule and for longer distances.
"I'm training for a 50-mile run in Duluth," he said. "I hope to be done in 10 hours and then do a 100-mile race in September. I ran my first trail marathon in about '93 and had so much fun that I've been doing them ever since."
Kathy has done many national relay races with a group of women over the age of 60 including some 200-mile relay events in Oregon, Alaska and New Hampshire where team members run 20-mile legs.
"My Alaska leg was from 12:30 to 2:30 (a.m.) running on the Klondike Trail," she said. "It was pitch dark and you had no idea what was on the side of the trail where there were bears or moose."
She has also cultivated many friends around her age with whom she goes to races. She is running a quarter-marathon in August in Oregon with a 69-year-old friend who has done marathons on every continent and is now trying to run a marathon in every state.
She ran in 10 races last year but used to run in about 30 in some years.
"You just don't have any other hobbies," Chris teased. "You just go from one race to the next. I'm more tempered because my wife tells me here's your budget for the year so I kind of have to pick and choose.
"I would love to run in races like that, but I would need a sponsor to compete like that. Thank goodness we have Bob and Jeanne (Larson) here to put on low cost races."
Kathy added that "A lot of (the Larson's) races are free. It's potluck so you just have to bring a dish for afterwards. If you want a shirt, you have to pay for the shirt. The Sour Grapes Run they started several years ago is now one of the big fundraisers for the arb."
Despite her age, the competitive nature of racing continues to motivate Kathy. As for Chris, with school starting soon, much of his time and attention will turn to running and coaching junior high athletes in cross country running.
"Because they're junior high, I can pretty much pretty much keep up with them," he said. "I have fun challenging them saying my mother-in-law - she's like your grandma - could beat you."