The oldest marathon runner broke his own record Sunday at the London Marathon.
101-year-old Fauja Singh ran the 26 miles and 385 yards in seven hours and 49 minutes, half an hour faster than his time at the 2011 Toronto Marathon.
Singh has said this is his last marathon race. He wants to run shorter distances, faster.
His trainer Harmander Singh said:
“I believe it’s probably best that this is the last. I don’t think he has anything else to prove.”
But although he has a British passport and a centennial letter from the Queen, because he was born in Punjab, India, in 1911, he does not have the ‘proper’ records — so the Guinness Book of Records won’t recognize him because he does not have a birth certificate.
Not that it matters, says Fauja Singh:
“I did not even know what the Guinness Book of Records was until someone told me. It doesn’t matter to me as I just enjoy the running and everyone I know has been so pleased or inspired by it, and that is all that matters. I can’t read, anyway.”
Fauja attributes his staying power to cups of tea, staying happy, 10 miles of jogging or walking a day and a simple vegetarian diet.
“The day I stop running, my body will stop altogether and that will be the end of me,” he says. He will keep on. In June he will climb the 101 — of course — stories of the Taipei Tower. He will also be part of the 2012 London Olympic Games torch relay.
Singh moved to the UK in the 1960s. He had run when he was a farmer in Punjab but only took up the sport seriously 11 years ago after the death of his wife and his son. At his first training session, he turned up in a suit. He speaks only Punjabi and cannot read or write.
When he ran the New York City Marathon in 2003 wearing his turban, he endured taunts of “Hey, Osama Bin Laden” and “Look at Saddam.”
Speaking about running the marathon, he said:
“The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God.”
Watch NDTV interview with Singh:
Image source: Hari Singh/Wikipedia