In A Nutshell
Known as the “Turbaned Torpedo,” marathon runner Fauja Singh retired from racing in February 2013 . . . at the age of 101. Singh began running at 89, and in 2011, he became the first man ever to complete a full marathon at the age of 100.
The Whole Bushel
Triflingly few of us, even in our youth, have the athletic ability to run a full 26.2-mile marathon, a feat roughly equal to sprinting from one end of Manhattan and back again. Even walking that distance would test most peoples’ endurance. In 2011, Briton Fauja Singh did what most of us could not. He ran the entire 26.2-mile Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He finished in 8:25:16, an unenviable time given the fact that world’s most elite runners can finish a marathon in just over two hours. The difference between Fauja and the other runners? He was 100 years old at the time.
Singh, known by fans as the “Turbaned Torpedo,” has set numerous records and completed his first full 26.2-mile marathon at the age of 93. He is believed to be the oldest man ever to complete a marathon. In 1994, Fauja witnessed the grisly decapitation of his son in a farming accident and began running as a way of dealing with his grief. He claims that his longevity is the result of a simple vegetarian diet, abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and fried foods, and keeping a positive outlook, claiming “I go to bed early taking the name of my Rabba (God) as I don’t want all those negative thoughts crossing my mind.”
Despite his accomplishments, The Guinness Book of World Records refuses to honor Fauja Singh as the oldest marathon runner as his age cannot be independently verified by a birth certificate. He has been able to produce a passport which lists his birth date as April 1, 1911, but the government of India did not keep birth records at the time. In 2004, Fauja carried the Olympic Torch at the Athens Olympics and again in 2012 at the London Olympics. In February 2013, he officially retired after completing a 10K race in Hong Kong at the ripe old age of 101.
When asked how he approached a marathon, Singh claimed, “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for the last six miles, I run while talking to God.”