“Fauja Singh One Hundred Years Young,” by Paul Gains

Victorious! New World Record 5:40:04. STWM 2003, age 92 years.

TORONTO. September 29th. It is not just our professional athletes who are causing excitement this year.

Remarkable and truly inspirational runner, 100 year old Fauja Singh is aiming to become the Guinness World Record Holder for the Oldest Marathoner at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, October 16th.

Fauja ‘The Turbaned Tornado’ Singh took up running at the ripe old age of 89 and set the current 90+ age-group World Record at STWM in 2003 with a time of 5:40:04 at age 92. He is well known all over the world and trains each day, jogging and walking an average of eight to ten miles. Of his intention to keep running he says,”‘I have said it before that I will carry on running as it is keeping me alive.”

New for 2011, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has officially partnered with Guinness World Records. While runners may not be able to match Fauja’s attempt they are able to register to break Guinness World Records in the following categories: Fastest Mascot, Fastest Vegetable, Fastest Parent and Child and Fastest Television Character. Registration deadline for these records is October 1st and see http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/news/2011_07_19.htm for further details.

Fauja Singh One Hundred Years Young

by Paul Gains

 On the occasion of his 100th birthday – April 11th of this year – Fauja Singh received a telegram from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 then plotted world centenarian record attempts on distances from 100 metres to the marathon. 

It might seem a curious reaction to such a splendid acknowledgement but Singh is hardly a typical British old age pensioner. 

 At present he holds the world marathon record for men over 90, having recorded 5 hours 40 minutes at the 2003 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He was 92. The city obviously agrees with him because a year later he set a world record for the half marathon of 2:29:59. There doesn’t appear to be anybody lurking in the wings to challenge these records. 

Singh returns to Toronto next month to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to set a Guinness World Record for the oldest marathoner at 100 years old and will also set records in an assortment of other distances. 

All his achievements, including five appearances at the London Marathon, earned him a sponsorship deal with adidas as part of the company’s “Impossible is Nothing” advertising campaign so famously illustrated by one David Beckham. 

The centenarian is a full blown celebrity in Britain. His biography ‘Turbaned Tornado’ was launched under auspicious circumstances at the House of Lords and his exploits on the roads have provided inspiration to millions around the world, especially since he took up marathon running at the age of 89. His debut came at the 2000 London Marathon. Chief among his few regrets, he claims, is the fact he is unable to read the book. He speaks Punjabi and cannot read. 

“I have always enjoyed sports from an early age and prefer to be active rather than passive,” he says through the able interpretation of his friend, coach and agent Harmander Singh. “Running is free and I can do it at a pace to suit me. The fact that others benefit from something I like to do, be it through raising of sponsorship for charities or simply motivating people to become healthier, is a motivator for me. 

“I had run a long race for a cancer charity and became aware of the marathon distance. I felt I ought to give it a go as I knew I could do it.” 

 Not only will Singh attempt to the first centenarian marathoner but three days before the Toronto event he will have a go at records from 100m to 5000m on a yet to be confirmed Toronto track. As for which distances he will attempt that remains undecided. 

“I will discuss whatever I hope to achieve with my coach and will do what my coach advises me as he will not take any unnecessary risks,” Singh explains. “I do know however, that there are race distances which will become world records even if I walk them. I hope that the community training run (morning of Thursday 13 October) that my coach organises with the Race Director will inspire people of all abilities.” 

Like all of his running ventures these days he will attempt to raise money for charity. The entire amount of his adidas sponsorship, for instance, went directly to charity. 

“My coach is the best person to ask but I know that all charities are for good causes and help the vulnerable in some way – that is good enough reason for me,” he says. “The three I remember are BLISS, Cancer Research and one for older people. I did not like the way they (the latter) treated me when I handed over the money raised.” 

The association with BLISS was especially clever as the charity helps parents with premature babies and allowed them to use the advertising tag line “the oldest running for the youngest.” 

Fauja Singh himself was born on a farm in a remote part of India on April 11, 1911 and he emigrated to England in the 1990’s. He’s a little foggy on the details. 

“I cannot remember for sure but I was simply visiting my children in the 1980′s and eventually [settled] for good in the 1990′s,” he recalls. “I moved to England as a way of overcoming a traumatic time in my life and the family thought it best.” 

The trauma he speaks of was the deaths of both his wife and his son Kuldip in close succession. These days he lives with another son Sukhjinder Singh and his family in Ilford, Essex. He trains each day walking, jogging and running between eight and ten miles a day. 

According to his biographer, villagers in India recall Singh running to get to and fro, using running as a means of transportation. Decades later he continues to inspire others with his remarkable achievements. Asked if he has ever considered ‘retirement’ he responds succinctly. 

“I have said before that I will carry on running as it is keeping me alive,” he declares.

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28 Responses to “Fauja Singh One Hundred Years Young,” by Paul Gains

  1. Andy Best says:

    When I read of exploits by athletes such as Fauja Singh and Ed Whitlock, I am inspired to continue to train and race at a relatively young age of 53. There are times during long runs or marathons that I reflect on rhe effort of runners of all ages, sizes and circumstances. To Mr. Singh, keep running.

    • buddy(deorup) james says:

      I have ran with these gentlemen ,Mr Singh and Mr.Whitlock at the these marathons .They are part of my inspiration why I keep on running.
      I always looking forward to run with these gentlemen.I am 62 and hope I can continue doing this when I am their age..

  2. Harmander Singh says:

    Errm!!! Fauja Singh was born on 1 April (no joke) 1911, not 11 April.

    Fauja Singh and the Sikhs In The City (SITC) team look forward to seeing all of you superfit Canadians on Thursday morning at the track to go through the paces with us and again at the finish line on Sunday

    • Mandeep Singh says:

      If you are his coach Harmander Singh you are very lucky i must say to be an important part of this historic chapter.

  3. Gurbaksh Singh says:

    he is giving new findings to medical sciences!!

  4. Angela Chadwick says:

    What a wonderful man. It makes me cry!

  5. Vero aguilar says:

    Simply WOW!! It Will be a true honor to run the same race as him! Just inspirational!

  6. Kim says:

    I think hes amazing and a insperation to us all!!
    Good luck Babaji!!

  7. dsg says:

    that is amazing

  8. Running To says:

    Absolutely wonderful! I am 30 years old, love running and I hope to follow in Mr Singh’s footsteps! Truly an inspiration

  9. Val Avery says:

    As an avid runner myself …………… If this is not INSPIRATION – I don’t know what is !!

  10. Mandeep Singh says:

    He is a true inspiration. I am 26 and i can bet he is more fit and younger than me and somewhere i do feel ashamed on my part but for this 100 year old boy all respect. I heard him speaking on one radio and you couldn’t make out that this voice is coming out from a century old man . I really want to have a photograph with him since 2001 when i first heard of him.

  11. Mrs. Usha and Vinayak Paranjape,
    19 Allan, Greenfield Park, Qc. J4V 2W6. Tel. (450) 466-9716, E-mail – vinayak@sympatico.ca

    My sincere appreciation of “Fauja Singh One Hundred Years Young,” also the authorities of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Sikhs has been the pride of India for many and many years. Prime Minister of India – Manamohan Singh will definitely appreciate this achievement by Fauja Singh. Malika Singh is a good example.
    Best luck and good health to Fauja Singh and many more long Marathon successful Runs.
    Vinayak Paranjape and the family.
    Mrs. Usha and Vinayak Paranjape,
    19 Allan, Greenfield Park, Qc. J4V 2W6. Tel. (450) 466-9716, E-mail – vinayak@sympatico.ca

  12. Neelam Prakash says:

    What an inspiration!! I feel proud to see someone achieve such levels of fame and to be able to do what he does at this age. Gives me encouragement and hope and he brings back memories of my dad, who was just as inspirational.

  13. B SRINIVASAN says:

    LONG LIVE; HE SHOULD MAKE RECORD TILL 120 YEARS

  14. Fauja Singh, Your the GREAT.

    May God Bless You and your team. Happy 100th Birthday

  15. GURDEEP GARHA says:

    CHARDI KALA WALE SIKH IS FAUZA SINGH

  16. anerood bhargav says:

    im just 19 ,
    i stop running after 7k abruptly because i get bored … thats not goin to happen from tommorow !!
    hats off to .. fauja singh

  17. Tina Weisz says:

    I think what was most humbling and genuine about Mr. Singh was listening to him speak at the Direct Energy Centre the day before the marathon. He wanted all of us to know that, even though it may look like he is in pain at times, he is not. He wanted to assure everyone that he is actually having fun out there running 42.2 kms. and enjoying every moment. For a 100 year old man to be concerned about other’s feelings truly shows that he has a heart far bigger than the one that carries him through a marathon course.

  18. Jessica P says:

    I had the privilege and the honour to stand right behind Mr Fauja Singh yesterday morning. While I began to fight my own inner strength, I looked up to see this amazing beautiful soul prepare for the run of his life. I felt a calmness and a boost of energy and my mental tribulations slowly diminished. I thank you greatly Fauja, your calm demeanour and even your little warm up got me pumped and lead me the whole way through. I will keep that memory alive anytime I feel I can’t because you are living proof that whatever you want to accomplish you can, just follow your heart.

  19. Jagdeep Singh says:

    We are proud of you S.Fauja Singh Ji

    Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

  20. manpreet kaur nijjar harman singh nijjar says:

    i am 7 year/// my brother is 5years i proud of grandfather fauja singh good health and good luck

  21. JANIVARA says:

    A LADY GIVES BIRTH A FEW HOURS AFTER RUNNING A FULL MARATHON IN CHICAGO !
    A 100 YEAR YOUNG MAN COMPLETES TORONTO MARATHON !!
    AS A 60 YEAR OLD MAN, I AM DISQUALIFIED ON BOTH COUNTS !!!
    WHO IS RUNNING THIS WORLD ???
    AMAZINGLY,BAFFLINGLY INSPIRATIONAL. KEEP RUNNING Y’ALL..

  22. javid saiyad says:

    i sellute the faujasinh and i admire his power of running on this age time it is ameging to thinking about running because i am also a merathon runner, jo bole so nihal sat shriakaal

  23. Tereza says:

    Dear Respected,
    My sincere appreciation of “Fauja Singh One Hundred Years Young,” also the authorities of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Sikhs has been the pride of India for many and many years. Prime Minister of India – Manamohan Singh will definitely appreciate this achievement by Fauja Singh. Malika Singh is a good example. I really inspired by him to take part in marathon. I am participating in barefoot marathon to be held on 6th Nov.2011 at Navi mumbai. You are our inspiration God Bless u

    If I will get a good training coach at Mumbai I will be the best fast walker, runner and other atheletics where I can do much better for India.

    Thanks

  24. Evilcyber says:

    This man is an inspiration!

  25. Singh Sahib says:

    This guy is truly amazing! He is my hero! I saw this really inspirational video on him! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZU1oCamtUa8 Such a simple guy but some top work hes doing…

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