A man said to be the world’s oldest marathon runner has decided to hang up his running shoes after completing the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday.
On a sunny afternoon in London, 101-year-old Fauja Singh finished the 26.2-mile run in a time of 07 hours 49 minutes before posing for pictures with some very glamorous cast members of The Only Way is Essex.
Mr Singh, of Ilford, says he will continue to take part in ‘short races’ of up to 10km.
The great-grandfather, originally from the Punjab, had taken up running after watching the London marathon on television 12 years ago, when he was 89.
Since then he has participated in a total of 8 marathons, including runs in London, New York and Toronto. He has attributed his fitness to a regime of up to 10 miles of jogging or walking a day and a simple vegetarian diet.
Whilst his feats have inspired others to take up running, his rise to fame hasn’t been without its difficulties.
He has found himself embroiled in a row with Guinness World Records who have refused to acknowledge his claim to being the oldest marathon runner in the world as he doesn’t hold a birth certificate, much like millions of others in rural areas of the Punjab.
Mr Singh’s trainer Harmander Singh has even accused the organization of racial discrimination, saying that Guinness’ insistence on a birth certificate excludes much of the developing world.
Harmander told the Daily Telegraph: “I don’t think Guinness are racist intentionally but their processes are institutionally racist because they are clearly and deliberately saying that a birth certificate is important. If he wasn’t issued with a birth certificate, it wasn’t his fault, and we the British were in charge of India at the time.
“A recent United Nations report on children said that 40 per cent of children born in 2008 didn’t have a birth certificate, meaning developing countries. If people nowadays still don’t have birth certificates, what do you think it was like 100 years ago?”
Guinness however remains unmoved.
The furore has left Mr Singh bemused. Through his trainer, Mr Singh told the Telegraph: “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.”
- Staff Reporter