Kids Corner


Marathon Man:
Fauja Singh Wows The World




Fauja Singh secured a spot in the Guiness World Book of Records on Sunday, October 16, 2011, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The 100-year-old accomplished an amazing feat, completing the gruelling 42.195-kilometre marathon and becoming the oldest person ever to complete a full-distance marathon.

It took Fauja Singh over eight hours to cross the finish line - more than six hours after Kenya's Kenneth Mungara won the event for the fourth straight year - and he was the last competitor to complete the course. But his time wasn't nearly remarkable as the accomplishment itself.

"Beating his original prediction, he's overjoyed," said coach and translator Harmander Singh. "Earlier, just before we came around the (final) corner, he said, 'Achieving this will be like getting married again.'

"He's absolutely overjoyed, he's achieved his life-long wish."

Although event workers dismantled the barricades along the finish line and took down sponsor banners even as Fauja Singh made his way up the final few hundred metres of the race, a throng of media, family, friends and supporters were there when Fauja Singh made marathon history.

And Fauja Singh, who only speaks Punjabi, also surprised himself. Through his interpreter, he said he had set a goal of finishing the race in about nine hours.

"He said he achieved this through the help of God but even God must be getting fed up of helping him," Harmander Singh said, drawing chuckles from assembled media after the race.

Sunday's run was Fauja Singh's eighth marathon - he ran his first at the tender age of 89 - and wasn't the first time he set a record. In the 2003 Toronto event, he set the mark in the 90-plus category, finishing the race in five hours 40 minutes and one second.

And on Thursday in Toronto, Fauja Singh - whose first name means soldier - broke world records for runners older than 100 in eight different distances ranging from 100 metres to 5,000 metres.

Fauja Singh, a five-foot-eight, 115-pound British citizen and vegetarian, looked tired and spent following the race and organizers gingerly assisted him to the post-event news conference. After receiving gentle massages to his legs and calf muscles as well as cups of water from members of his entourage, Fauja Singh leaned back on a couch and spoke little to start the news conference.

But a short time into it, he began looking remarkably relaxed and fresh with his hands clasped behind his head. Then, he abruptly sat up straight and with a smile, motioned for the microphone, obviously getting his second wind.

"He says he's recovered now so he's going to talk," his translator said, again drawing laughter.

Fauja Singh, affectionately dubbed the Turbaned Tornado, began running roughly 20 years ago after losing his wife and child. The five-foot-eight centenarian said he's happy to see more minorities taking part in such marathon events and is hopeful his next project will be participating in the torch relay for the 2012 London Summer Games.

Fauja Singh carried the torch during the relay for the 2004 Athens Games.

Race director Alan Brookes struggled to find the right words to describe Fauja Singh's remarkable accomplishment.

"I'm speechless," he said. "Fauja Singh is a remarkable human being."


October 17, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: K.P. Singh (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.), October 17, 2011, 9:06 AM.

Dear Sardar Fauja Singh ji: Along with your remarkable personal achievement and setting a world record I expect for the ages, you have lifted our spirit sky high. You have personified your faith and conviction that with Satguru's Grace, "Impossible is nothing." We are proud of your completing the Toronto Marathon and you have reminded each of us that we too have the capacity and responsibility to compete and excel in the Holla Mohallas of our times and make our Gurus and the Sikh Nation proud, and uplift the human spirit. When we are humble and tireless in worthy pursuits, then God, our Gurus, and the spontaneous applause of the human race make the impossible possible: "jaan too(n) tusay meharvaan acchint vussay munn aaye" - "When God's Grace is upon us, the undreamed-of in our mind and spirit becomes manifest." Your incredible accomplishment and resolve offer us a testimony of that Truth. Your triumph at the young age of 100 has sent a resounding echo of your optimism, grace, and all-embracing persona across cultures, faiths, and communities around the world. For that lesson and inspiration we are grateful to Satguru, to you, and to your legions of admirers who wish you well. We are rejoicing in your being an outstanding role model for the human race. You have provided a new challenge to millions of us today and that is to be celebrated with robust "jaikaras" and faithful acknowledgement that all Sikhs offer at the end of daily prayers, "All victories belong to God!" and that we are all instruments in the Divine Will and Play. Yet, we know that God places His Hand on chosen shoulders to help us see things that transform the human mind and spirit. We are delighted to see that you represent divinely-inspired excellences of which running is only a temporal task and symbol. You represent, even in this very troubling times, what is right, noble and reassuring about humanity. Thank you for this timeless gift. Your ardent admirer and friend ...

2: Harpreet Kaur Hora (U.S.A.), October 17, 2011, 11:51 AM.

All I can say is WOW! My husband and I had tears in our eyes when Fauja Singh ji neared the finish line. Baba ji, tussi great ho! You are a true inspiration.

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 17, 2011, 12:36 PM.

S. Fauja Singh is everywhere in the news! Caught him on a BBC News 24 bulletin this morning at around 2 am and the video of him on the BBC news website is hovering around 'the most watched'. His exploits are great, great news for all people, especially the much neglected 'elderly'. Well done, United Kingdom, for another Super Sikh.

4: Arvinder (U.S.A.), October 17, 2011, 1:51 PM.

Congratulations! S. Fauja Singh ji. You sure are a hero and an inspiration to millions. God bless you with a long healthy life ahead.

5: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia), October 17, 2011, 4:03 PM.

I expected a surfeit of effusive comments but I suppose everyone too has become speechless at S. Fauja Singh, the 'sava lakh' legion to make every Sikh proud of this nearly impossible feat. His name shall remain unchallenged. Here is a man who has run into fame. Or rather, fame has been chasing him and there was no stopping the turbanator ...

6: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), October 17, 2011, 6:43 PM.

Well done, Fauja Singh ji! You are the Guru's 'sava-lakh fauj' who has represented Sikhi without the least amount of sermonizing.

7: Lakhvir Singh Khalsa (Nairobi, Kenya), October 20, 2011, 1:09 PM.

Fauja Singh has stolen the thunder from us Kenyans. Blessed be the man and longer be his life, filled with ever so much more chardi kalaa!

8: Shabad Gyan Singh (Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A.), December 17, 2011, 4:03 PM.

I am a 50 year old man - half of Fauja Singh ji's age. He has become a true inspiration to me and my family.

9: Dipak Gohil (United Kingdom), May 27, 2012, 7:35 PM.

I took up running in March. I couldn't even run after a bus and I came across your story in a newspaper article. I was moved to tears that you can make the impossible become a reality and that you are a kind and loving man. I ran my first 10K today after 8 weeks of intense training and when I enter my first race, I will run with your name on the back of my shirt. In a world devoid of heroes, you stand out like the brightest star in the sky. You are an incredible inspiration for all humankind. Thank you for touching my soul and empowering me to realize my ambitions.

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Fauja Singh Wows The World"

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