Fauja Singh, 101, to call time on marathons after StanChart race

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 4:13am

The world's oldest marathon runner will stride off into the sunset after completing the 10-kilometre race at next month's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.

Indian-born British national Fauja Singh is 101 years old. Known as the Turbaned Torpedo, he will hang up his running spikes and retire from competitive running after crossing the finishing line on February 24.

That will bring to an end to an amazing career five weeks before his 102nd birthday on April 1.

Last year, the then 100-year-old completed the same course in one hour, 34 minutes and 54 seconds.

"It's getting tougher for me. But I loved racing in Hong Kong last year," said Singh, who can speak only Punjabi and spoke through his coach and interpreter, Harmander Singh.

"I want my last official race to be here. I'll always run but only for pleasure after this."

The turban-charged racer was also the top charity fundraising individual last year, collecting HK$104,000 in donations, which granted him automatic entry into next month's race.

The chance to raise even more money for charity was another incentive to finish his career here.

"If it was left up to him, he'd keep competing, but we have to think of his health," his coach said.

"He's achieved everything that was humanly possible for a runner of his age to achieve. He has nothing left to prove."

In October 2011, teetotal vegetarian Singh, aged 100, ostensibly became the world's oldest runner to complete a marathon when he finished the Toronto Waterfront event.

He clocked eight hours, 11 minutes and six seconds. However, the Guinness World Records organisation refused to accept him as the world's oldest marathon runner as he could not provide it with a birth certificate. Not that he is too bothered about it.

"When Fauja heard about it, he asked, 'Who is Guinness?'" the coach recalled. "He knows how old he is and so does everyone else, which is all that matters."

Singh emigrated from India, where he worked as a farmer in Punjab state, in the 1980s and became a British citizen in 2003. Birth certificates were not compulsory in developing regions in rural India, where he was born.

The elderly runner has a letter from Queen Elizabeth that all British citizens get when they reach 100 years old. He has also had five passports in all - four of them Indian and one British, with his date of birth on them.

When asked his secret to his surprisingly long-lasting health, he replied: "Eat simple food and small portions."