World's oldest runner Fauja Singh is an inspiration to youngsters everywhere

Fauja Singh – the eternal runner

Age is just a number. No one epitomises this better than Fauja Singh, believed to be the oldest runner in the world at 102 years of age. He has participated in nine full marathons since taking up running at the age of 89.

Talking about the routine he follows, he says, “I am physically active, walking, jogging and running for at least four hours a day. In the past, it was more running, some jogging, little bit of walking. Now it's a complete reverse. When I cannot do something, due to bad weather or travelling, I make up for it when I get back into my routine. It keeps my body and mind active”.

Final race

Fauja’s last race was in Hong Kong where he improved upon his previous year’s timing. “The last race I did was a 10K in Hong Kong in February during which I fell. I got up and finished five minutes faster than the previous year. I had the publicity, self-realisation, it was a fantastic race. As I crossed the line, all the claps and recognition gave me a lot of joy. I also realised it was my last race”, he says.

The Londoner acknowledges the fact that he is not getting any younger. “My body is not as strong as it was. People who don't run don't realise it's not just about turning up. They forget you need to be strong even for the travel. When I go abroad, people say: ‘Can we come?’ I say: ‘Yes but I don't think you will last a day’. I enjoyed being at peak fitness, although it wasn't easy to stay at the top. But I enjoyed that discipline. I went to my coach Harmander Singh's house recently. He was exhausted after running a marathon. I was pleased for him, but I thought: ‘I used to do that’.”

Running was a God-given gift

Running has made him stronger over the years. “Now I've come to terms with the fact that I don't race any more. I make the best of what I've got. I am still covering distances – although it might take a bit longer now. Running was God's way of distracting me from suffering mentally from the loss of my wife and son.”

“Running took over my time and thoughts, it was God's way of keeping me alive and making me what I am today and I'm grateful for that. I had no idea I would live this long and would achieve anything, it wasn't a plan. I bumped into people like Harmander who helped shape my life and got the best out of me”, he added.

Fauja credits running for leading a happy life. “I am still benefiting from the 14 years of running and am able to enjoy life. Since February, I've been to Australia, Las Vegas, Dubai, Denmark, Switzerland, France, and Luxembourg. At the Bournemouth Marathon festival, I was the celebrity starter for the children's races. I've been invited to Washington for an award, and I've been invited to New Delhi to start a sports tournament.

The struggle was worth it...

He enjoys running and does not believe it to be exhausting. “As long as people remember me, don't forget what I've done, and still there are things to do. It's more pain than gain, but that pain gives you happiness afterwards. I do not see it as putting myself through torture.”

Fauja is very particular when it comes to following a diet. “Whatever pain and suffering I've had, reaped benefits multiple times. Every day when I wake up I rub baby oil on my body to keep me supple. Every day I have linseed and a cup of tea. Before I leave home, I have plain yogurt and two glasses of water. Lunch is one chapatti and daal [lentils] made at the gurdwara with yoghurt. I won't touch a cauliflower, rice, or sweets made of rice as it doesn't do me any good. At home, I will have whatever is being made with my youngest son and his family. If I don't like what they're having, I'll have toast with jam or honey on it.”

“And before I go to bed I will have a glass of warm milk. I also have ginger curry at least once a week which cleanses the body. If I feel ill or different, I reflect on what has changed in my diet and routine. I am still active, in a better shape than those who are lazy. They are deteriorating, I am maintaining it so who is the winner? Being active is like a medication. I don't want to withdraw from that medication,” he concludes.

Edited by Staff Editor
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