"When I took up running, it was like meeting God himself. I have been running ever since."
This is what 104-year old Fauja Singh has to say about running and he only retired from competing in marathons two years ago. He still runs regularly though, to maintain personal fitness and has only abstained from taking part in competitions. A celebrity and inspiration to not only runners, but also to people in general.
Starts Running At 89
Fauja moved to London from India after the death of his wife and one of his sons. Depressed after their loss, he took up running and it has been, in his own words, a medication to him. He slowly began competitive running and hasn’t looked back since participating in his first-ever marathon in London in 2000. He competed in the 26-mile London Marathon thinking it was the same as 26km! He was comfortable running 20km and felt an additional 6km would not be much of a stress! After finishing the marathon, he was asked about his achievement and he replied: “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for the last six miles, I run while talking to God.”
Recipe For Success
The centenarian attributes his success to being a vegetarian and abstaining from smoking and staying clear of alcohol. A simple diet consisting of roti, dal, yoghurt and green vegetables is all he craves for along with drinking lots of water and sipping tea with ginger. He has raised money for a lot of charities with his group ‘Sikhs in the City’ and has ran marathons in cities like London, Toronto, New York and Hong Kong among many others. For someone who couldn’t walk till he was five due to a birth defect, his achievements have been remarkable!
Earlier in 2015, he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his service to sport and charity. He is also the first non-American to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition in the USA. Fauja has a biography on him titled ‘Turbaned Tornado’, written by the late renowned writer Khushwant Singh. Apart from these, he has headlined numerous other events in different parts of the world. Born on April 1, 1911, Fauja Singh continues to be a living inspiration for millions of people the world over.