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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Fauja hangs his boots, but only for full marathons

Indo-Asian News Service, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, April 24, 2012
First Published: 17:48 IST(24/4/2012) | Last Updated: 17:53 IST(24/4/2012)

The oldest marathon runner in the world, United Kingdom-based Fauja Singh, on Sunday said he would not take part in full marathons any more, but continue to run smaller races such as the five-kilometre ones and half marathons.

After completing the 26-mile London Marathon in record time of seven hours and 49 minutes, the 101-year-old Fauja said this was his last long distance race.

The spirited Sardar, originally from Beas Pind near Jalandhar in Punjab, is now settled in Ilford-London.

"Fauja has hung up his shoes for full marathons on a high note," his biographer and Chandigarh-based author Khushwant Singh, said "Hats off to the man. I salute the Fauja spirit. He is an icon."

"I was keeping track of him during the London Marathon on Sunday," Khushwant, who wrote Fauja's biography Turbaned Tornado last year, said. "He got huge attention during the event." Sporting a light yellow tee of the London-based Sikh organisation Sikhs in the City and wearing contestant vest number 27507, Fauja bettered his own time of the Toronto Marathon last year in October. Fauja had finished that race in more than eight hours.

Kenya's Wilson Kipsang won the London Marathon in two hours, four minutes and 44 seconds.
The event, considered the world's largest fundraising event, however, took a tragic turn when a 30-year-old woman marathon runner Claire Squires collapsed and died after completing 25 miles of the 26-mile race.

Fauja, who turned 101 on April 1, has run eight full marathons in the last 12 years. He started running professionally at the age of 89.

Last year, when he turned 100, Fauja got a congratulatory telegram from Queen Elizabeth.
Fauja is contemplating participating in the vertical marathon as part of celebrations to mark 101 years of Taipei in June this year. Sources close to him say if he goes there, he may also attempt the vertical marathon by climbing Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Born on April 1, 1911, at Beas Pind, he became the world's oldest half-marathon runner at 99 years in May 2010 when he ran the Inter-Faith Marathon in Luxembourg.

"I won't stop running till I die," Fauja had said on a recent visit to India.

"I want to be remembered as the person who ran till the end."

His coach Harmandar Singh said after the London event: "I don't think he has anything else to prove."

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