A man who didn’t start running marathons until he was 89 is hoping to become the first undisputed centenarian known to have completed the 26.2-mile race.
Fauja Singh, 100, of the United Kingdom, is expected to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday in Canada. If he completes it, Guinness World Records will recognize him as the world’s oldest marathoner.
“He’s really happy, and looking forward to it,” his coach, Harmander Singh, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Guinness had recognized Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, as the world’s oldest marathoner for running in Athens in 1976. Yordanidis isn’t among the records kept by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, which already recognizes Fauja Singh as the oldest for the last marathon he ran, at age 93 in 2004.
Singh, nicknamed the Turbaned Tornado, took up running 20 years ago – around the time he moved to England from India – after losing his wife and son, the CBC and the marathon’s website say.
He began running marathons at 89, completing seven through age 93. He set the current world record for people 90 and older with a time of five hours, 40 minutes and four seconds in Toronto in 2003.
He jogs and walks eight to 10 miles per day, according to Toronto marathon organizers.
“I have said it before: that I will carry on running, as it is keeping me alive,” Singh said, according to the marathon’s site.
Back in 2002, when he was the oldest entrant of the London Marathon at age 92, CNN reported that Singh credited his fitness in part to meditation, fresh food and ginger curry.
Some readers may recall that a British man, Pierre Jean “Buster” Martin, claimed to have been 101 when he ran the London Marathon in 2008. But Guinness declined to recognize his run, saying it couldn’t verify his age.