Participants of the Chardikala Charitable Fun Run braved the heavy rain to get a glimpse of the world’s oldest marathon runner Fauja Singh who flagged off the 5km race at the Astaka Field, Petaling Jaya yesterday evening.
The event attracted more than 1,000 participants with several runners from Kenya, Japan, India and Malaysia. Also present was Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi.
Fauja, who is 101-years-old, was still in good spirits despite having ran in the Standard Chartered 10km Run in Singapore earlier in the day before visiting PJ.
“Running is my medicine so I have to continue running,” said an expressive Fauja.
“I am very happy to be here and I wish more people will take up running. Youngsters should be involved in sports as it is healthy and they will avoid taking drugs and committing other vices.”
Fauja has taken the athletics scene by storm after his impressive feats since he started running in his late 80s. Since debuting at the London Flora Marathon in 2000, Fauja has been a regular face in most marathons worldwide including the New York Marathon (2003), Toronto Waterfront Marathon (2003, 2004 and 2011) and the Hong Kong 10km race.
His best record thus far is at the Toronto marathon last year when he clocked 8 hours 25 minutes to finish tops in the above 90 age group.
He was carried the torchbearer for the Olympics on two occasions – for the Athens 2004 and 2012 London Games.
“I am glad not because I carried the torch per say but I believe that it is a recognition to the Sikh community, that one of us have been given the opportunity to run with the torch outside of India and
I’m thankful,” he added.
Fauja was a farmer in India but migrated to UK after the loss of his wife and son. He started running to distract himself from his loss and it turned out to be a motivation run further.
Now, he spends at least four hours daily running and after every eight days he takes it to the next level.
“I start my day at 8am and have a very modest diet of mostly capati, dhal (lentils) and yogurt. The food in UK is rich and I avoid them.
“I am happy and grateful with my life and I will continue running until I can,” he added.
And his advice to those wanting to run – including those in their golden age;
“Just look at me, if I can do it...so can you.”
HD says: It was certainly an inspiring moment sitting across Fauja and later taking a snap shot with him. He puts many of us to shame.