Fourteen years ago, at the tender age of 89 — when most folks are slowing down — Fauja Singh decided to start running. Not just jog around the block running; he picked up marathon running. And he hasn't stopped since. This week, at the age of 103, Singh was officially recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to both sport and charity.
According to Singh, he took up running so late in life to battle depression and deal with the death of his wife and one of his sons. Singh ran his first marathon, the London Marathon, in 2000. But it wasn't until 2003 that he really shot into the halls of fame when he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5:40, capturing the 90 and older world record for the marathon at the age of 92.
And he didn't stop there. In 2011, Singh ran Toronto again and became the first centenarian to finish a marathon. In 2012, at age 101, he ran the London Marathon and became the oldest person to ever run and complete a marathon.
Speaking about the marathon, Singh told the Indian Express, "The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God."
Nicknamed the "Turbaned Tornado," Singh has been featured in ad campaigns for Adidas alongside David Beckham and Muhammad Ali. A lifelong vegetarian, Singh became the oldest person to be featured in an ad campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2011.
Singh announced his retirement from competitive racing in 2013, but he has continued on with his daily runs — some as long as four hours — as well as his charitable work to promote healthy aging and better treatment for seniors in the United Kingdom.
At this year's honors ceremony, Singh was awarded the highly prestigious British Empire Medal for his dedication to running and for his promotion of the health and wellness of seniors throughout the U.K.
So what's next for Fauja Singh? There's no word yet, but I think we can all rest-assured that Singh will keep on running and volunteering as long as he possibly can.
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