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Fauja Singh

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Fauja Singh
Singh in 2007
Personal information
Nickname(s)Turbaned Tornado
Running Baba
Sikh Superman[1]
BornBeas Pind, Punjab, British India
Years active2000–2013
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight53 kg (117 lb)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Retired24 February 2013[2][3]
Updated on 20 April 2023

Fauja Singh BEM (Punjabi: ਫੌਜਾ ਸਿੰਘ) is a British Sikh and retired marathon runner of Punjabi Indian descent. He has beaten a number of world records in multiple age brackets, but none of his times have been ratified as records. His personal best time for the London Marathon (2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes,[4] and his marathon best, claimed for the 90-plus age bracket, is 5 hours 40 minutes at the alleged age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.[5][6]


Early life[edit]

Fauja Singh claims to have been born in Beas Pind, Jalandhar, Punjab, British India on 1 April 1911,[5] the youngest of four children. Singh did not walk until he was five years old. His legs were thin and weak, and he could hardly walk long distances. Because of this, he was often teased, and he was called by the nickname "danda" (Punjabi: ਡੰਡਾ for "stick") for the next ten years. As a young man, Singh was an avid amateur runner, but he gave it up at the time of the Partition of India.

Return to running as a passion[edit]

It was only after witnessing the death of his fifth son, Kuldip, in a construction accident in August 1994, that Singh returned to his passion for running, in 1995. The death of his wife in 1992, and his eldest daughter who had died from complications after giving birth to his third granddaughter, gave him the determination for this new focus in life.[1] He emigrated to England in the 1990s and lives with one of his sons in Ilford.[7]

At 89 years, he took seriously to running and ended up in international marathon events. When he first turned up for training at Redbridge, Essex, he was dressed in a three-piece suit. The coach had to rework everything, including his attire. Singh ran his first race, the London Marathon, in 2000.[8] According to his coach, he used to run up to 20 kilometres easily and wanted to run a marathon, thinking it to be just 26 kilometres and not 26 miles (42 kilometres). It was after he realised this that he began training seriously.[9]

At the age of 93, Singh completed a marathon in 6 hours and 54 minutes, 58 minutes quicker than the world best for the 90-plus age bracket.[5] That same year, in 2004, he was featured in an advertising campaign for sportswear manufacturer Adidas alongside David Beckham and Muhammad Ali.[10][11]

Singh bettered the UK records for the 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, mile and 3000 m for his, claimed, age group, all within a single 94-minute period,[12][13][14] but they are not currently listed as records.[15]

At the age of 100, Singh attempted and accomplished eight world age group records in one day, at the special Ontario Masters Association Fauja Singh Invitational Meet, held at Birchmount Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Timed by officials in Canada, he ran the 100 metres in 23.14, 200 metres in 52.23, the 400 metres in 2:13.48, the 800 metres in 5:32.18, the 1500 metres in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 metres in 24:52.47, and the 5000 metres in 49:57.39, setting five world records for his age group in one day.[16] Some events had no previous record holder, as nobody over age 100 had ever attempted the distance. Some of his marks are significantly superior to the listed world record in the M95 age group as well.[17] Three days later, on 16 October 2011, Singh was claimed to have become the first 100-year-old to finish a marathon, completing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06.[18] As it took him over 14 minutes after the gun to cross the starting line, the official time submitted, and declined, for the age group record was 8:25:17.[19]

His biography, titled Turbaned Tornado, was formally released in the Attlee Room of Britain's House of Lords on 7 July 2011 by Lord Anthony Young of Norwood Green and retired British Crown Court judge Sir Mota Singh. The book was written by Chandigarh-based columnist and writer Khushwant Singh.[8][20]

In October 2011, Singh, a vegetarian, became the oldest man to be featured in a PETA campaign.[21]

In 2012, Fauja Singh participated as a special guest for the 2nd Annual Chardikala Run in Malaysia. The run was given a theme '101 and running' as a mark of respect for Singh. He was presented with The BrandLaureate Award on stage during the closing ceremony.[citation needed]

After taking part in the Hong Kong marathon on 24 February 2013, five weeks shy of his 102nd birthday,[2] Singh stated that he would retire from competitive running. He completed the 10 kilometre run at the Hong Kong marathon in 1 hour 32 minutes and 28 seconds,[3] and said that he intends to continue running for pleasure, health and charity.

Retirement from running[edit]

As of April 2023, Fauja no longer runs himself but still enjoys cheering on marathon runners at events.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Singh is 1.72 metres (5 feet 8 inches) tall and weighs 52 kg (115 lb). He attributes his physical fitness and longevity to abstaining from smoking and alcohol and to following a simple vegetarian diet.[23] He has been quoted as saying "I am very careful about different foods. My diet is simple phulka, dal, green vegetables, yogurt and milk. I do not touch parathas, pakoras, rice or any other fried food. I take lots of water and tea with ginger. ... I go to bed early taking the name of my Rabba (God) as I don't want all those negative thoughts crossing my mind."[5]

Speaking about the marathon, he said: "The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God."[5]

Sikhs in the City[edit]

He is the eldest of a group of Sikhs who call themselves "Sikhs in the City". There were three other Sikhs, aged 79, 79 and 80, in the "Golden Oldies" team which ran the Edinburgh Marathon relay in 2009.[24] The SITC running group are a now a well-established team based in East London, running marathons across the world with interfaith groups and raising money for Fauja Singh's charities.[25]


Punjab elections 2012[edit]

He attended an election rally at village Kukranwala under the Raja Sansi constituency (near Amritsar) for the People's Party of Punjab candidate, where he was reported to have extended his support for the party.[26] However, the party was criticized by Sikhs in the City for the "misuse of Fauja Singh for political purposes", and for having "abused the vulnerability of an old man for its own ends".[27]

Age verification[edit]

Guinness World Records refused to include Singh in its record book because he could not produce his birth certificate to prove his age. Birth records were not kept in India in 1911.[28]


On 13 November 2003, Singh was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition, a US group that advocates ethnic pride and tolerance. William Fugazy, the chairman of the coalition, said Singh is a symbol of racial tolerance, and his running helps bridge the gap created by the 11 September terrorist attacks. "He is the greatest inspiration," said Fugazy, and added that Singh was the first non-American to receive the honour.[29]

He was awarded the "Pride of India" title by a UK-based organisation for his achievements in 2011.[30]

In July 2012, Singh carried the Olympic torch.[31]

Singh was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to sport and charity.[32][33]


Running Career
  • Marathons run: London (6), Toronto (2), New York (1)
  • Marathon debut: London, 2000, aged 89
  • London Flora Marathon 2000: 6:54
  • London Flora Marathon 2001: 6:54
  • London Flora Marathon 2002: 6:45
  • Bupa Great North Run (Half Marathon) 2002: 2:39
  • London Flora Marathon 2003: 6:02
  • Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2003: 5:40
  • New York City Marathon 2003: 7:35
  • London Flora Marathon 2004: 6:07
  • Glasgow City Half Marathon 2004: 2:33
  • Capital Radio Help a London Child 10,000 m 2004: 1:08
  • Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2004: 2:29:59
  • Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2011: 8:11:0
  • London Marathon 2012 : 7:49:21
  • Hong Kong Marathon (10 km) 2012: 1:34 (raised $25,800 for charity)[34]
  • parkrun uk 2012 – Age graded record holder: 179.04% with a time of 38:34[35]
  • Hong Kong Marathon (10 km) 2013: 1:32:28[36]


  1. ^ a b Wee, Lea (13 December 2012). "Running gave him second wind". The Straits Times. Singapore. p. 24.
  2. ^ a b "New Delhi Marathon runner Fauja Singh to retire after one last run 3rd of September". p. 169. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "At 101, Fauja Singh completes his final marathon". Agence France-Presse. 24 February 2013. Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  4. ^ Ashenden, Mark (30 June 2005). "Life Begins at 90". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e Rana, Vijay (19 April 2004). "At 93, Adidas Marathon man Fauja runs with god as partner". The Indian Express. Retrieved 18 October 2011. I run while talking to God.
  6. ^ "Runner, 94, finishes capital race". BBC News. 12 June 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  7. ^ Turnbull, Simon (24 February 2013). "Age catches up with Fauja Singh". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Fauja Singh: Marathoner, poster boy, 100 yrs old". NDTV. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  9. ^ Carney, John (3 February 2012). "Marathon man, 100, takes challenges in his stride". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  10. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen (19 October 2011). "The secret of the world's oldest marathon runner". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  11. ^ "The new face of adidas, 93". London Evening Standard. 30 March 2004. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  12. ^ "The Real Singh, the Real King (Fauja Singh)". Curry Bear. April 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  13. ^ "94-year-old breaks 5 records within 94 minutes". British Masters Athletic Federation. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Who Are The Oldest People on Our Planet? And, Why Are They That Healthy?". Diabetes Diet Dialogue. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  15. ^ "UK Age Group Track Records". Masters Athletics UK. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  16. ^ "M100 Indian sets 8 world records in succession? Check ID first". Masterstrack.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  17. ^ "100 Year Old Fauja Singh Sets EIGHT World Records in a Row". Ontario Masters Athletics. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Another marathon milestone for centenarian". The Tribune. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon". Sport Stats. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  20. ^ "100-year-old Sikh marathoner's biography released in Britain". The Indian Express. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  21. ^ "100-year-old marathoner Fauja Singh becomes PETA's poster boy". The Times of India. 21 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012.
  22. ^ Kanthwal, Gaurav Kanthwal (30 April 2023). "What keeps Fauja Singh going". The Tribune.
  23. ^ Johnston, Lauren (17 October 2011). "100-year-old Fauja Singh sets world record: Oldest runner to complete a marathon". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  24. ^ Potter, Laura (20 June 2009). "Glad to be grey". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  25. ^ "History of Sikhs in the City". Archived from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Fauja Singh runs for PPP". The Indian Express. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  27. ^ "100-year-old marathoner's family miffed with political party". NDTV. 25 January 2012. Archived from the original on 29 January 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  28. ^ "Fauja Singh, 100, won't make Guinness". ESPN. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  29. ^ Osama Jeers Didn't Stop Sikh Marathon Man, 92, by Austin Fenner Daily News (New York), Friday, 14 November 2003
  30. ^ "Centenarian Fauja Singh does it again". The Times of India. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  31. ^ "Fauja Singh, 101, dazzles in Olympic Torch relay". The Times of India. 21 July 2012.
  32. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N33.
  33. ^ "2015 New Year Honours List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2015.
  34. ^ Nikolas, Katerina (6 February 2012). "Oldest marathon runner 'Turbaned Torpedo' runs in HK marathon". Digital Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  35. ^ "home | parkrun UK". www.parkrun.org.uk.
  36. ^ "At 101, Fauja Singh completes his final marathon | Other Sports - More | NDTVSports.com". Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.

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