The world’s oldest marathon runner, 101-year-old Fauja Singh, is set to join more than 27,000 runners on the streets of the Scottish capital at the 10th Edinburgh Marathon Festival.
With eight marathons under his belt, all completed after his 89th birthday, Fauja is in fine form to compete in the team relay on May 27 over race weekend.
Organisers are proud this year’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival has attracted 27,694 entrants making it the city’s biggest yet offering a race for all abilities including the classic 26.2 mile course as well as a marathon team relay, half marathon, 10K, 5K, two popular junior races, international breakfast run and a mascot race. It is the biggest running event in Scotland and in the UK second only to London in size. This year’s Edinburgh marathon features an all star line up of some of the finest athletes in the world. Among those on the start line will be Zachary Kihara, 33, of Kenya who holds the event record, crossing the finish line in 2005 in a cool 2:15:46.
Since the Edinburgh Marathon started in 2003 it has had an economic impact of more than £25 million for the capital and helped raise more than £30 million for hundreds of charities.
Together with the Edinburgh marathon’s official charity Macmillan Cancer Support and hundreds of other charities the 10th anniversary organisers are hoping to break all previous records and raise more than £4.5 million in 2012.
Neil Kilgour, Edinburgh Marathon Festival Race Director, said: "It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by since our first event in 2003 but we’re delighted that we have developed into one of the UK’s and Scotland’s major running occasions.
“Edinburgh Marathon Festival has it all – a great city that acts as a stunning backdrop to the event’s proceedings and a programme of races that means that everyone is catered for from children to marathon veterans. We’re looking forward to a great 10th birthday and welcoming back the thousands of runners who’ve supported the event over the years plus the thousands who will be joining us for the first time.”
Born in India on April 1 1911, Fauja was a farmer in the Punjab when he first developed a love for running. But the sport only became more serious more than half a century later after he moved to the UK. He completed his first marathon at the age of 89. He says he took up running after losing a son and later his wife – these losses left him demoralised and saddened and he felt he needed a new focus in his life.
With the help of his coach, Harminder Singh he started challenging other pensioners to races. He has run five marathons in London, one in Toronto and one in New York. He was recruited as the face of Adidas for their “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign in 2004 along with David Beckham and Muhammad Ali.
He holds the world record for the men’s marathon in the over 90 category. He ran the Toronto Waterfront marathon in 2003 in a time of five hours 40 minutes aged 92.
He trains every week, on a diet of ginger curry and cups of tea.
Fauja said: “If someone says I must stop running I ignore them — invariably they’re younger than me. The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress free. If there’s something you can’t change then why worry about it. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”
Last year, nine days after receiving his telegram from the Queen Fauja set another world record at the Newham Classic 10K in London- becoming the fastest ever 100 year old to run a 10K, completing it in 83 minutes.
Entries for this year’s events are sold out but 2013 entries open on Monday May 28, earlybird entries available until Friday June 15. Pre-register to secure a place at http://www.edinburgh-marathon.com/?pre-register