Toronto, Oct 17: Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old runner of Indian-origin has set a new Guinness record of being the oldest person to complete a full-distance marathon here.
It took Singh over eight hours to cross the finish line, more than six hours after Kenya's Kenneth Mungara won the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon yesterday for the fourth straight year.
Singh was the last competitor to complete the course but entered the Guinness Book of World Records. He accomplished the amazing feat, becoming the oldest person ever to complete a full-distance 42-kilometre marathon.
Singh, who only speaks Punjabi, also surprised himself. Through his interpreter, he said he had set a goal of finishing the race in about nine hours.
“Beating his original prediction, he's overjoyed,” his coach and translator Harmander Singh was quoted as saying by the Toronto Star.
“Earlier, just before we came around the (final) corner, he said, “Achieving this will be like getting married again.” “He is absolutely overjoyed, he has achieved his life-long wish,” the coach added.
Although event workers dismantled the barricades along the finish line and took down sponsor banners as Singh made his way up the final few hundred metres of the race, awaiting him was the media, family, friends and supporters.
Yesterday's run was Fauja Singh's eighth marathon. He ran his first at the tender age of 89 and wasn't the first time he set a record.
In the 2003 Toronto event, he set the mark in the 90-plus category, finishing the race in five hours 40 minutes and one second.
And on Thursday in Toronto, Singh broke world records for runners older than 100 in eight different distances ranging from 100 metres to 5,000 metres.
Singh, a five-foot-eight, 115-pound British citizen and vegetarian, looked tired following the race. Affectionately dubbed the Turbaned Tornado, Singh began running roughly 20 years ago after losing his wife and child.
The five-foot-eight centurion said he's happy to see more minorities taking part in such marathon events and is hopeful his next project will be participating in the torch relay for the 2012 London Summer Games.
Singh carried the torch during the relay for the 2004 Athens Games.