Every excuse you’ve ever used to not get out of bed and run in the morning has just been trumped.
Fauja Singh, at the ripe old age of 101, finished the Hong Kong marathon’s 6.25-mile course Sunday with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds. It was the last race for the world’s oldest marathon runner.
“I will remember this day. I will miss it,” he said shortly after crossing the finish line.
The Indian-born Singh, at 100, became the oldest man to run a full marathon when he finished Toronto’s waterfront marathon in 2011. Guinness World Records didn’t recognize his accomplishment because he didn’t have a birth certificate to prove his age, despite holding a British passport with his birthday as April 1, 1911. Indian government officials have said birth records weren’t kept in 1911.
Singh, who earned the nickname the Turbaned Torpedo for his distinctive saffron headdress, reflected on the end of his journey before the race with the help of his coach and interpreter, Harmander Singh.
“I am feeling a bit of happiness and a bit of sadness mixed together,” he said in a pre-race interview. “I am happy that I am retiring at the top of the game but I am sad that the time has come for me to not be part of it.”
For all the good that has come out of the great-grandfather’s running career, allowing an illiterate farmer to travel the world, meet dignitaries and stay in five-star hotels, his entry into the sport was decidedly dark.
Singh began running at the age of 89 as a way to combat depression after his wife and son died in quick succession.
“From a tragedy has come a lot of success and happiness,” Singh said before the race. He also hopes his good run continues past retirement and that people will continue to invite him to events “rather than forget me altogether just because I don’t run anymore.”