Monday, October 17, 2011

Run Fauja, Run

I enjoyed the movie "Forrest Gump", although I never did quite understand why he did all the running. "I just felt like running", he responded when asked. He ran for three years. One day, he stopped. By then, his hair and beard had grown down to his chest.

Running is solitary. Even when it takes place in a large group, it's an individual activity. For some, this sport seems to be very liberating. For others, covering a prescribed distance in a certain amount of time is considered a major personal achievement. Then there are those who simply enjoy the "runner's high" attained from the rush of endorphins in the body.

There was a brief time when I considered running in a marathon...not a full one, a partial one. It seemed like a worthy goal, something else to add to the list of things I'd done in my lifetime. For a variety of reasons, I lost interest, although I did manage a 5k run. It was just five kilometers, but nonetheless an accomplishment. I was 60 years old at the time and it was January...brrr. It satisfied me. I was done.
 I know there are professionals who run in every marathon possible. Some participate in quarter and half marathons for added training or competitive opportunities, although to many, those races are more like a fun run or a walk in the park. How frustrating it must be for the newer competitors who are huffing and puffing to complete a run, as experienced racers zoom past, pushing baby strollers as an added challenge. On the other hand, perhaps it provides them with inspiration...a goal to aspire toward. 

According to Wikipedia, there are over 500 marathons that take place in the world each year. The official marathon distance is just over 26 miles or 42 kilometers. Runners travel from far away places to participate in the more prestigious and challenging of these events. The most well recognized North American marathons take place in Boston, New York and Chicago. In fact, shortly after crossing the finish line of the most recent Chicago marathon, one of the runners started having contractions. She gave birth a short time later. Amazing!
Not to be outdone by this very newsworthy event in Chicago, Toronto's recent Waterfront Marathon captured media as well as Guiness Record Book attention. This past weekend, over 20 thousand people from many parts of the world took part in the Toronto marathon. There were olympians and world record holders. There were ordinary citizens, young and old. Among them, was another bearded runner, Fauja Singh. What made him unique was the fact that he was 100 years old, the oldest person ever to complete a marathon run. It is said that he began training and running marathons when he was 80. For some, it's clearly never too late. He completed the Waterfront Marathon in just over 8 hours. Dare I say that there are many half his age who couldn't even stay awake that long?

Appropriately, his participant number was 100.

So this blog is dedicated to Fauja, an inspiration. May he keep on running well into his next century.

***Thanks to R. Piat for the photo of Mr. Singh


  1. Did you know that, "In 2008, Running USA reported that the half marathon is the fastest growing type of race." A 2010 article by Universal Sports echoed the growing popularity of the distance. Running a half marathon is both physically and mentally demanding. I would hardly call a half marathon a "fun run or a walk in the park".

  2. Thanks for your comment. I totally agree that half marathons are a fantastic accomplishment particularly for novice and intermediate runners. People who train for and are able to complete these are to be congratulated. I was simply suggesting that for "some" of the pro runners, it's no longer as big a deal as it probably once was. Surely you have seen the individuals I'm talking about...running strollers and all. They still seem to set records. By the way, for someone to complete their first half marathon at age 66 is admirable and a very big deal. Keep on running. Hilde