Wednesday, March 13

Fauja Singh, the runner

Dear Kannu

Here's a fascinating story about the oldest marathon runner. A man who lost his son and took up running to manage his grief. 

That's indomitable courage. Not common son. Not common at all. And it's not a question of fear kannu. Everybody is afraid. The question is what do you do with the fear. Fear of pain. Fear of death. Fear of life. Fear of loneliness. The truly brave go ok and conquer the fear and do exactly what they are afraid of. 

Marathons are like that. When I'm on the bike and cross the 100km mark, then I start thinking about taking a taxi back. Jumping on a bus. Taking the train. So I fool myself and just go around further. 

Age is also nothing to do with courage kannu. Look at didu, weight diabetes knee problems but she goes gallivanting around the world exploring new countries and cultures. Dadu has now gone through two open heart surgeries and is going strong. Looking forward to meeting you in jan next year. 

I like how you are passionate as well son. Like your exercises. Or how you study. Keep it up kannu. compete against yourself. Your own mind and body's limitations. I'm proud of you. 


OTL: Fauja Singh, the runner - ESPN


By Jordan Conn

THE PARTY WOULD BEGIN just as soon as the race ended. And the race would end just after Fauja Singh crossed the line in 3,851st place. By finishing then — by finishing at all — Fauja would do what no man before him had ever done. Amid the bundled and cheering crowd in Toronto, underneath a distended but gracious sky, he would complete a marathon. And he would do so at 100 years old.

Was it pain he felt as he approached the end, just footsteps away from redefining the limits of human endurance? No, this wasn’t pain. Fauja knew pain. Pain was death — you see plenty of that when you live 100 years. Pain was bloody limbs and overtaxed joints — you get too much of that when you insist on completing every race you ever start. This wasn’t pain but exhaustion. And Fauja could handle exhaustion, because exhaustion foreshadowed euphoria. When Fauja got tired, it often meant a record would soon fall.

He’d already broken a few. Fastest to run a marathon (male, over age 90), fastest to run 5,000 meters (male, over age 100), fastest to run 3,000 meters (male, over age 100), and on and on they went. But those records didn’t roll off the tongue the way this one would. Oldest person to complete a marathon (male): Fauja Singh.The other feats had earned him recognition from the Masters Federation websites. This one would put him in the Guinness World Records. An official with the company had contacted Fauja’s coach, Harmander Singh (no relation) several weeks earlier. Harmander told Fauja that Guinness would send representatives to watch Fauja run in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and as soon as he finished, they would award him the recognition he deserved.

So Fauja ran in Toronto, arms swinging, yellow turban bobbing, chest-length Zeusian beard swaying in the wind. He was joined by other runners with roots in the Indian region of Punjab, their appearance in keeping with the traditions of their Sikh faith. Fauja trotted for the first three miles, until his coach encouraged him to slow to a jog. Speed was fleeting, the enemy of endurance. By mile 6, he’d downshifted to a toddle. After a break for a rubdown and some tea at mile 18, he settled into a walk.

The exhaustion took hold sometime around mile 20, but Harmander kept Fauja upbeat with white lies about the remaining distance. He’d tell Fauja there were four miles left when there were actually six, then two miles left when there were actually three, making Fauja believe he’d covered more ground than he actually had, until finally Fauja saw the only mile-marker he understood: the finish line.

What had been silence between footsteps was now music and cheers. The slog to the finish reminded Fauja of his wedding day, of the joy that awaited at the end of the long aisle. He waved to the crowd as he walked across the line, then lifted his arms and accepted a medal. He’d finished in 8 hours, 25 minutes. There were smiles and handshakes and photos with friends and strangers, then a rambling news conference for Fauja to reflect on his record. Amid the chaos and congratulations, however, Fauja and Harmander never noticed the absence of one celebrant they’d expected.

They didn’t realize that Guinness was nowhere to be found.

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