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Fauja Singh
Fauja Singh in 2007.jpg
Singh in 2007
Personal information
Nickname(s) Turbaned Tornado
Running Baba
Sikh Superman
Nationality British
Born Beas Pind, Punjab, British India
Years active 2000–present
Height 1.72 m
Weight 53 kilograms (117 lb)
Country United Kingdom
Sport Marathon
Retired 24 February 2013
Updated on 26 January 2013.

Fauja Singh BEM (Punjabi: ਫੌਜਾ ਸਿੰਘ) is a British Sikh and retired marathon runner of Punjabi Indian descent. He has beaten a number of world records in multiple age brackets, but none of his times have been ratified as records. His personal best time for the London Marathon (2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes, and his marathon best, claimed for the 90-plus age bracket, is 5 hours 40 minutes at the alleged age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.


Early life

Fauja Singh claims to have been born in Beas Pind, Jalandhar, Punjab, British India on 1 April 1911, the youngest of four children. Singh did not walk until he was five years old. His legs were thin and weak, and he could hardly walk long distances. Because of this, he was often teased, and he was called by the nickname "danda" (Punjabi: ਡੰਡਾ for "stick") for the next ten years. As a young man, Singh was an avid amateur runner, but he gave it up at the time of the Partition of India.

Return to running as a passion

It was only after witnessing the death of his fifth son, Kuldip, in a construction accident in August 1994, that Singh returned to his passion for running, in 1995. The death of his wife in 1992, and his eldest daughter who had died from complications after giving birth to his third granddaughter, gave him the determination for this new focus in life. He emigrated to England in the 1990s and lives with one of his sons in Ilford.

At 89 years, he took seriously to running and ended up in international marathon events. When he first turned up for training at Redbridge, Essex, he was dressed in a three-piece suit. The coach had to rework everything, including his attire. Singh ran his first race, the London Marathon, in 2000. According to his coach, he used to run up to 20 kilometres easily and wanted to run a marathon, thinking it to be just 26 kilometres and not 26 miles (42 kilometres). It was after he realised this that he began training seriously.

At the age of 93, Singh completed a marathon in 6 hours and 54 minutes, 58 minutes quicker than the world best for the 90-plus age bracket. That same year, in 2004, he was featured in an advertising campaign for sportswear manufacturer Adidas alongside David Beckham and Muhammad Ali.

Singh bettered the UK records for the 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, mile and 3000 m for his, claimed, age group, all within a single 94-minute period, but they are not currently listed as records.

At the age of 100, Singh attempted and accomplished eight world age group records in one day, at the special Ontario Masters Association Fauja Singh Invitational Meet, held at Birchmount Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Timed by officials in Canada, he ran the 100 metres in 23.14, 200 metres in 52.23, the 400 metres in 2:13.48, the 800 metres in 5:32.18, the 1500 metres in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 metres in 24:52.47, and the 5000 metres in 49:57.39, setting five world records for his age group in one day. Some events had no previous record holder, as nobody over age 100 had ever attempted the distance. Some of his marks are significantly superior to the listed world record in the M95 age group as well. Three days later, on 16 October 2011, Singh was claimed to have become the first 100-year-old to finish a marathon, completing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. As it took him over 14 minutes after the gun to cross the starting line, the official time submitted, and declined, for the age group record was 8:25:17.

His biography, titled Turbaned Tornado, was formally released in the Attlee Room of Britain's House of Lords on 7 July 2011 by Lord Anthony Young of Norwood Green and retired British Crown Court judge Sir Mota Singh. The book was written by Chandigarh-based columnist and writer Khushwant Singh.

In October 2011, Singh, a vegetarian, became the oldest man to be featured in a PETA campaign.

In 2012, Fauja Singh participated as a special guest for the 2nd Annual Chardikala Run in Malaysia. The run was given a theme '101 and running' as a mark of respect for Singh. He was presented with The BrandLaureate Award on stage during the closing ceremony.

After taking part in the Hong Kong marathon on 24 February 2013, five weeks shy of his 102nd birthday, Singh stated that he would retire from competitive running. He completed the 10 kilometre run at the Hong Kong marathon in 1 hour 32 minutes and 28 seconds, and said that he intends to continue running for pleasure, health and charity.

Retirement from running

As of April 2023, Fauja no longer runs himself but still enjoys cheering on marathon runners at events.

Personal Life

Singh is 1.72 metres (5 feet 8 inches) tall and weighs 52 kg (115 lb). He attributes his physical fitness and longevity to abstaining from smoking and alcohol and to following a simple vegetarian diet. He has been quoted as saying "I am very careful about different foods. My diet is simple phulka, dal, green vegetables, yogurt and milk. I do not touch parathas, pakoras, rice or any other fried food. I take lots of water and tea with ginger. ... I go to bed early taking the name of my Rabba (God) as I don't want all those negative thoughts crossing my mind."

Speaking about the marathon, he said: "The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God."

Sikhs in the City

He is the eldest of a group of Sikhs who call themselves "Sikhs in the City". There were three other Sikhs, aged 79, 79 and 80, in the "Golden Oldies" team which ran the Edinburgh Marathon relay in 2009. The SITC running group are a now a well-established team based in East London, running marathons across the world with interfaith groups and raising money for Fauja Singh's charities.


On 13 November 2003, Singh was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition, a US group that advocates ethnic pride and tolerance. William Fugazy, the chairman of the coalition, said Singh is a symbol of racial tolerance, and his running helps bridge the gap created by the 11 September terrorist attacks. "He is the greatest inspiration," said Fugazy, and added that Singh was the first non-American to receive the honour.

He was awarded the "Pride of India" title by a UK-based organisation for his achievements in 2011.

In July 2012, Singh carried the Olympic torch.

Singh was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to sport and charity.


Running Career
  • Marathons run: London (6), Toronto (2), New York (1)
  • Marathon debut: London, 2000, aged 89
  • London Flora Marathon 2000: 6:54
  • London Flora Marathon 2001: 6:54
  • London Flora Marathon 2002: 6:45
  • Bupa Great North Run (Half Marathon) 2002: 2:39
  • London Flora Marathon 2003: 6:02
  • Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2003: 5:40
  • New York City Marathon 2003: 7:35
  • London Flora Marathon 2004: 6:07
  • Glasgow City Half Marathon 2004: 2:33
  • Capital Radio Help a London Child 10,000 m 2004: 1:08
  • Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2004: 2:29:59
  • Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2011: 8:11:0
  • London Marathon 2012 : 7:49:21
  • Hong Kong Marathon (10 km) 2012: 1:34 (raised $25,800 for charity)
  • parkrun uk 2012 – Age graded record holder: 179.04% with a time of 38:34
  • Hong Kong Marathon (10 km) 2013: 1:32:28
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