May 21 2013 Latest news:
Alistair Kleebauer, Senior reporter
Monday, April 23, 2012
Redbridge’s very own record-breaking 101-year-old runner smashed his expected time for yesterday’s London Marathon and raised £1,000 for charity at the same time.
Fauja Singh, of Goodmayes, is believed to be the only centenarian to ever run a marathon and he inspired generations of runners by clocking a time of seven hours 49 minutes.
He had been set a target of eight hours 25 minutes, his time at last year’s Toronto Marathon, by bookies William Hill who pledged to donate £1,000 to Prostate Cancer Charity and Breast Cancer Care should he beat it.
His run, his ninth marathon, is likely to be his swansong over the distance on a day in which he attracted interest from fans lining the route, stars of the TV show The Only Way Is Essex and camera crews.
His trainer, Harmander Singh, 52, of Wellesley Road, Ilford, himself running in his 28th consecutive London Marathon, said Fauja, who speaks Punjabi, enjoyed the start and finish of his 26-mile challenge.
Harmander said: “He got a lot of support during the race, from old and young and from all walks of life.
“It kept him going.
“He was on target for the time I set him through most of the race.”
Fauja, who was given a celebrity place in the race by organisers, met Cara Kilbey and Billi Mucklow from TOWIE, who were also running.
Harmander said: “When we told them we were from Essex they seemed to like that.”
Running in a team of four and with his trainer backing him every step of the way, Fauja was joined by his son Sukhjinder Singh, who ran the last 10 miles as a pedestrian with his dad.
The tireless competitor also drew attention from camera crews who may have inadvertently stopped him posting an even faster time.
Harmander said: “He was afraid of running into the cameras.”
Once he was finished, and his post-race interview duties were completed, he had a celebratory meal with friends and family.
And he is likely to keep his post-race pledge to retire from the distance.
His trainer said: “He’s got nothing to prove, he’s achieved everything he can.
“He can play a significant role in inspiring people in the fight against obesity and good living by running shorter distances.”
Fauja is already booked in to run 10km at the Mauritius Marathon in July after running with its race director Wolfgang Slawisch yesterday.
Harmander, meanwhile, is pledging his services to the Royal Family after learning Prince William and Kate Middleton will run next year’s race.