Guinness questions the claim that Fauja Singh is the worlds oldest marathon finisher at 100
Is Fauja Singh really 100 years old? It is difficult enough just living to be a century, but add to this the ability to walk a 26.2 marathon in 8 hours.
This arose after Guinness Book of World Records reported that it hasn’t received proof of a birth certificate to confirm that Fauja Singh is the world’s oldest marathoner.
“Fauja is actually oblivious to the Guinness World Records,” said trainer Harmander Singh, no relation. “He wasn’t aware of them (at the time of the Oct. 16 race). And he’s still not aware of them.
“For Fauja, the important thing was to cross that finishing as the oldest runner at the age of 100, which, as far as he’s concerned, he’s done.
“But (the Guinness announcement) is certainly a distraction. And it’s taken the shine off this remarkable achievement, if true. It would be kind of Guinness World Records to acknowledge that their system isn’t totally infallible.”
In a statement, Guinness editor-in-chief Craig Glenday said his company has “yet to receive the documentary evidence that we need to confirm Mr. Singh as the world’s oldest marathon runner.”
Singh, who lives in east London, has a British passport that states he was born on April 1, 1911, but holds no birth certificate. The Punjabi speaker cannot read or write.
Birth certificates were not issued at the time of Singh’s birth in India, which was still an English colony at the time, according to Harmander Singh. He added that Guinness has been presented with other documentation, including a telegram from the Queen on the occasion of Singh’s 100th birthday.
Singh’s feat has officially been recognized by Ontario Masters Athletics, which organizes events for competitors over the age of 30, as well as its national counterpart.
Guinness has not closed the door on the possibility of eventually giving the green light to Singh’s inclusion in the record books.
“Like everyone who read about Mr. Singh, we were amazed by such an inspirational achievement — to finish a marathon at such an old age is awe-inspiring,” said Glenday’s statement. “As much as we’d love to ratify this record, we simply don’t have the proof.
“The claim will remain open until such evidence is provided — until then, we wish Mr. Singh all the best with his next challenge.”
It took Singh more than eight hours to cross the finish line of the gruelling 42.195-kilometre marathon — more than six hours after Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara won the event for the fourth straight year.
The five-foot-eight, 115-pound Singh was also the last competitor to complete the course.
It was Singh’s eighth marathon since competing in his first one at the age of 89 in 2000 in London.