x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

100 per cent running

The story of the 100-year-old marathon runners shows that it is never too late to start improving your lifestyle.

One day, getting up from his rocking chair, a man starts walking, then picks up his pace, and then breaks into a run. And then, with a crowd of devotees tagging along, Forrest Gump just keeps on running.

That 1994 movie is often cited as an inspiration, but it has nothing on the real-life running story of Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old man living in east London. Mr Singh, who is visiting Dubai this week, made international headlines last month when he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. He beat five other runners and would like to be included in the Guinness world records as the oldest marathon runner in the world. It makes sense: how many centenarians can there be in the field?

But there has been a hitch. Mr Singh was born in India in 1911, before birth certificates were being issued. His passport, which shows his birth date, apparently does not suffice.

What is more remarkable is that Mr Singh says he started running seriously just 11 years ago. There is still hope, it seems, for spring chickens who are a mere 89.

What is the lesson in all of this? Gump said he "just felt like running", but Mr Singh offers a more candid lesson: "The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free," he told the BBC. "Stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running."