ILFORD: 98-year-old marathon runner sets sights on world record (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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A 98-year-old marathon runner has set his sights on breaking the world record for the oldest ever marathon runner
AN INSPIRATIONAL runner has completed a race around his training route in the borough as he gears up to compete in his latest marathon – at the age of 98.
Fauja Singh, from Ilford, will run a leg of the Luxembourg InterFaith Marathon on May 15 as part of the Sikhs in the City team, who have a combined age of over 400.
They completed the first in a new weekly series of runs around Fauja's training route in Redbridge on Sunday (January 3).
Redbridge Mayor Thomas Chan came along to lend his support, and the race was started by former British Olympic athlete Tessa Sanderson.
Mr Singh has completed the 26.2-mile distance seven times – including five London marathons - since deciding, at the relatively sprightly age of 89, to take up running again after a five-decade gap to give himself new purpose in life.
The nonagenarian runner's trainer and mentor Harmander Singh – who has also trained Buster Martin, currently thought to be the oldest ever marathon runner – said the athlete was biding his time before attempting to run a full race.
Harmander said: “At the moment he's not able to complete the full distance, and he may only run one more, so we want to make sure that when he does it he will definitely be the oldest.
“One option is to run one at the age of 100. The New York City marathon have offered him $100,000 to do that, and of course he'd give all of that to charity.
“He hasn't kept a penny he's made from running. Even the money he earned from appearing in an Adidas advert with David Beckham a few years ago he gave to Bliss, which was the first charity he ran the London Marathon for in 2000.
“He attitude is 'you can't take it with you', so he gives it all away.”
When asked what his next aim is in the sport, Fauja said: “I won't stop running until I die. The next target, God willing, is to become the oldest marathon runner ever.”
For more information on the InterFaith Marathon, visit www.interfaith.lu.
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