100-Year-Old Marathoner Denied Place in Guinness Book of World Records

Record-keepers say they need a birth certificate

By Greg Wilson
|  Monday, Oct 24, 2011  |  Updated 11:43 AM PDT
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Fauja Singh is 100, and the oldest person ever to finish a marathon.

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Guinness Book of World Records has a few birthers, apparently.

Officials at the record-recognizing body say Fauja Singh, who completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in just over eight hours earlier this month, cannot be credited as the first centenarian of all time to complete a 26.2-mile race.

Singh has a British passport that says he was born April 1, 1911, plus a letter from the Queen congratulating him for turning 100. But he has no birth certificate. His trainer, Harmander Singh, says such  documents were not even made in India when Singh was born.

"We would love to give him the record," Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday told the BBC. "We'd love to say this is a true Guinness World Record, but the problem is there is just no evidence.

"We can only accept official birth documents created in the year of the birth," added Glenday. "Anything else is really not very useful to us."

Singh did not start running marathons until he was 89, after he moved to England following the death of his wife and son. He says not smoking or drinking alcohol throughout his life, combined with a vegetarian diet and up to 10 miles of walking or running per day are the secrets to his health.

"He says no one is forcing him to do it. It's his desire to do it," coach and translator Harmander Singh told CNN. "He wanted to do one when he's 100 and today's the day."

Singh ran wearing his yellow turban and a matching T-shirt with the words " Sikhs in the City" emblazoned across the front. His time of 8:25.17 was more than six hours behind winner Kenneth Mungara of Kenya, who is 38.

The Association of Road Racing Statistician already had Singh as the oldest person to complete a marathon, for one he ran seven years ago. But the Guinness Book of World Records recognized  Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, who ran in Athens in 1976.

Singh recently set eight world records for his age group in one day at a special invitational meet in Toronto. He ran the 100 meters in 23.14, 200 meters in 52.23, the 400 meters in 2:13.48, the 800 meters in 5:32.18, the 1500 meters in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 meters in 24:52.47 and the 5000 meters in 49:57.39.

"I have said it before: that I will carry on running, as it is keeping me alive," Singh told the marathon website.

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