10 April, 2021

Roll Over Bannister

Name: Fauja Singh. Avocation, passion, destiny: Running marathons. Age: 99 years.

Nishtha Chugh
Roll Over Bannister

Forrest Gump ran and ran. At first, he ran up to the end of the road, then across town, eventually criss-crossing the country for the next three years until one day he stopped running suddenly, turned around and walked back home. Fauja Singh hasn’t heard of Forrest Gump, the protagonist of Winston Groom’s eponymous novel, which was subsequently filmed in 1994. But he hasn’t stopped running, nor does he plan to—not even when he turns 99 on April 1.

Fauja is the world’s oldest marathon runner, sweating it out at most competitions in the United Kingdom. A thin frame weighing 52 kgs, nearly 6 ft in height, with a flowing silver beard, sparkling black eyes set in a wrinkled face, a neatly tied turban on his head, watching a sprightly Fauja on the track is a bewitching sight—incredulous and inspiring. His matchstick-like legs seem to belie his grit, but they carry him with ease, and not a step falls out of line. Bathed in sweat, and with a placid expression permanently etched on his face, he steams...

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