Among the pack of 65,000 runners that filled the city streets of Hong Kong during this weekend’s marathon, one stood out among the crowd. Not for his look, though the saffron turban and ZZ-Top-meets-Santa Claus white beard was certainly something to see. Not for age, though he already held the unofficial World Record as the oldest Marathoner before completing this 10K at 101-years-old. No, as Fauja Singh, a London-based Sikh, crossed the finish line in what would be his final race, it’s his story that stands out.
In 1992, he lost both his wife and a daughter. Two years later, Singh faced tragedy again when his youngest son and fellow farmer Kuldip was killed in a horrible accident right in front of him. Though it would be easy for a man, then in his mid-80’s to feel like life was no longer worth living and sink into depression, Singh instead found himself motivated and focused on life like he hadn’t been before.
After moving to London to live with his youngest son, Singh rediscovered a passion for running that he had as a young man. In 2000, at the age of 89, he ran the first of nine marathons he would complete before retiring this weekend. His fastest, the 2003 Toronto Marathon which his finished in 5:40.
Singh said before his final race this weekend, “From a tragedy has come a lot of success and happiness.”
With his 102nd birthday coming up on April 1st, Singh says he plans to continue to run for health, recreation and charity.
How are you responding to dark times in your life?
It’s so easy in life to do nothing when faced with adversity. When life starts to beat us down, it just seems natural to “turtle up” and take the beating. But, as Fauja Singh’s story shows us, even in the blackest times, there’s still a light to run to.
As Singh said a few years ago when asked about his life since rediscovering his passion, “Why worry about these small, small things? I don’t stress. You never hear of anyone dying of happiness.”
Don’t wait to go after what it is you love. Find it and chase it.