It was after the tragic loss of one of his sons in the 1990s that Fauja Singh Chindsa started to run in earnest.
He began running greater distances, and when he hit 20 kilometres, he set his eyes on a 42-kilometre marathon.
The 101-year-old has now run several, and holds the world record for the oldest person to complete a marathon – a feat he completed in Toronto last year, finishing the 26.2-mile race in eight hours, 25 minutes, 17 seconds.
His best marathon time ever was four-and-a-half hours.
Tomorrow (Sunday), Chindsa will be running in the Mayor’s 5K race, sponsored by The Leader, this Sunday in North Surrey.
At a media event at Bear Creek Park on Tuesday, it’s clear the man who has been dubbed the “Turbaned Tornado” has become a celebrity.
“He is the honour of our nation,” said Chenchel Singh Sidhu, 75, who gathered with about 10 other Indo-Canadian men to meet Chindsa.
What’s the secret to his health and longevity?
He watches what he eats (lots of tea and ginger curry), and walks four to five hours a day.
He said he doesn’t fear hitting the track at his age.
“If he’s running, yes, death can come to him, but he said, ‘what if I walk out of the race and a bus hits me? I’m going to die regardless’,” said his granddaughter Simmi Dhillon, who was translating for Chindsa. “So why not die on the track where I do what I love to do?”
Chindsa is originally from Jalandar, India. He moved to Ilfrod, in East London, in 1992 after the death of a son. He’s in Surrey on A stopover, visiting with some friends before heading to Toronto, where he’s running in another marathon event.
From plane crash to half-marathon
On May 6 of this year, Maurice Erickson was just taking off in a plane out of Pitt Meadows airport when things went wrong.
He lost power in the single-engine Mustang 2 on take-off and crashed. He immediately felt the singe of fire in the cockpit and determined he had to get out fast.
It turned out he had about 15 seconds before the plane was fully engulfed in flames. He popped the escape latch, and slid to safety.
Erickson (left) suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and hands and also fractured two vertebrae.
As a runner who had completed three marathons (42 kilometres each), one ultra-marathon (60 kilometres) and half-a-dozen half-marathons (21 kilometers each), Erickson wants to keep in shape.
So the Newton resident is running in the half-marathon in Surrey this Sunday – just over four months since his accident.
North Surrey roads closed Sunday
The Surrey International Music Marathon, along with the half-marathon and the 5K take place Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 a.m. in Surrey City Centre.
Anyone looking to travel through North Surrey Sunday morning will have to consider alternate routes.
Several roads will be closed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those roads range from 88 Avenue to the south, 108 Avenue to the north, 128 Street to the west, and 148 Street to the east.
A full map of the route and road closures can be found at this link: http://bit.ly/QbMUbJ.
For more information about the marathon, visit http://surreymarathon.com/.