Singh, 100, finishes marathon in Toronto

A 100-year-old man Sunday became the first centenarian to complete a marathon when he finished the 26.2-mile event in Toronto.

Fauja Singh, a British citizen who was born in India, completed the run just before 6 p.m. local time in eight hours, 11 minutes and 5.9 seconds, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

It was Singh’s eighth marathon. He set a record in the 90-plus age category in 2003 — also in the Toronto marathon — finishing in five hours, 40 minutes and one second.

However, this year’s event was marred by the death of a 27-year-old man who collapsed just 320 yards from the finish line.

The man was taken from the course about 11:15 a.m. and transported to a hospital, where he later died.

Police did not confirm if the man was competing in the marathon, half-marathon or 5-kilometer run being held Sunday, but the Canadian Press reported that it appeared he suffered a heart attack while running the half-marathon.

About 22,000 people participated in the three races, and the marathon was won by Kenneth Mungara of Kenya in a time of 2:09:51.

Meanwhile, Singh, who was the last runner to complete the course, said he was overjoyed at his achievement.

"Beating his original prediction, he’s overjoyed," his coach and translator Harmander Singh said.

"Earlier, just before we came around the [final] corner, he said, ‘Achieving this will be like getting married again.’

"He’s absolutely overjoyed, he’s achieved his lifelong wish."

The coach said his runner had been aiming for a time of about nine hours.

While in Toronto, Fauja Singh on Thursday broke world records for runners older than 100 in eight different distances ranging from 100 meters to 5,000 meters.

Singh, who speaks only Punjabi, was born on a farm in India in April 1911 and is 5-feet-8 and weighs just 115 pounds.

He has said previously that part of his secret is that he eats a light vegetarian diet of mainly tea, toast and curry.

Singh took up running about 20 years ago after losing his wife and child in tragic circumstances.