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I haven’t really run since the New York Marathon.

I wanted to, as I was all fired up about my training for next years London Marathon, but I’ve just been a bit fatigued and a bit preoccupied with some pretty exciting business developments which are going on behind the scenes.

However, there was one race fast approaching that every year I say I am going to do and then every year I forget.

It’s the Sikhs in the City Dawn til Dusk race.

The Sikhs in the City running club in East London was formed over 10 years ago by five individuals aged between 79 and 88 including the legend that is marathon runner Fauja Singh…who is now aged 106 and still active in the running world, although no longer running the

26.2 mile

distance.

The Event is a multiple lap race comprising three distances (Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Ultra Marathon 50km plus) all starting at Sunrise and finishing by Sunset. There is also a 10km race that happens on the same day. Each lap is officially measured at 2.014k and there is a feeding station at the start/finish of each lap.

Lots of people from my running club East London Runners take part every year and I was determined to get involved, although having left it to the last minute I could only get a place for the 10K, which in the end suited me just fine.

I arrived around 9am for the 10am start of the 10K. The runners for the other 3 races had been running for an hour and were all looking super strong. It was chilly but the weather was so much better than the day before where it rained non stop…not sure if I would have been able to face that.

A lovely lady from our Barking & Dagenham group called Sule was running the 10K too. Her first ever race. The furthest she has ever run. She is currently training for the London Marathon, and I am so proud of what she has achieved so far.

Understandably she was a little nervous, but you couldn’t ask for a friendlier race…and you couldn’t get lost, it was just one 2.014km loop which is officially measured and registered as the Fauja Singh Training Course

Fauja Singh holds UK records for the 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, mile and 3000 m for his age group.

On 16 October 2011, Singh became the first 100-year-old to finish a marathon, completing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. However, Guinness World Records refused to include Singh in its record book because he could not produce his birth certificate to prove his age. Birth records were not kept in India in 1911. He was, however, able to produce a passport listing his date of birth as 1 April 1911, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating him on his 100th birthday.

I spotted Fauja at the start line dressed in a brown suit and smart shoes. I remembered back in around 2006 when I ran in a local 10K race in Newham, I had ran my fastest 10K ever…only to find that he had finished before me….I remember thinking how funny that was.But back to the race.It was cold at the start line, so I was glad when we were given a briefing and we got started.

The first part of the loop was a slow steady hill, in fact the first kilometer is kind of uphill and then its either flat or downhill for a bit.

It took a while for the blood to reach my toes. My running was consistent but I was no means fast.

It felt great chatting to people along the way, and stopping at each lap for a little bit of water or squash.

The people doing the longer distance races were well taken care of for fuelling, there was all kind of snacks and treats and a whole heap of delicious vegetarian Indian foods.

The laps passed without any drama.

My friend Maya made me run a little faster than I wanted to, in part because we were nattering and I didn’t notice, so my final two laps without her was a bit slower.

On the second from last lap I spotted Fauja, he was doing a lap on foot in his suit and brogues…a gentle walk, being greeted by runners as they passed him. All I can say is wow. 106 or 107 and still going strong, still living life. What a man.

I finished just short of one hour 30, not fast but in truth I just wanted to cover the distance and see how my legs felt after almost 6 weeks of no real running.

I was a little saddened not to go for the half marathon, but next year I think I will go for the ultra…there is something just so inviting about seeing what you can do in 8 hours.

My running club East London Runners put on a brilliant show of strength, a bloke called Terry (tall guy in the middle) won the half marathon, Alexandra (crouching) came in 2nd lady overall with 33 laps in 7h48 mins, and Maud (with the pink backpack, who is simply a machine) came in first saying

Sometimes I can be a bit flaky mentally, but yesterday I didn’t waver. My fastest mile was 10.04 (mile 41) and my slowest 10.48 – pretty consistent over 8 hours. I would cheekily love to try for the course record one day (2 more laps), but the only way I’ll manage that is to get quicker – I don’t think I could have done much more yesterday. Happy and proud.

I think I would like to interview Maud next year about her RunEqual campaign to make Cross Country race Distances even between men and women…you ladies would love her. She is a wonderful ambassodor for womens sport, and has always been a wonderful supporter of me…as have my whole running club.

I finished the event off with a couple of vegetable samosas, a photo with the main man himself and a bit of a natter with Sule (who did brillaintly by the way), before going home for a warm bath and a Christmas movie

That will be the last race of 2018…I will possibly do parkrun on Xmas day, and maybe try and squeeze in one more long run…and then it’s all about upping the distance again for London in April.

A massive thank you to the organisers of yesterdays event. I felt very proud to be from that part of the world yesterday.

Not to self, should have taken photos of the Samosas!!!!

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