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NRI Fauja Singh 94, completes race at Edinburgh Marathon

Congratulations to everyone who was involved the biggest ever Edinburgh Marathon on the 12 th June. Huge thanks go to the 1000+ volunteers who made the event run so smoothly.

UK, June 14, 2005

Key points
• Edinburgh Marathon a big success in its third year
• Among contestants are four Sikhs...
• with combined age of 397!

Key quote
"By running as the oldest ever marathon relay team, I hope we will inspire young people to keep going and older people never to give up." - Fauja Singh

Story in full
THE world's oldest marathon runner and a Darfur refugee who has been refused asylum status in Britain were among the 11,000 taking part in yesterday's Edinburgh Marathon.

NRI (non-resident Indian) Fauja Singh, a 94-year-old father of four and grandfather of 13 from Punjab in India, successfully completed the race, which is in its third year.

The main event, which involved 6,000 runners from 45 countries, was won by the 25-year-old Kenyan Zachary Kihara. Cambuslang Harriers' Robert Gilroy was the first British runner across the line, and the first female was Russian favourite Zinaida Semenova, with Aberdeen-born Shona Crombie Hicks in second.

But it was the 5,000 who took part in the relay marathon that received much of the attention.

NRI, Fauja Singh and his team of five runners, competing under the name Sikhs in the City, boasted a combined age of 397. He said: "I am extremely honoured to have been invited to start this year's Edinburgh Marathon. By running as the oldest ever marathon relay team, I hope we will inspire young people to keep going and older people never to give up."

Organisers said the event raised £1.5 million for more than 100 good causes, as well as generating an estimated £1 million for the local economy. The Protect Darfur campaign also put forward a team for the relay marathon, which included Anwar Bakar, a 24-year-old Darfur man who has been refused asylum in the UK and told it is safe to return.

He used the marathon as a means of raising awareness of the campaign, and called on the government to understand that his people, the Fur, could be wiped out. He said: "They [the Janjaweed militia] will keep doing this. As soon as they know you are Fur, they kill you immediately. They will wipe out our whole race.

"They want to be in power. They just imagine that we are an idiot people, that we are just ignorant, that we shouldn't have anything to do with them because we are a weak people."

He has been told by immigration officers that he would be safe in Khartoum, but that is a claim that he strongly denies. He said: "How can somebody from here send me to Khartoum when that will happen to me?"


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Fauja Singh: a mere 94!
Picture: Ian Rutherford