Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Turbaned Torpedo runs his last . . . so he says!

'Bard on the Run' considers his future

Faujah Singh, who will be 102 years young on the 1st April, has run his last race. "I am retiring from competitive running," he told reporters last weekend in Hong Kong.

The turbaned torpedo, motto: "I run with God!", a running philosophy I have also adopted, and am completely at home with, competed in the Hong Kong 10 km race. And needless to say he completed the course in grand style. His recorded time was one minute faster than last year when he was aged only 100. For the record Faujah Singh's official race time this year was 1hr 32min 38sec.

Singh took up running in his 80's after the death of his wife and in order to overcome his great sadness. I must confess that I find his whole attitude to life admirable, stimulating, inspiring and exemplary. He has, as you might have guessed by now, become something of a role model for me, a mere youngster some 35 years his junior.

I took up running in the late 1980's, although I had always been something of an occasional jogger, as an aid to giving up smoking; and it wasn't long before I discovered that running was far more addictive than nicotine.

I've now been addicted to running for more than 25 years.

Unlike Faujah Singh I am definitely not a vegetarian,but I nearly am. My daily diet consists of wholemeal bread, pasta, beer, potatoes, and includes fruit and vegetables in season.  Now and then I partake of fish and eggs but only from local sources; those whom I trust completely. I never buy supermarket meat and I don't frequent fast food outlets.

For supplements I take a spoonful of sugar molasses, 3 or 4 times a week plus vitamin supplements as and when I feel I need them (for example a sunshine vitamin during winter).

I don't take any performance enhancing drugs or use any artificial aids such as asthma inhalers.

Unlike my hero, who lives in London, I don't train on the roads. Living in Vienna I am most fortunate to have the Vienna Woods on my doorstep. I make use of the many miles of woodland trails. Not only is the air of the best quality, as I am away from the traffic, but the stresses on my aging joints and limbs are much less traumatic than they otherwise would be. This is because I am running over natural and varied surfaces as opposed to unforgiving miles of tarmac and concrete.

I don't ever pray but I do, as Singh says: ". .  run with God". If I ever do pray it will be that I can maintain enthusiasm and strength sufficient to enable me to ". . run till I die". What else dare one ask for?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Yet another one . . .

According to news reports a 48-year old local man who happens to be an  ultra-runner, a triathlete and the author of a well-known athletics book (currently advertised on Amazon and other websites) has been arrested here in Vienna and charged with smuggling methamphetamine into Austria (allegedly for his own use).

There is a law here in Austria that prevents the authorities from releasing the full name of this local celebrity. 

Photographs in today's newspapers show the literary athlete complete with a censorship rectangle printed in black over his eyes.

Some casual detective work on the internet, using clues conveniently sprinkled in press reports, quickly turns up the man's identity.


It's a terrible time for sport. 

Following the Lance Armstrong confessions we now have the long-awaited Fuentes trail, which has taken 7 years to come to court, taking place in Spain where the good Doctor Fuentes claims to have a list of 200 sports dopers (58 cyclists and many footballers).

We've come down a rotten path since the days of Roger Bannister running the 4-minute mile in his leather shoes on the cinder track and the spirit of Chariots of Fire when an athlete wouldn't compete for a gold medal on a Sunday and the most dangerous drug was a casual cigarette after training.

It was an era when the big deal wasn't about winning and losing but more about the spirit of fairness; about how you conducted yourself, became an example to others, how you played the game.

If life wasn't fair then at least your chosen sport would be.

Will sport ever find a level playing field again? That is the question. I fear I already know the answer.