Sunday March 3, 2013
Running the marathon of life
By Soo Ewe Jin
Just like the real marathon, it is important to maintain a steady pace, whatever our current station in life.
FAUJA Singh, nicknamed the Turbaned Torpedo, has finally hung up his running shoes after finishing the Hong Kong marathon’s 10km race last Sunday in a time of one hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds.
He will turn 102 this April 1. Although there are no official records to confirm the birth date stated on his British passport, no one will deny him the right to be known as the oldest marathon runner in the world.
“I will remember this day. I will miss it,” Fauja, a great-grandfather, told the Associated Press minutes after crossing the finishing line.
According to the AP report, Fauja took up running as a way to get over depression after his wife and son died in quick succession in India in 1994. It was in 2000, at the age of 89, that he ran the London marathon, his first, and went on to do eight more. His best time so far was five hours and 40 minutes at the 2003 Toronto marathon.
“From a tragedy has come a lot of success and happiness,” Fauja said before the race as he explained how running has changed his life, allowing an illiterate farmer to travel the world, meet dignitaries and stay in five-star hotels.
I have always dreamed of taking part in a marathon, or even a half marathon. But I know if I ever did try, the organisers would have to wait forever for me to straggle up to the finishing line.
But we are, in one way or the other, running the marathon of life. And just like the real marathon, it is important to maintain a steady pace, whatever our current station in life.
We certainly cannot sprint like Usain Bolt, currently the fastest man on earth, if we want to finish a long-distance race.
But the world today is such that everyone seems to be in a hurry. “Slow down, you move too fast,” we may hum the song to ourselves, even as we press “fast forward” on the remote control when we feel the movie is moving too slowly.
On the bus journey back from Penang, I managed to finish the book Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly, who was CEO of the accounting firm KPMG, when at the age of 53, he was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.
The doctors told him he had, at the most, three months, to live. The book, which was a New York Times bestseller, is an amazing story of a classic Type A personality who had spent the last 30 years striving and achieving and ending up climbing to the top of his field.
Faced with the reality that his life marathon would be cut short, O’Kelly sprinted through his last 100 days and rediscovered the world around him that he had taken for granted.
He had to live for the moment because it no longer made sense to think about the past or a non-existent future. But being the systematic man he was, he prepared a to-do list two days after learning he had cancer, and began the process to say goodbye to friends and loved ones.
I was 15 minutes from the bus terminal at Sunway Pyramid when I finished the last page. It was a good reminder that a five-hour bus journey, when one is less likely to be interrupted by busy people, can be time well spent to read a book, write a letter or simply to slow down.
That’s what the marathon of life is all about.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (firstname.lastname@example.org) believes that we must appreciate the route in the marathon of life, and not just focus on the destination.