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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

1283- Mumbai marathoner claims at 116 he is world’s oldest

VAnand TNN

Mumbai: Heads turned as Dharampal Gujjar Gudha practised on Saturday for the Vasai-Virar Mayor’s marathon in Mumbai on Saturday. Tall and thin, he moved with complete ease. But those who thought he was rather impressively fit for an 80-year-old were in for an even bigger surprise: he claimed he was 116.
Organizers said they had seen Gudha’s passport, which mentions 1897 as his year of birth. Even his PAN card states he is 116, they said. If the claims are true, it would not only mean that Gudha has straddled three centuries and is the world’s oldest marathoner, but that he could possibly be the oldest person in the world.

Salustiano Sanchez, the world’s oldest man at 112, died in New York in September this year, and the world’s oldest person, a Japanese woman by the name of Misao Okawa, is 115 years old.
Gudha said he was born “in the village of the Pandavas, Hastinapur”, and claimed he has been running since he was a teenager. “When I was young, I used to run... to the neighbouring village, which was about 600-700 metres away. I would run several laps. I did not know how to run then, the technique of it, but I did it on instinct.” He claimed he got married when he was 50. That was in 1947, the year in which Indian gained Independence. Before that, he once met Mahatma Gandhi, he said in his Sanskritized Hindi. “I don’t remember the year, but I met him at Sabarmati Ashram. He taught me a philosophy that I have lived with all my life. Do your work, he said, and that will help you stay healthy.”

About his work, Gudha has said on his Facebook profile, “Agriculture was the main occupation of the family and (sic) worked hard irrespective of vagaries of weather and I too followed the traditional pursuit.”

He said the secret of his long life was a ‘chatni’ that he prepared himself. “It is made of several herbs. I have been having it every day,” he said. Even for this trip to Mumbai, he prepared his “life-giving” chatni for the duration of his stay away from his village.

He said he had never had sugar in his life. “Sugar is poison,” he said, and claimed that he had also avoided all forms of intoxication. The only ambition he has left in life is to beat 101-year-old Fauja Singh’s record of finishing the 10 km marathon.


(Times of India, 28:10:2013)

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