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In 2014 Stanislaw Kowalski broke the European record as the oldest marathon runner to complete the 100-meter dash in 32.79 seconds. Kowalski was born in 1910, which means that he broke this record at the incredible age of 104 years old. The video of Kowalski completing the 100 meter sprint has recently gone viral and it isn't hard to see why. Often people fear the degenerative nature of the human body. We fear losing mobility, endurance, and motivation to be active as time ticks on. Stories like that of Kowalski show us that it is possible to remain active even as we age.

Watch Kowalski competing in the European Masters Athletics Championships Indoor games in Poland.

Surprisingly, Kowalski is not the only 104-year-old smashing records; Fauja Singh is the oldest living marathon runner. Singh is a farmer from Punjab who began running long distance at the age of 81. He successfully completed a 26.2 mile marathon in six hours and 54 minutes and immediately fell into a spotlight around the world. Singh attributes much of his success to maintaining a positive outlook.

"It's all in the mind, people complain of joint pain because they are sitting too long." -Fauja Singh

Of course, people suffer from varying magnitudes of joint pain and not all of us have the physical capabilities to accomplish what Singh has, even at a much younger age. Fauja Singh continues to surprise us with his ability to forfeit any excuses and push the boundaries of age. He aims to raise money for local charities, he spoke out about his healthy lifestyle at the STOP Diabetes Foundation event, he carried the torch at the 2004 Athens Games, and he continues to promote the importance of reaching these physical goals by means of positive thinking.

Watch this salute to Singh and his own words about how running and healthy-living bring him happiness.

The stories of both Kowalski and Singh are ultimately about more than running distances and breaking records. The accomplishments of these inspiring people contradict the assumptions people hold about the process of aging and what it says about physical capability. There is no arguing that aging is a difficult process that can often lead to a reduction in mobility, the possible onset of health issues, and even an increase in overall physical pain. Kowalski and Singh teach us not to fear that natural process and not to give up on our physical abilities. Singh began running at age 81, which tells us that it is never too late to make lifestyle changes or take care of our bodies.

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Sources:

  1. 2016 Acharya, Mosiqi. SBS. "104 year old Fauja Singh runs the Mumbai Marathon."
  2. 2014 Bushak, Lecia. Medical Daily. "Stanislaw Kowalski, 104-Year-Old Runner, Breaks Record For 100-Meter Dash In Europe."
  3. 2011. CBC News. "100-year-old sets record with marathon finish."
  4. 2016. CBC News. "105-year-old marathoner coming to Peel Region to share healthy living advice."
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