On October 16, 1965, a young man from India made history. His name was Santokh Singh and he became the first Indian to win the Boston Marathon. Even more impressive is the fact that his record time of 2:21:14 has still not been beaten by another Indian runner, 40 years later.
So, how did Singh become the first Indian to win the Boston Marathon? And what is marathon running like in India today? Let’s take a look.
Indian Marathon Runner
Santokh Singh’s Path to Victory
Born in the village of Lashkarpur in Punjab, India, Singh began running long distances as a way to get to school each day.
When he was just 13 years old, he ran his first marathon and won with a time of 3:40:00. From there, he went on to compete in several more marathons before eventually qualifying for the 1965 Boston Marathon.
In an interview with The Hindu newspaper conducted shortly after his big win, Singh said that he had not been expecting to do as well as he did. “I was only hoping to finish,” he said. “But once I got going I realized that I had a chance.”
And boy, did he ever have a chance! Not only did Singh finish the race, but he won it with a time of 2:21:14—a time that would stand as an Indian marathon record for decades to come.
Running in India Today
Since Singh’s historic victory, marathon running has grown in popularity in India. In fact, there are now dozens of marathons held throughout the country every year. The most popular race is probably the Mumbai Marathon, which attracts over 40,000 runners each year.
However, marathon running in India still has a long way to go before it reaches the level of popularity seen in other countries such as the United States.
According to RunningUSA’s annual report on U.S. road racing trends, there were nearly 18 million finishers at road races held throughout the United States in 2015 alone.
That number is sure to increase in the years to come as more and more people discover the joys of running—marathon or otherwise.
Santokh Singh made history 40 years ago when he became the first Indian runner to win the Boston Marathon. Even though his record time has yet to be beaten by another Indian runner, marathon running has grown in popularity throughout India since his big win.
With dozens of races being held every year, including the Mumbai Marathon which attracts thousands of runners annually, it’s safe to say that Santokh Singh’s historic victory started a running revolution in India that is still going strong today.
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