Saturday, April 12, 2008

Buster's Claim Doesn't Pass Muster

If 101-year-old runner Pierre "Buster" Martin reaches the finish line tomorrow in London, he would be the oldest person ever to complete a marathon. Assuming he really is 101.

Guinness officials said Friday that they did not consider Martin eligible for the record because he had never provided proof that he is 101.

A review by The Times of the documents Martin offered as proof of his age reveals that none were obtained with anything more than his own assertion that he was born Sept. 1, 1906, in France. The certificate of naturalization he provided was issued by the Home Office on Friday, based on an application made Thursday, when The Times first made inquiries.

"At the very least, there's no birth certificate. There's a lot of smoke and mirrors," said Robert Young, an independent senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records, though he was not speaking on behalf of the organization. Young said his sources had told him that Martin had two birth dates registered with the government: Sept. 1, 1906, and Sept. 1, 1913, which would make him 94. [Link]


Do they not have census records? Wouldn't the next available census show an age for him as a child? Then all you would have to do would be simple math to figure out his age.


Well, according to Wikipedia, Buster would have been in a Cornish orphanage in 1911 (if born in 1906) and 1921 (if born in 1913). The 1911 and 1921 UK censuses will be released in 2012 and 2022, respectively. Buster could make a Freedom of Information request to have his info released earlier, but even then it might be hard for the National Archives to track him down.


In France, the main sources used are birth records at the townhall, not at a national level. But we would need to at least know the "department" he was born in. Departments in France are larger than a US county, smaller than a state. There are one hundred of them. And of course his name is a very common one (close to "Smith" or "Jones"), otherwise, we could just look through all the records.

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