Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sumo Marathoner

It's been a goal of his since elementary school.

Four-hundred-pound three-time national sumo wrestling champion Kelly Gneiting is in the books as the heaviest man to complete a marathon. Yesterday, he crossed the finish line at the Los Angeles Marathon in just under 10 hours, beating his previous PR of 11:52:11.

"I'd like to see the Kenyan improve his marathon time by two hours," he joked.
Gneiting jogged the first eight miles and walked the final 18, saying afterward that he lost track of where he was after mile 10 because he felt delirious. Gneiting said he realized that he was at mile 15 only because his friend met him there with clean socks.

He finished the 26.2-mile race despite heavy rains and strong winds. For much of the race, he was also forced to obey traffic signals and walk on the sidewalk because he was walking far more slowly than the 13-minute-per-mile-pace used for calculating street reopenings.

"I was really struggling in the last five miles," he said, "but I said to myself, 'If I have to crawl, I will.'"
I'm not at all convinced that long-distance running was the optimal form of exercise for Gneiting, and he may not be much of a runner, but he's still a hell of an athlete:
"I honestly think I'm one of the best athletes in the world," he says. Bold overstatement, maybe, but this man who weighs nearly a quarter ton can do the splits, then bend at the waist and shoulders until his forehead touches the ground. He can reel off four consecutive sets of 25 pushups.
And whatever you think of a 400-pound man's decision to run/walk 26.2 miles, you gotta give the guy credit for demonstrating a level of grit and determination that few of us have.