The "Fat Man" Running In The Los Angeles Marathon

By Marcus Vanderberg 

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If you’ve thought about running in a marathon and figured that extra weight might work against you, think again.

Sumo wrestler Kelly Gneiting, 40, is running the Los Angeles Marathon this weekend.

His weight? A trim 405 pounds.

The Los Angeles Times profiled the three-time national champion sumo wrestler, who hopes to set a Guinness record by being the heaviest person to cross a marathon finish line. It took him just under 12 hours to lumber his way through the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon.

“He also has another goal, too: the Guinness Book of World Records, something he hadn’t known about in 2008. Guinness will ask him to step on a scale just before the race, to provide photographic evidence of his journey and proof from race officials that he finished. Fulfill these requirements and Guinness will make him a record-holder: Heaviest runner to finish a marathon.

“I’ll have something very few thin people out there can say about themselves,” Gneiting says. “I’ll have made a little history.”

On the recent nighttime run, though, he doesn’t inspire much confidence at first.

Every step is a shuffle, every breath a bellowing wheeze.

But then, in the middle of the pitch-dark desert, as the hill steepens and the temperature drops, he keeps going, big neck bent, big body leaning forward, one foot in front of the other.

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God,” he says, muttering a favorite Bible phrase as he nears the crest. “I take that to mean, don’t quit. Ever.”

He has pushed for over an hour, but he makes it to the hilltop without a break. He promptly turns around. An hour more, 3 miles more, and he is at the bottom of the hill.

“If I can do this, I can do Los Angeles,” the Fat Man gasps. “I’m going to finish that race, and better than before, you’ll see.””