Sumo Wrestler Sets “Heaviest” Marathon Record

He wasn't the fastest, but Kelly Gneiting can say he set a world record at the LA Marathon

Sumo wrestler Kelly Gneiting completed the L.A. Marathon in 9:48:42 to set a new Guinness World Record for the "heaviest person to complete a marathon"

Gneiting, 40, of Fort Defiance, Ariz., weighed in at Dodger Stadium before the race at exactly 400 pounds and took off with the main field at 7:43 a.m. in cool, but dry conditions, crossing the start line several minutes later at the back of the 23,542-runner pack, according to race officials.

Rain began falling soon after he started, and he moved through the Stadium to the Sea course in increasingly rainy and extremely windy conditions.

He said that he lost track of where he was after mile 10 and, slightly delirious, only figured out that he'd made it to mile 15 when his friend and fellow sumo wrestler, Americus Abesamis, met him with fresh socks and told him how far he had come.

At that point, he said, "I was ecstatic."

He walked the final 18-plus miles of the race after jogging through the first eight miles.

Because his pace was much slower than the 13-minutes-per-mile pace used to calculate street re-openings, he did the last half of the race on the sidewalk, while also obeying all traffic signals.

"The people of Los Angeles are amazing," he said. "There was lots of honking and yelling, 'Go, you're almost there,' by both marathoners and spectators. I was really struggling in the last five miles, but I said to myself, 'if I have to crawl, I will.'" 

Gneiting finished at 5:51 p.m. in a driving rain and high winds. His post-race weigh-in showed him -- without shirt or shoes -- at 396.2 pounds, well ahead of the old Guinness-recognized record of 275 pounds.

He was met by about 20 well-wishers and news media who braved the conditions to see him finish.

Noting that he cut more than two hours off his 2008 L.A. Marathon time of 11:52:11, he joked, "I'd like to see a Kenyan improve his marathon time by two hours."

Gneiting has represented the United States for the last seven years at the World Sumo Championships or World Games.

Gneiting completed the 2008 marathon in 11 hours, 52 minutes, 11 seconds, but was not credited with the record because he did not follow the Guinness requirements that he be weighed immediately before and after the race, and that the entire race be filmed.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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