Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fat Man Runs a Marathon

9h 48m 52s - LA Marathon Finishing Time
Kelly Gneiting, pictured above, completed the LA Marathon this past weekend and set what is being called a Guinness Book of World Record for being the Largest Person to ever complete a marathon at 400 pounds.

CLICK HERE to read the entire story. 

His finishing time was Nine hours, 48 minutes, and 52 seconds.  That breaks down to a pace of 22min 28secs per mile.

Not sure how I feel about this story?  My first thought is that I am happy that this man is running, but then I think why the hell is someone this large even attempting to do a marathon?  I mean the chance of hurting himself had to be very high? Why take that risk and put the race organizers and volunteers in harms way? 

Then after seeing what his average pace per mile was (22:28) I think this is not really much of an accomplishment at all? The guys is stubborn, that is for sure, because that is a long time to walk.  But he was out taking a 26.2 mile stroll through the park?  

Then I think how the hell does the Los Angeles Marathon even keep the course open for this long?  The Houston Marathon has a 6hr cut-off time, which to me, is very reasonable.  The RD causes this type of stunt by allowing the course to be open for this long.  Just stupid.

After typing this out my final thoughts are that I am not impressed.  Not impressed at all.  If it takes you almost 10 hours to complete a marathon you should not be out there.  There are shorter distance races that he could have done. Lose some (a lot) weight and then do the marathon.  A marathon is the pinnacle of achievement in the runner's world and in my opinion this guy disrespected that achievement by wobbling along for a little less than an average workday.  Ridiculous.

What do the rest of you think?  Should this man be celebrated for his "accomplishment"?

**EDIT - The course closed 8hrs ofter the start.  That is a 13min/mi pace.  Take back what I said about the RD.   This guy "finished" after the race was shutdown. **

Thanks for Reading,



  1. I like you alot Jeff, I am just going to politely say I disagree with you, its your opinion and I respect it, my opinion is different.

  2. funny you should post this. yesterday, i commented on this exact story on a "running" group on facebook. i might add that most of the runners are, how shall we put it, beginners. Anyway, the person who posted it basically read me the riot act on her reply back. I have to send you some very cool links about this exact subject via email that i think you will totally appreciate. I for one, am not impressed. This guy was just out to set a record in the guinness book. Whateva!

  3. I totally see where you are coming from. I'm pretty torn too.

    On one hand, I applaud any overweight person who decides to get up and do something to improve their health.

    On the other hand, he seems to be completely disregarding the risk of doing a marathon without adequately training your body. And it is almost as if he is celebrating his obesity since there is no indication that he is doing any of this to lose weight and change his body for the better.

    I think in the end, I'm with you on this one. Unless he is on some biggest-loser-style weight loss mission and comes back next year slimmer and trimmer to the marathon, this is a fing disaster.

  4. I think it's great he accomplished 26.2 miles, but I can't say that he actually "ran" it.

  5. As a (very) overweight runner myself, I wonder if people think the same thing when they see me out running. I'm certainly not 400 pounds, but well over 200. I just ran my first 5k distance Monday.

  6. I feel the same as most here. Great that he did it and actually finished, but that's a long time for a marathon. Most marathons in SA have 5 hour cutoffs with some 5:30 and the odd ones with 6 hours. Over here that would not have happened.

  7. I think it was a huge accomplishment for him and for anyone that weighs 400 pounds. If a non-running friend of mine came up to me and told me they walked 26.2 miles today, I would be proud of them no matter what their weight, 26.2 miles is a long distance.

    I'm going to be honest with you, you come across as condescending and a little arrogant in this post. I get what you're saying but that is the vibe I get from this and obviously I also disagree with you.

    1. I agree, Allie. I'd be pretty proud of someone who said they jogged, hiked, or walked 26.2 miles. One of my personal fitness heroes is a 300-pound triathlete who trains, trains, trains, and is still a big fat woman. She doesn't finish first, but she's not last (anymore), now generally finishing in the top 50%.

      23,000 people started the race, only 19,000 finished, and Kelly wasn't the only person to walk a good portion of it. He jogged, at 400 pounds, over 8 miles! Most of my thin mint friends would be hard pressed to jog 8 miles!

      The world would be a better place if we focused on the good things, the accomplishments, the attempts, our fellow beings made instead of constantly saying "Yes, but..."

      Perfection is the enemy of living.

  8. I have been writing on my triathlon blog for 6 years and nobody reads my blog. Now I know why. I don't write my opinion, and the truth is you need to mix it up to keep the blog interesting. It's all about entertaining the people. I happen to agree with you 400lb dudes "running" a marathon, biggest loser people getting a kona spot because they were on TV. etc. Its about the journey, not the destination. The best thing this guy can do is BQ in 4 years. Yes it is possible, but is he just interested in making a mockery of the marathon?

  9. I saw this post on Slowtwitch yesterday and he got flamed pretty bad.

    I'd say "hats off to him" for finishing (nowhere does it say when you enter a marathon, you have to "run" the entire distance).

    that said, I totally agree with you that he is definitely putting his health at risk

  10. Run is a relative term. I will prove that in relation to you at IMTX. Since Arnie is doing the Channel, I am thinking of putting on 250 pounds and breaking this guys time. I will follow it up with an appearance on Biggest Loser.

  11. I am torn here because it is great that he went the distance, but did he 'Train' for it? Did he put in the hours to get to that point? I train couch potatoes to become marathoners and have seen it all but they are putting in the time and energy.

    If all he did was show up and walk it then I am not impressed because race day is the reward where training is where all the hard work is.

    If he put in the hard work with training then I am glad that he went forward and did the distance.

    It says he is a former sumo wrestler and is trying all these other things, but it doesn't say if he is training for them or not.

    I am torn here.

  12. I am torn here because it is great that he went the distance, but did he 'Train' for it? Did he put in the hours to get to that point? I train couch potatoes to become marathoners and have seen it all but they are putting in the time and energy.

    If all he did was show up and walk it then I am not impressed because race day is the reward where training is where all the hard work is.

    If he put in the hard work with training then I am glad that he went forward and did the distance.

    It says he is a former sumo wrestler and is trying all these other things, but it doesn't say if he is training for them or not.

    I am torn here.

  13. I'm sure after five hours the course was closed, support had gone home, and he had to follow the road rules just like you and me. (At least that's what I'm hoping)

  14. dont know how i feel bout this. I support anyone who gets out there and races or works out.

    I however do NOT feel he trained for it or was in the proper health to perform this feat. That being said, I think the guy is an idiot.

  15. I think I need to keep my lips zipped on this one!

  16. Not sure how I feel about this. He set a goal and got it done, so I applaud that since it's more than many people do. I hope it's the start of him getting himself healthy, rather than a record-setting stunt.

    I read the blog title and immediately thought of "Fat man in a little coat" from Tommy Boy. Yes, I am an 8-year-old adult.

  17. The way that I look at it is that is it something different, not really running a marathon as most of us would think of it; but not necessarily a bad thing (without knowing more about training, doctor advice, etc.). I've done many miles of walking in a day before, and got surprisingly sore and tired; so I applaud him for the effort, and I hope he continues to improve his fitness. But I also agree that marathons and similar endurance events should have reasonable cutoffs; to prevent serious injury if nothing else.

  18. Jaime summed up my post nicely above. Exactly how I feel.

    Allie, it took me maybe five minutes to write this post after reading this article. I almost didn't publish it because I didn't want to sound like an elitist douchebag BUT then I googled this story and saw over 600 media outlets had stories about this guys and I said "F it" and hit submit. He won, he got his publicity, he didn't train, he got his record. If this guys was all about losing weight and changing his lifestyle then I would be part of his entourage and even go get the 26.2 tat with him but by all other media accounts this is nothing more to him then getting it a record book. If that makes me arrogant than so be it.

    Ellen - not at all. I was heavy once myself and respect and admire those who strap on the sneakers and pound the pavement to lose weight. That is not this guys goal. His goal was to be in a record book because he is 400lbs. Mission accomplished. He put himself and others at risk for this.

    Richard - This blog will never be accused of being Switzerland (-:

    Matty - yep, training is the hard work, the race is your dessert. He skipped right to the dessert - pun intended.

    Bob - like that idea!

  19. A juicy one Jeff... "Run" sure is a relative term. It took me 8 hrs to finish my first 50K in a miserable storm, about 30 seconds slower than the winner of the 50 MILER. But I trained and plan to keep working on it to get better and do it for the rest of my life. No "stunts" here. For me that is the key. Stunts do not belong on the run course, nor do the people who do them, big, small, slow or fast. I appreciate your honesty.

  20. The LA Marathon per their website, states a cutoff time of 8 hours, strictly enforced. He finished in 9hrs, 48 minutes. Shouldn't that be considered a DNF? Technically, he didn't finish under their guidelines. Yes, he did complete a marathon distance, but given unlimited amount of time, anyone can finish. What is so special about that? That's the thing, marathons have lost their specialness b/c "anyone" can go out an finish one. If this had been an ironman race, would he still be an ironman if he finished after the cutoff? I think not.

  21. I'm torn. I think it's inspiring he set his mind to do a marathon. I can appreciate that he set a goal & had the mental fortitude to achieve it. But I worry it inspires in the wrong way. I read he "trained" for 4 months. Not nearly enough time to healthily train. For those not in the know, who look at him and think, "I should do it too," he does not set the right example.

    For me, a former fat girl, an important point of the training for/competing in these long distances is the journey of healthy living. I've come to appreciate my body so much through endurance training... respecting & nourishing it with healthy food, strenthening it with weights & circuits, giving it rest days, pushing it with intervals. There has to be respect for the body laced in the accomplishment for finishing a marathon.

    He is not doing this. He is abusing his body by keeping his weight at 430lbs. He is abusing his body by making it carry him over 26.2 miles. He claimed he was delirious from mile 10 to the finish. And we're supposed to call him an athlete? Praise him on the accomplishment of dragging his poor body to the finish? I just can't praise that.

  22. Boy, you sure know how to rile the crowd :)

    I pretty much agree with what Jamie and Jason said. If it was purely a stunt then that sort of angers me. However, he did run a marathon in 2008 which was 2 hours slower, so maybe he really is trying to better himself.

    Health wise, I can't imagine that running a marathon at 400lbs is at all good for the body. While I would encourage anyone who is overweight to exercise more and even run to some extent, it seems like there are more/better activities to help lower your weight initially than running long distances.

    In general, I have mixed feelings about time cutoffs. On one hand, I don't like cutoffs because I know everyone has their particular speed and goal and it shouldn't be up to someone else to determine what the cutoff should be. That said, I can't expect a race director to coordinate and fund road closures for basically an entire day. Every race is different but at Honolulu, the roads were CLOSED (no exceptions) until the last person went through. It got to the point that runners were spaced 50-100yds apart and they still wouldn't let traffic through intersections. Ridiculous.

  23. read about this last night.

    yes, I'm late to the party. as usual.

    I just love that you say what you feel - love that. This blog is yours - you write for you.

    That being said I think it's awesome he had the goal. I love goals. I love seeing others strive to reach their goals. Do I think it's worthy of a huge write up online and in papers --- ehhhh. IDK. If it motivates one person to get off their butt - I'd have to say "yes".

    loved this.

  24. Just because we train our asses off for these sports doesn't give us exclusive rights to enter races. I think the only "right" we get out of it is the right to possibly do better than 20 minute miles or whatever that guy did.

    But bigger picture - How is this even news? A big fella did the LA Marathon. So what? Good for him, though I suppose given medical & physiological fact he had a better chance of dropping dead on the course than the 160 pound guy next to him. That said, he has a better chance of dropping dead every second of the day. So this is not remarkable.

    SHOCKED he got lit up on Slowtwitch, that never happens, though is probably voting him a national hero. Spin Spin Spin...

    PS Jeff I like your posts where I can go off and contradict myself. Something fun about it.

  25. I think that anyone who gets out there and does it should be applauded.

    That said, my back hurts just reading the story.

  26. I think it's great he accomplished 26.2 miles. He got out of his house and he moved. Now can we say he RAN a marathon? that he is a marathoner? I say no. but if he can make one person get off their butt and walk that is a good thing. does he deserve media coverage for slow walking? probably not. i agree it does kind of "celebrate" the fact that he is 400 lbs. that is not right.

  27. I think it's great that he finished and am totally in favor of accepting any size and pace person in a race. Getting a world record for being the biggest person to ever cross the finish line - not impressed. Actually kind of sad.

  28. for some reason I feel motivated to wear a thong and wrestle....

  29. So, if the course was closed then he didn't "technically" finish the race, did he? I have little respect for people who do this kind of thing for a "stunt" and publicity.

    Train it and earn it.

    (Says the triathlete who isn't fast, but finished well in advance of the cut-off time!)

  30. My mom, a big girl herself, walked a marathon several years ago. My dad, a very accomplished runner, trained with her. He said it was WAY harder than actually running a marathon. The great thing about marathons, or any running races, is that the every-man gets to do what elite athletes do.

  31. Seeking publicity? Definitely Pounding his body? Absolutely


    How man "fit" people can knock off 4 sets of 25 pushups?
    How many folks can do a full split and put their forehead on the ground?

    He can. [source: LA Times]

    Maybe he's not doing his body any favors, but he still has some degree of fitness most people won't ever see.

  32. valley girl voice



    and totally LOL @ your asessment "the guys is stubborn for sure" hahahaha !!!

    and the chance of hurting himself had to be VERY high!

    not impressed


  33. He's not an endurance athlete, exactly, but sumo is definitely athletic. That said, he had to eat more and intentionally DIDN'T train hard because he wanted to stay above 400 to get the record, and training approporiately (ie running more than once or twice a week) would have caused him to lose weight (or more likely get injured, given the load his body was carrying). Whoop-de-doo. You're in Guiness! But you're still a 400 lb 10 hour marathoner. If that floates his boat, ok, but that 15 minutes is ending right about.... now!

  34. Sorry, floats, not floates. Dur.

  35. I am in a pretty good mood right now, so I will say, "good for him!"

  36. I am with KC on this one. Great that he got out there and tried, but he didn't meet the cut off time, therefore it shouldn't be considered that he finished. If any of us (meaning those of us who train for these events) got hurt during a race, but kept going and walked to the finish, missing the cut off time, we would get a DNF, right?

  37. Food for thought (pun intended)...

    So, you probably run 6:00/mile pace and I'll guess you weigh 160ish? If I handed you 240-lbs (160+240=400), how long do you think it would take you to drag that much weight 26.2 miles? I'm just sayin'...

    Being overweight myself, I'm in a profession (firefighter) that is typically know for men in exceptionable fitness. We have a 180-lb manikin and its a f'ing bitch to drag it more than 40 feet. Plus, I bet several of the guys I work with couldn't/wouldn't walk a marathon on their own.

    On the other side, this guy is NOT a marathoner and he is NOT a runner. He didn't finish in the alloted time and his pace clearly indicates a lack of running.

    I've run four marathons and four ultras, my first Houston marathon was at a 10:19/mile pace, yet I still don't consider myself a "marathoner" because I've never been able to complete a marathon without a couple walk breaks.

    He did something huge. We gotta celebrate the greatness in everything positive.

    My running coach once told me this story:
    The last person to finish her first marathon had a chance to meet the race winner. The exhausted lady asked the winner, "How did you run 26.2 miles in 2:10:00?" The winner of the marathon replied, "How do you keep running for SIX HOURS?"

    (its all relative, right!?!?)

  38. As a seven hour marathoner, I don't think I'm in any position to judge.

  39. Longest. Comment. Ever. Sorry.

    I have a pet peeve/bad habit. When anyone knocks someone's time in a race my hackles kind of come up immediately. I don't even need to know the details (often I don't), for some reason I just get this immediate, visceral reaction that says, HEY. We all can't be freaking fast. I think it is because I am a bit of a wobbler myself.

    OK, the SAG wagon should have picked him up if the course closed at 8 hours. But if the RD chooses not to do that, then fine, the man finished the distance. Good for him.

    I don't think it hurts the sport - it might even inspire overweight and/or inactive people (of which there are too many in our country IMO) to go out there and try running, try to be active - I applaud that. Except I hope they don't all start at the marathon distance.

    I wish he did it TO inspire people to lose weight, I didn't get the feeling he was trying to lose weight or get others to. That bugs me.

    Anyway, looks like you got some juices flowing on that one! :)

  40. First of all, this is obviously a very big personal achievement and he should be congratulated for his dedication (or stubborn-ness).


    at most races, they pick you up after the finish time.
    If you cross that finish line at Ironman at cannot call yourself an Ironman. I do think that no matter the distance or race, even if the RD lets you stay on the course, if you finish after the cut off time, you are not considered a finisher. you did not meet the requirements. black and white.

  41. i only hope that he decides to drop some weight and do some training. not impressed with publicity stunts.

  42. I didn't read any of the other comments. I did hear him interviewed on local radio this week. I can tell you that he had to "run" on the sidewalk at mile 12 since they did breakdown the course based upon the cutoff time.

    Here's what I don't get. If someone doesn't complete the race after the cutoff time, why do they get to claim they completed the race. If you don't make the cutoff, you didn't run the race.

  43. I was in that race and he definitely did it on a closed course. What really annoyed me was the fact that this was the big news coverage despite the hurricane-like conditions and hundreds upon hundreds of runners suffering from hypothermia. The conditions were a blip and this is the most widely distributed story out there. I have mixed feelings because I think it falsely encourages folks who should not be doing marathons to go out and do marathons. Some people die if they try 26.2 in a poor state of health and I don't care if this guy is running or not, at 400 pounds he is not in a good state of health. Marathon has become an everyman sport, which is totally fine, as long as people are training. I had an awful race and was concerned about total system shutdown like kidney failure, but I had trained, I have years of endurance experience and knew how to safely get by and monitor my body. Someone like this is just not prepared. So long comment, but yes, I see your point about the accomplishment of it. On one hand, good for him. On the other, it's not good for the sport.

  44. Just to add to the above: I have NOTHING against people walking a marathon and I believe it's a massive accomplishment. I had to walk all 26.2 miles in my first IM due to severe injury and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I applaud anyone for covering the distance.

    I also have nothing against someone who is overweight taking up the sport and trying to better themselves. What an amazing way to put yourself on the path to better health.

    I just felt this was a publicity stunt and might perpetuate unprepared runners on race courses.

  45. I guess I'm not really sure what the problem is? Is not sport open to everyone who wants to do it? Are we supposed to be of a certain age, body type or training level in order to participate? I imagine this guy, at 400 lbs. has been pretty sedentary and to walk 10 miles, let alone 26.2 is worthy of my praise. I will also add that walking may not be as aerobically challenging as running, but I know for a fact that after walking 10 miles you will feel it big time even if you are a runner; try it.

    I agree that saying he "ran" the marathon would be grossly overstating things. But who made us judge and jury for those who choose to participate in sport in whatever manner they are capable of at that point in time. Those who live in glass house....and all that.

  46. Just came upon your blog and read this post. I don't think it should be celebrated and for a slight second feel bad about saying that...but then I realize how serious I am taking my journey to running my first marathon and doing my first tri this year. Its not in the same ballpark...I agree..yes he IS stubborn and maybe that is what he can be rewarded for!

  47. Without reading the "whys" behind this man's chose to complete a marathon distance I hesitate to comment on how I "feel" about him doing it. I realize that people have been using physical feats to garner attention since the dawn of time. If his movation was to raise awareness of some cause and he adhered to medical advise while completing his journey then good for him. If however his sole motivation was the records books, I hope that he at least cautioned others with the risks involved in such an attempt given his physical condition.
    I do admire anyone who sets a goal and achieves it. However sometime people forget that the message others get from their efforts is not always the one intended.

    Thanks for stopping by my journey of running through life. I am certain we can learn quite a bit from one another. Keep the thought provoking posts coming!

  48. hello buddy i read your comment i agry with you dear thanx for this information.

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  49. so what i get drunk so what i smoke weed.

    my girlfriend is fat. i am going to run a marathon with no training.
    am i an idiot? maybe.
    but i am still better then most of the people on here who probably have not ran a marithon and never will.

    and when i am done with my 42 kilometers i will light up a cigarette just to see all the week lungs around me cough.

  50. one more as i feel i am on a roll.

    how many of these people have actually ran a marathon. you look at most the comments and they down the guy yet i have yet to meet another human in my life who has walked 42 constant kilometers let alone run them.