My kind of athletes

sumo wrestler-kelly

Kelly Gneiting

I love to read about the achievements of those whose bodies and lifestyles are at odds with the “perfect” ones promoted by the Righteous. Admittedly, it can take a bit longer to run a marathon when you weigh 400 pounds: that’s 28 stone 8lbs.

Three times US Sumo champion, Kelly Gneiting, became the heaviest person ever to cross the finishing line of a marathon. He came last in last month’s Los Angeles Marathon, completing the 26 miles and 385 yards in nine hours, 48 minutes, and 52 seconds.

The 400-pound American jogged the first eight miles of the race and walked the last 18, often stopping at intersections and stoplights because he was well behind the 13-minute-per-mile pace set by race organizers. He says he became delirious after mile 10 and only realized he hit the 15-mile mark when a friend gave him a clean pair of socks.

“I was really struggling in the last five miles,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “but I said to myself, ‘If I have to crawl, I will.'”

When he finally finished, he had set the weight world record and a personal best by over two hours. “I’d like to see the Kenyan improve his marathon time by two hours,” he joked.

Gneiting weighed 200 pounds in college but says he packed on the weight after getting married. He became a sumo wrestler 11 years ago and won his first national title four years later. Despite his weight, Gneiting says he’s still fit and wants to prove it by competing in other competitions. Next up? Swimming the English Channel.

I realise this is the wrong attitude, but I like sports where the most important part of the training regime is eating. Lots. Even I manage to jog to the fridge every so often.

The oldest man on record to have completed a marathon is Dimitrion Yordanidis, who was aged 98. He ran the original marathon course from Marathon to Athens on October 10, 1976 in 7 hrs 33 mins.

Buster Martin, who became a bit of a celebrity, first when fighting off a gang who attacked him, then as “Britain’s Oldest Employee,” finished the London Marathon in 2008, aged 101, or so he claimed, but William Hill’s refused to pay out on the bets that were placed on him, as he couldn’t produce his birth certificate (although many other documents were handed over). The money would have gone to charity.

Legal action is being considered after bookmakers William Hill failed to hand over £13,300 in alleged winnings following the marathon-running efforts of super-fit pensioner Buster Martin.

Mr Mullins said two £100 bets were laid – that Buster would finish the race in under 12 hours (at odds of 100-1) and that he would finish before midnight (33-1). Buster crossed the finishing line in ten hours exactly.

However William Hill media relations director Graham Sharpe said the bets related to Buster’s supposed age – 101 – and included a £101 stake, with odds of 100-1 that Buster would finish the race in under 12 hours.

Mr Sharpe added: “He was put up to us as the oldest man to ever complete the London Marathon and he’s not even that unless he can prove he is 98. The whole point of the bet was that he was 101 and no-one has proved the point that he is.”

I just found out this morning that Buster Martin passed away six days ago. We have lost a great character. He seemed to be remarkably fit – physically and mentally. I saw him being interviewed and he thought that keeping on working was very important lest he become like other old folk.

…the dispute over his age overshadowed what was by any standards a remarkable achievement, given his claim that he owed his longevity to a combination of drinking, smoking and “good red meat”. “I’ve been smoking since I was seven,” he said. “When I get to the line, if there isn’t a pint of beer there waiting for me I’ll want to know why. I’m not worried about the fags because I’ll carry them with me. Everyone says smoking kills but it’s taking a long time in my case. ”

Well, apparently he was “living life to the full” right up to the end.

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5 Responses to My kind of athletes

  1. English Viking says:

    The amount of pies, fags and beer I’ve had, I should make at least 150. ;-)

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    I presume the Nordic diet is healthier, English?

  3. English Viking says:

    They like fish and all kinds of sea-food. They also have a thing about cooking – a bit like the French. They are very good at it. Eating is still a very social affair, with family meals and conversation a treasured thing.

    I’ve never met a vegetarian Scandinavian. They love meat. Elk, seal, deer, whale. If it moves, they’ll kill it and eat it. BTW both seal and whale taste great. Whale in particular tastes just like juicy beef steak.

    I think the food is a LOT healthier than the UK stuff. It is very easy to buy fresh meat (from the man that slaughtered it). Fish is the same. Just go down to the harbour around 8.00 am and buy it off the guy that caught it.

    Norway was, until the discovery of oil in the ’50’s, a farming country. Loads of them where I live, literally hundreds, so fresh meat is no problem. Potatoes are plentiful too, but a lot of other veg has to be imported because the climate is too cold to grow a lot of stuff.

    Potet Bål is the local delicacy, traditionally eaten on Thursdays. It’s a kind of potato ball, with meat in the middle. Served with sausage and bacon, with melted butter and syrup. Sounds gross, and looks it, too. But it tastes amazing.

    Det smaker kjempegodt, as they say around here.

  4. Stewart Cowan says:

    Sounds great. I want to visit – not that I’m asking you to put me up for a week or three. I love almost all food apart from butter – would I cause offence by having Potet Bål with syrup only?

  5. English Viking says:


    I usually raise a few eyebrows by smearing tomato ketchup all over mine, but there is no offense.

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