"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. The Fat Man is a three-time national champion sumo wrestler. Now he has willed himself into something far more unlikely: He has become a long-distance runner. On Sunday, at the 26th Los Angeles Marathon, he wants to set a Guinness world record. Of the roughly 25,000 entrants, most of them honed into taut and sinewy shape, he hopes to be the heaviest to cross the finish line. By far. If he does, he says he will be sending a message to a society obsessed with being thin. "Big people," he says, "can do the unimaginable." When he talks, and he so loves to talk, Gneiting has a habit of marking the milestones in his life by weight. "In high school, I was 190 pounds, so I know what it is to be thin," he says, eating a late lunch at a Denny's a few hours before his evening run. Oblivious to patrons craning their necks to look at him, he orders a mushroom cheeseburger with what appears to be half a pound of beef, thick-cut French fries, a fried chicken sandwich, and a second helping of thick cut fries.He has a sense of humor, too. In 2008, Fat Man -- who's married and has five children -- finished the 26.2 mile race in about 12 hours, but at that time he was unaware of the Guinness Book of World Records. For his potential record-setting feat, which he plans to finish in less than nine hours, 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. After achieving that goal, he has his eyes set on other challenges: Fat Man says he would like to swim the English Channel, because he floats like a cork; He would like to play in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, and recently sent a resume in hopes of a tryout. He hasn't heard back, however.
Update: Out of 18,937 runners, Kelly came in 18,816 with a time of 9:48:52. Congrats!