published Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Sumo wrestler completes marathon

LOS ANGELES — After slowly but steadily working his way through a 26.2-mile course drenched by driving rain, mammoth distance runner Kelly Gneiting finished Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon in nine hours, 48 minutes and 52 seconds, probably establishing a Guinness world record for someone his size.

"I did it, but it was hell," Gneiting, 40, said, shortly after crossing the finish line in Santa Monica. "Pure hell." Featured in a Los Angeles Times profile last week, Gneiting is a former national champion sumo wrestler with a 60-inch waist who weighed in just before the race at 400 pounds.

Gneiting completed the marathon by jogging and walking and said there were several times when he feared he wouldn't finish, particularly when his rain-soaked feet developed terrible blisters.

"My feet were on fire," he said. "Twice, blisters popped and just about brought me to my knees.... But I kept going."

Despite his slow pace, Gneiting accomplished his two main goals. He improved his time from the only other race he entered, the 2008 L.A. Marathon, which he completed in 11 hours, 48 minutes and 16 seconds.

He also appears to have set a Guinness world record for heaviest person to complete a marathon. Guinness representatives must review Gneiting's results before certifying the record.

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