Kelly Gneiting, a 405-pound man, recently finished the LA Marathon in just under 10 hours. (This was his second marathon. The video above is a documentary about his first.) He got a lot of press, because he’s been certified as the heaviest person to finish a marathon, ever.
I am personally thrilled. I added Mr. Gneiting to my defiant athlete list a few days ago. He rocks.
But one thing, as I’ve been reading about his marathon, that I’ve found interesting is how many marathon runners are not only not supportive of Gneiting, but down-right pissed off. Lots of talk about how angry it makes them when someone says they ‘ran’ a marathon, when their pace was more of a jog or walk. Lots of real offense that Gneiting has the gall to call himself an athlete.
One woman said that at his size, she doubted it was safe for him to move. Period.
Lots of jokes about Southern California earthquakes, etc.
Also tons of support, and usually the anger is followed by many people calling it on the carpet. Most of the support, however, is in the form of “at least he’s trying.” As if his trying is somehow worth less than a thin person’s.
But it’s the anger that caught my attention.
As if the marathon runners are protecting their space. Maybe being a marathon runner is what makes them feel special, and they don’t like the idea that just anyone could do it? That’s what it comes across as to me, anyway. These people clearly assume that Gneiting has not worked as hard as them, because he’s still fat.
There are also some fat people who seem to take Gneiting’s finishing of the LA Marathon like a personal assault. Some of them say that even they could walk 26.2 miles at less than 3 mph–that it’s no big feat and Gneiting is no big inspiration. Some seem genuinely upset that he hasn’t lost weight, insisting that this means he hasn’t trained hard enough. What’s this about? Maybe Gneiting butted up against the idea that exercise doesn’t have to be about weight loss a little too hard for them? Or maybe it’s just scary to see someone who looks like you, or even bigger than you, doing something you have so thoroughly convinced yourself is impossible.
What do you think?