Athleticism offers both physical and mental health benefits. The physical benefits include losing weight, becoming fitter, and eating better.
Your heart beats more efficiently and in time you manage to achieve a reduction in basal heart rate that translates into less work done more efficiently by the heart. In a nutshell, with all the above benefits you will lead a longer and healthier life.
On the mental front, you become more energetic, you start looking better (that may take a while) and, most importantly, you get your stress reduced.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California recently discovered that the same bodily process which helps fuel the body efficiently may also have a role in improving memory and learning.
A runner’s body is not usually as perfect as depicted by the media and not every runner possesses a physique that includes perky bottoms and six-packs. Why? Because running doesn’t sculpt and tone muscles like people think.
Researchers suggest elite distance runners share three inborn, physiological traits that separate them from fitness and recreational runners:
- A high VO2 MAX capability.
- Great efficiency of movement.
- The ability to run long distances at their anaerobic threshold.
Larger people are less efficient at delivering oxygen throughout the body. Losing weight doesn’t change your lung capacity or function, but it does mean that each breath doesn’t have to go as far.
Leaner athletes can dissipate heat better, too, because they have a higher surface-area-to-body-weight ratio and less insulating fat tissue. They also burn carbohydrates more efficiently. So while weight isn’t everything, it’s certainly one thing.
Regardless of this, however, a lot of athletes with heavy body build have had successful and lengthy careers. Here is a list of the heaviest track runners of all time.
1. Charles Bungert (USA)
Charles Bungert is regarded as one of the heaviest persons to ever complete a marathon race. He weighs 193.96 kg (427 lb 9 oz) and he achieved this while running the LA Marathon in Los Angeles, California, USA, on 17 March 2013.
Bungert finished the race with a time of 8:23:40. He says the idea started as a dare from friends but became a serious endeavor when his mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He went on to use the race to raise money for his mom’s treatment.
2. Lawrence Brignolia
Lawrence Joseph “Larry” Brignolia, sometimes Brignoli, (15 April 1876 – 13 February 1958) was an American long-distance runner and sculler of Italian descent.
He won the 1899 Boston Marathon. A 161-pound blacksmith, he is the heaviest person ever to claim victory in the event.
He is also the only person to have finished all of the first three Boston Marathons, and one of two runners (the other being Dick Grant) who participated in all of the first four marathons.
3. Chris Solinsky
Chris Solinsky (born December 5, 1984) is a retired American distance runner and college cross country coach from the United States. Solinsky is the current assistant coach of the University of Florida’s cross country team.
Among his many accomplishments, he won eight high school state titles and five NCAA Division I championships at the University of Wisconsin. With a run of 26:59.60, he set the American 10,000-meter record and was the first non-African to break the 27-minute barrier in the 10,000 m.
This milestone is held remarkable due to Solinsky’s weight of 160 pounds which is very heavy for runners in this category.
4. Jennifer Smith
At 346 pounds which she weighed in before the race, Smith’s final time was 11:50:36. With her increase in physical activity during her training, Smith dropped almost 40 pounds.
When she crossed the line, not only did she complete her first marathon, but she also unofficially became the heaviest woman ever to finish 26.2.
Though the record is not official until it is verified by Guinness, Smith gathered all of the required evidence—videos, witness statements, start and end weights, and race director’s contact info—and is preparing to send it in for verification.
5. Kelly Gneiting
Kelly Gneiting is regarded as one of the heaviest persons to finish a marathon ever. The 400-pound, 6-foot tall, sumo wrestler set the Guinness world record for being the heaviest person to finish a marathon, according to the LA Times. Gneiting is also a 3-time U.S. national champion sumo wrestler.
His time was 9 hours, 48 minutes, and 52 seconds, according to the LA Times. He destroyed the old record of 275 pounds and beat his own unofficial personal best of 11 hours, 52 minutes, and 11 seconds according to Fox Sports.
Gneiting never doubted his ability to finish. “I honestly think I’m one of the best athletes in the world,” he told the LA Times before the race.
6. Ragen Chastain
Ragen is a trained researcher, three-time National Champion dancer, and marathoner who writes and speaks full-time about self-esteem, body image, and health.
At a little over 288 pounds, she officially became the heaviest woman to complete a marathon and she hopes the title will serve as an example to the plus-size community that there is no such thing as a limitation.
7. Salah Hissou
Salaheddine Hissou is a Moroccan long-distance runner who was born on January 16, 1972. He won the gold medal in the 5000m at the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.
In 1996, he established a world record of over 10,000 meters in Brussels with a time of 26:38.08 and earned a bronze medal in the same event at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Hissou was born in the Kasba Tadla village of Ait Taghia. For a sprinter, Salah sits among the heaviest runners of all time with a weight of 136.6 pounds.
8. Mark Bett Kipkinyor
Mark Bett (born 22 December 1976) is a Kenyan long-distance runner who specializes in 3000 and 5000 meters.
At over 141.10 pounds and with a height of 5′ 10, his time over 5000 m of 12:58.72 minutes in 2001, achieved in Zürich, was the third-best time in the world that season, only behind Richard Limo and Hailu Mekonnen.