Sumo wrestler Kelly Gneiting participates in the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon in March 2011.  The Fort Defiance, Ariz. resident weighs more than 400 pounds
Sumo wrestler Kelly Gneiting participates in the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon in March 2011. The Fort Defiance, Ariz. resident weighs more than 400 pounds and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the heaviest person to complete a marathon. He plans to participate in the Shiprock Marathon later this month. (Courtesy of Kelly Gneiting)
SHIPROCK — The Shiprock Marathon is going to have a "big" guest this year.

U.S. sumo wresting champion Kelly Gneiting plans to complete the May 4 marathon.

Gneiting, who weighs 410 pounds and stands at 6-feet tall, already holds the Guinness World Records title for being the heaviest person to complete a marathon. He earned the distinction after finishing the Los Angeles Marathon in March 2011. He was 10 pounds lighter at the time. He also completed the same marathon in 2008.

Gneiting is now looking forward to completing his third marathon in a place that he has grown to appreciate over the past five years, the Navajo Nation.

"I think this land is special land. I think the people are special people," Gneiting said.

Gneiting, who is originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho, lives in Fort Defiance, Ariz., where he works as a statistician at the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital.

Every day, he trains by walking or jogging about five miles between his work shifts. In fact, he first started thinking of doing a marathon when he started taking walking breaks as a truck driver, his former career.

"I remember the moment, I was fueling up the truck and I thought, "Why are you being wishy washy about this?' I thought, "Why don't you just do it, Kelly?'" Gneiting said.

Still, he has gotten flack for his weight at past events.

A lot of participants look down on him for his weight, he said, even though he stays away from junk food and soda and exercises daily.

Gneiting said that he gained much of his weight to compete in sumo wrestling. He has been the U.S. sumo wresting champion for the past three years.

The weight, he said, has not been an issue during his races. Granted, he has not spoken with physicians about his participation in marathons and whether or not he could be hurting his body.

"My feet warm up to the point where they feel like they are on fire. All that weight pushing down, it adds up, but I know my body," he said.

Gneiting finished his first marathon in about 12 hours. His second took about 10 hours. This time, he hopes to finish in less time, though he's not concerned about how much less time.

"Even if I improve by a minute, I will be happy," he said.

The Shiprock Marathon may prove more difficult because the course ranges from 4,800 to 6,070 feet above sea level. Gneiting's previous two marathons were at sea level.

During a marathon, Gneiting listens to country music and Christian rock, as well as one of his favorite bands, Queen. He usually jogs a little less than half the course and then walks the remainder.

"At 400 pounds, he is in tiptop shape," said Andrew Freund, director of USA Sumo Source, in a phone interview Thursday.

Freund, a friend of Gneiting's for several years, said that Gneiting is one of the most humble and sincere men he ever has known. He said he never doubted that Gneiting could accomplish what he put his mind to.

Gneiting is already looking to the future. He plans to swim the English Channel on July 13 and hopes to acquire a new Guinness World Records title.

"When he says he is going to do it, he is going to do it," Freund said.

Jenny Kane can be contacted at jkane@daily-times.com; 505-564-4636. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane.