One weekend in early fall of 2009, I was in attendance at a local race that always brings in good numbers. The race featured some local "stars" as well as a horde of your typical fun-run crowd. My old bloodhound sat laxly at my feet as I stood near the line. I wasn't there to race, but rather, I was scanning the finish line for notable fat runners - fellow corpulent cruisers like myself.
The winner predictably passed in the high 14s, and those poor emaciated-looking souls followed within a minute or so of his time. Obviously, these are the least remarkable people to watch. I said a silent prayer for these sorry fools and looked on.
Starting in the low 16s, I observed a noticeable surge of "huskier" runners finish. Now, you couldn't properly classify them as "fat," but some of them truly pushed the "fat" end of the "skinny-fat" spectrum. I made several double takes Still, not good enough.
I checked my watch at about 17:29 and was ready to leave the course, unsatisfied as I have been in the past so many times. It seemed that, yet again, there would be no truly fat person to run below eighteen minutes (the universally accepted benchmark to be impressed by a fat man's 5K performance). As I began to walk away, stopwatch and scale in hand, my old bloodhound began barking frantically. I turned around, and that's when I saw him.
A puffy oval figure was in view, charging towards us. I adjusted my bifocals to get a clearer image. It was a slovenly looking fellow, sporting a baggy pair of red Walmart-bought basketball shorts and a completely soaked Judas Priest t-shirt of the highest quality of cotton I had ever seen. He puffed his cheeks with an exaggerated exhale in sync with the impact of each heel-striking over-stride, gasping for his breath mid-stride. His fists were clenched tightly; his arms made perfect 90-degree angles to his torso with every stride. But most importantly, my spot estimate of his size came out to about five foot eleven in height with a waist circumference of approximately 44 inches. An absolutely gorgeous specimen. Indeed, this man... was "fat."
I looked down at my stopwatch again - 17:41. I flicked my gaze back up to the runner and gave a full-diaphragm bellow: "RUUUUUUUUUUN!!!" The lumbering fellow's eyes glanced over at me with a smidgeon of fear, but he kept his head focused on the line and maintained his steadfast concentration. He increased his striding/puffing tempo and charged harder. "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! FINIIIIIIIIIIISH!!!" I cried in hysteria. As his foot touched down onto the timing pad, he snapped his head down with a mighty crack of his double chin meeting his chest. I hit the button of the stopwatch and looked down at the LCD screen. My jaw dropped - 17:58.95.
My gaping mouth quickly transformed into an open-mouth grin and I quickly waddled over to the side of the wheezing behemoth, bent over with his hands on his knees. "My friend!" I exclaimed. "I must weigh you!"
He turned his head up, still bent over. "What?"
"I must weigh you!" I repeated.
Before he had a chance to respond, I laid my scale on the ground and guided him on, balancing him carefully so as not to tarnish the measurement. The scale thought for a few moments before revealing its answer - 218.7.
"YES!" I let out. "YES! Congratulations, my good man! You, sir, are fat!"
"Uh... do I win something?" he asked, as he slumped off my scale.
I was already recording his time and weight in my notebook.
"You are the fattest sub-18 runner I have ever witnessed!" I replied, beaming.
"Huh... cool... I guess," he lulled on.
I put away my notebook, picked my scale, and shook the man's hand. "Congratulations again, sir!"
I turned to my tired old dog. "Come on, Webb. Let's go home." He opened his mouth to let his tongue flop out and gave a slow but happy pant. The two of us strolled away, proud of a good day's work.