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Chain-Smoking Marathon Runner

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

A Chinese grandfather ran a marathon in under three and a half hours despite chain-smoking for the entire duration of the race.

Man lighting a cigarette

Currently, there are no rules prohibiting runners from smoking. In China, that is. So, what's the best way to go about trying to achieve your personal best in a marathon?

Well, if you're a 50-year-old runner known as “Uncle Chen”, you carry a pack of cigarettes. Remarkably, he completed the full 26-mile Xin’Anjiang Marathon in Jiande, in China’s southwestern Zhejiang province, last week in a time of 3 hours, 28 minutes and 45 seconds.

A photograph of his certificate that was shared widely on social media in China showed he finished 574th out of around 1,500 runners.

Pictures showed Uncle Chen at full tilt with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, slowing only to light a fresh one.

It was not the first time Uncle Chen had been seen smoking during a long-distance race. He was first spotted smoking while running in the 2017 Hangzhou Marathon, where he was given the nickname “Smoking Bro” by other competitors.

According to Chinese media, he even smoked during the 2021 Lhasa Marathon, which begins at an altitude of more than 17,000 feet above sea level - high enough to cause altitude sickness.


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