It is well known that smoking cigarettes hinders running performance, but on Nov. 6, one runner at the Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, China, might think differently. A runner who goes by the nickname ‘Uncle Chen‘ made headlines after he ran a marathon in three hours and 28 minutes while chain-smoking a pack of cigarettes.
Last week, the photos of Chen smoking went viral on the popular Chinese social media app Weibo, then the marathon organizers celebrated his achievement by sharing his finishing certificate. Chen finished 574th overall in 3:28:45 out of nearly 1,500 runners.
This was not the first time the 50-year-old runner from Guangzhou was photographed smoking during a marathon— photos of Chen lighting it up surfaced from the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon and the 2019 Xiamen Marathon. In 2018, he clocked in at 3:36, and ran 3:32 in 2019. One anecdotal report notes that Chen apparently only smokes when he runs.
Chen also happens to be an ultramarathoner, who has run distances from 50 km to 12 hours.
Although Chen was not shooting for a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon while chain-smoking, there isn’t any previous record in place.
Many on Weibo shared their frustration that Chen was allowed to smoke during the race. “This type of behaviour should be banned from the race,” one commented. “I feel bad for the runners around him,” said another.
Technically, there are no rules prohibiting runners from smoking since most have the common sense it will not help their performance.