There’s absolutely no question that smoking is extremely bad for your health – not to mention your running performance.
But despite this common health advice, one Chinese runner, who goes by the name of ‘Uncle Chen’, has run the Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, China, while chain-smoking a packet of cigarettes.
Perhaps surprisingly, he managed to nevertheless cross the finish line in a very respectable time, clocking 3:28, to place 574th out of more than 1,500 runners.
Photos of the 50-year-old have gone viral on Chinese social media app, Weibo, where race organisers shared his race certificate and confirmed his finishing time.
Local media have reportedly said that Chen in fact only smokes when he runs - and that he’s been seen doing so at multiple marathons before. No one has yet explained why he does it.
According to Canadian Running Magazine, he ran the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon while smoking, which he finished in 3:36 and also sparked up during the 2019 Xiamen Marathon, which he ran in finished in an even quicker 3:32.
He first became known within the running community for his running and smoking habit in 2017, after he was seen smoking at a running event in Hangzhou city, which gained him the name ‘Smoking Brother’.
Reactions to Chen’s smoking habit have been mixed, with some social media users commenting that it is inconsiderate to fellow runners and others questioning whether it’s a doping violation.
While there are currently no rules prohibiting marathon runners from smoking, it’s something we would never recommend, since smoking increases your risk of a range of serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
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