Chinese runner, 50, does 42km marathon under 3 hrs 30 mins chain smoking pack of cigarettes

Apparently he only smokes while running.

Andrew Koay | November 18, 2022, 02:01 PM

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A man in China has caught the attention of the running world by completing a marathon in under three-and-a-half hours, all while chain smoking.

Photos of the 50-year-old runner made their way onto Weibo and showed him lighting up a cigarette mid-stride, before puffing away while completing the 42.195km Xin’anjiang Marathon on Nov. 6.

Uncle Chen lits up mid-stride Image from Weibo

According to his finishing certificate, which was also posted to Weibo by the marathon organisers, the man — known as Uncle Chen — finished with a timing of 03:28:45, coming in 574th out of nearly 1,500 runners.

His 2022 Xin’anjiang Marathon performance would've seen Chen run at a pace of 4:56mins per kilometre.

A "good" marathon time

To put Chen's feat in perspective, a "good" marathon time for men was listed as 03:34:56 by Running Level — which derived this number by calculating average marathon finishing times across men of all ages.

Focusing more closely on Chen's peers, Running Level wrote that the average time for an advanced runner (a racer faster than 80 per cent of runners) at the age of 50 was 03:31:30.

Only smokes while running

It isn't the first time that Chen has garnered attention for his nicotine-related habits.

Canadian Running Magazine reported that he'd been seen lighting up during the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon and the 2019 Xiamen Marathon; he clocked times of 3:36 and 3:32 respectively at those races.

In fact, according to Runners World, local media in China have reported that Chen only ever smokes while running.

The 50-year-old also appears to be an ultramarathon with online records purportedly showing that Chen had run two such races in 2019 — one that was 50km and the other lasting for 12 hours.

Imagine what he could achieve if he kicked the habit of smoking, which has been proven to negatively affect athletic performance.

Top image from Weibo