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“Uncle Chen”, the Chinese marathon runner who runs while smoking

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“Uncle Chen”, the Chinese marathon runner who runs while smoking

He is nicknamed “uncle Chen” and is known for a rather unusual feat: participating in the marathon smoking all the way, finishing the races with a competitive time. The last one, the Xin’anjiang marathon in Jiande on November 6, he finished it in 3 hours and 28 minutes, finishing 574th in a competition which saw nearly 1,500 entrants.

It goes without saying that the story of the smoking runner, Chen Bang-Xian, 50, originally from Guangzhou, quickly went viral all over the world: the group that organized the marathon shared his times and an image of the certificate he received for finishing the race. And the photos of him, running around and lighting up one cigarette after another, were shared on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform.

Among the users there are those who have complimented him on his breath holding, but there have also been criticisms. Indeed, “Uncle Chen” was accused of harming other competitors with secondhand smoke. But event organizers have confirmed that smoking while competing is not against the rules.

For Chen, the Xin’anjiang marathon in Jiande was the third feat: also in 2018, during the Guangzhou marathon, he finished the race with a time of 3 hours 36 minutes and several cigarettes left along the way. In 2019, between a puff of oxygen and a puff of tobacco, she finished the Xiamen marathon in 3 hours 32 minutes. Chen, therefore, not only smokes while running, but gets faster every time.

Chen is also an ultramarathon runner and reportedly ran 50 km in 12 hours. The theory of the smoker runner – the Chinese media report – is that smoking is good for you. No one recommends following his example, but it doesn’t matter to him: he will continue on his way, crossing finish line after finish line.

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