A 50-year-old man in Jian, China, is making international headlines after finishing a 42-kilometer (approximately 26-mile) marathon in 3.5 hours while smoking cigarettes.
The runner, who goes by the moniker “Uncle Chen,” ended the Nov. 6 Xin’anjiang Marathon in three hours, 28 minutes and 45 seconds. He ranked 574th out of nearly 1,500 runners.
The ultramarathoner beat his own records in the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon and 2019 Xiamen Marathon, during which he also smoked packs of cigarettes. He finished the former in three hours and 36 minutes and the latter in three hours and 32 minutes, as per Canadian Running.
Reports have noted that Uncle Chen is not a regular smoker. Instead, he only allegedly lights cigarettes when he runs.
As an ultramarathoner, Uncle Chen has run distances of at least 50 kilometers (approximately 31 miles). He reportedly ran for 12 hours in one event.
Nicotine, the stimulant present in tobacco, is believed to be the catalyst in Uncle Chen’s performance. Social media users had mixed reactions to his strategy, with some praising his performance and others criticizing his smoking.
“Really smoked his competition,” one Instagram user wrote.
Another commented, “His lungs were literally screaming help.”
“Does this count as a doping violation?” a Weibo user asked.
Another noted, “Whoever is next to him is just unfortunate.”
Images via Weibo