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Chain-smoking ‘uncle’ lights up the competition at yet another marathon — impressing keyboard runners on social media everywhere

A seasoned marathon runner in China has done it again. He finished yet another marathon in impressive time, with a cigarette dangling from his lips all the while.

On November 6, the 50-year-old runner, known only as Uncle Chen, completed the Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, a region in eastern China. During and after the 26.2-mile race, several images of Uncle Chen appeared on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, and each image showed Chen either smoking away on a cigarette or lighting up a new one.

Marathon administrators eventually released official times from the race, and Uncle Chen clocked in at a respectable three hours, 28 minutes, and 45 seconds, good enough for 574th place out of 1,500. According to Grayson Weir of sports outlet OutKick, Chen’s time is at least an hour faster than the average 50-year-old male marathoner, who usually finishes a race in about four hours and 34 minutes — “without ripping a full pack of lung darts on the route,” Weir noted.

Though some have criticized Uncle Chen for exposing himself and others to dangerous carcinogens, Uncle Chen appears to know what he’s doing. This is Chen’s third marathon since 2018, and he has improved his time with every race. In 2018, he finished in three hours and 36 minutes, and a year later, he finished in three hours and 32 minutes. Now, in 2022, he shaved yet another four minutes off his time, which regular runners know is no small feat.

People around the world have taken to social media to express their appreciation for Uncle Chen’s unorthodox methods:

“Could this man be the world’s fastest chain smoker?” tweeted Metro UK.

A Chinese marathon runner named ‘Uncle Chen‘ has shocked the running world after being seen chain-smoking during his races,” wrote Breitbart.

ETimes Lifestyle noted that “this is not [Chen’s] first time! He in an ultra-marathon runner with years of experience in running 50km marathons.”

ETimes Lifestyle is correct. Uncle Chen is not only a marathoner, he’s an ultra-marathoner, meaning he regularly runs distances of 30 miles or more. However, Weir reported that Chen is not actually a chain smoker. He’s not even a regular smoker. Chen smokes only when he runs, perhaps, Weir speculated, because the nicotine in cigarettes can act as as stimulant.

Aside from his running and smoking habits, not much is known about Uncle Chen, though the New York Post reported that “Uncle” Chen is actually a grandfather — and that still images of Chen running and smoking remind writer Ben Cost of “a health-conscious Edward R. Murrow.”