No athlete in the world matters anymore other than “Uncle Chen,” a mysterious marathon enigma who smokes while running. Chen has garnered a following on Chinese social media site Weibo, with various photos of him lighting up and running making the rounds on the site.
Uncle Chen finished the Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, China with a time of 3 hrs 28 mins, all while chain smoking an entire damn packet of cigarettes according to local reports. This is nothing new for him either, and lighting up before running is a part of his athletic routine.
Make no mistake: This is, for lack of a better term, coo coo bananas. It’s the equivalent of playing on hard more. It’s like adding skulls for a round of Halo. Smoking and marathoning just don’t mix — let alone at the same time.
You see these old photos of Ken Stabler lighting up in the locker room or Joe Burrow burning a celebratory cigar, but that’s a far cry from smoking while actually doing the damn sport you’re competing in. Nevertheless, Uncle Chen is now a folk hero for bucking the trend of all basic sporting decency and burning one while running. Look at that dude behind him in the photo. Not only does he have to deal with the indignity of losing to a 50-year-old man smoking non stop, but you know that’s whafting in his face all race long.
In case you wonder “how the hell does he light up mid-race?” the answer is: Pretty much like any other smoker.
Chen it purported to be an ultra-distance runner, with Running Magazine finding statistical evidence of his races. So, when he’s not burning one while running a cool 26.2 miles, he’s presumably smoking it up while running much, much further.
I’m not saying this is a laudable trait, or something anyone should follow — because while Chen might have the heart of a man half his age, he probably has the lungs of a 150-year-old. Still, it’s kinda neat to see someone competing at an extremely high level and giving precisely zero shits about convention.
Live you best life Uncle Chen, keep those feet pounding the tar, and those lungs inhaling it.