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Marlboro Man

Chinese ultra-marathon anti-hero “Uncle Chen” runs 3:28 marathon while chain-smoking more butts than John Daly

November 16, 2022

When it comes to long-distance running, performance-enhancing substances are expressly banned. Hormones, steroids, anabolics, diuretics, stimulants. You’ll find all those on a list of prohibited drugs at most long-distance races across the globe. The bylaws say nothing about performance inhibiting substances, however, which is good news for 50-year-old Chinese ultra-marathoner “Uncle Chen,” who posted a time of 3:28 in last week’s Xin’anjiang Marathon while chain-smoking cigarettes like your great aunt at a slot machine.

Chen’s time was good enough for 574th overall out of 1,500 entrants. You might think that there’s a statute of limitations on such a strategy. One day the bill will come due, right? Wrong. Chen, who allegedly only smokes when he runs, is only getting faster. At the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon, he posted a time of 3:36. At the 2019 Xiamen Marathon, he clocked a 3:32. This may sound like a tall tale to you, but we couldn’t make it up if we tried.

Fellow runners are reportedly unhappy with Chen’s little habit, which you can understand, but if they don’t like breathing his fumes all race, there’s a simple solution:

Be faster.

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