Man achieves sub-3:30 marathon time while puffing through a whole pack of cigarettes

Man stubbing out cigarette in ash tray
(Image credit: Getty)

A Chinese runner has completed a marathon in a very respectable sub-3:30 time while chain-smoking an entire pack of cigarettes. 

Smoking is unquestionably bad for your cardiovascular health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it causes the cells lining your blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed, narrowing them, making them less flexible, and increasing blood pressure. It can also cause respiratory disease, and is the leading cause of lung cancer.

None of that is favorable for running, but it doesn't seem to have deterred 50-year-old 'Uncle Chen' (also known as 'Smoking Brother'), who set a very respectable time of 3:28 in the Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, China.

According to Runner's World, his time has been verified by race organizers, who published photos of him running with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

Chen is getting faster

Local media has reported that Chen only smokes when he runs, but haven't explained why. He has, however, been recorded puffing away at several other races, including the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon, which he finished in 3:36, and the 2019 Xiamen Marathon, where he set a time of 3:32.

There are no official rules against smoking during most races, unless the route passes through an area where there are fire restrictions in place, or private land where the owner has chosen to institute a ban. However, it's arguably inconsiderate to fellow runners, and generally a bad choice for your health.

If you're aiming to set a better marathon time, rather than lighting up, we recommend sticking to a smart training routine. Our guides how to run a sub-four hour marathon and how to run a sub-three hour marathon are packed with expert advice to help you achieve a new personal record.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.