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One 12 months later: the phenomenon of Uncle Chen and his chain-smoking marathon

It’s been a 12 months since Canadian Working broke the story of Uncle Chen, who ran a 3:28 marathon whereas chain-smoking cigarettes. To have a good time the anniversary, right here’s some behind-the-scenes info on how the story took place, the aftermath, and the place Uncle Chen is now.

Uncle Chen
Photograph: Weibo

The way it took place

Often, come November to January within the working season, occasions and races in North America have slowed down, and as a author, I’m all the time on the lookout for the following large story to entertain our readers. I noticed that China had a couple of marathons in early November, so I made a decision to seek for the phrase “marathon” in simplified Chinese language on the favored social media app Weibo.

Inside seconds, I noticed a submit of a person lighting a cigarette in the course of the Xin’anjiang Marathon, gathering lots of of feedback and shares. On the time I assumed it was humorous, however I had no concept what would come of it. I had the identical response as you (most likely) once you first learn the story. The idea of a runner smoking cigarettes throughout a marathon and working effectively is hilarious and unimaginable. I needed to examine.

I found it wasn’t the primary time Uncle Chen had been lighting it up mid-marathon. I spent the day translating paperwork and outcomes from simplified Chinese language to English and located his title, earlier photographs and bodily outcomes of him smoking throughout races previous to the 2022 marathon. That’s after I knew we had one thing particular on our fingers.

The aftermath

When the story was revealed on Nov. 14, 2022, it started to make its rounds on Fb and Twitter and inside a day or two it was on each information website you might consider: Enterprise Insider, Golf Digest, Barstool Sports activities, New York Publish, International Information and extra. I had a number of information businesses contacting me to talk to Uncle Chen, who appeared to be bothered by the recognition his stunt bought in North America.

I reached out to Chen and his niece. Chen didn’t reply, and his niece despatched us a message by way of translation that it was frowned upon to have this reputation in international media–that it was seen in China as setting a foul instance.

Inside two weeks of the story being launched, the Chinese language Athletic Affiliation (C.A.A) issued a proposal recommending that each one Chinese language marathons ban smoking. The proposal was put in place to advertise wholesome participation and to cease individuals from smoking at road-running occasions. The C.A.A. wrote that those that fail to adjust to the competitors guidelines ought to be disqualified.

The place is Uncle Chen now?

Uncle Chen has been flying below the radar since breaking the Web final 12 months, however to our data, he’s nonetheless very concerned in his native working scene. Chen serves because the co-founder of the Zhejiang Xianju Street Working Affiliation and the Zhejiang Provincial Marathon in his hometown of Taizhou Metropolis. Based on Chinese language media Nandu, Chen nonetheless likes to smoke and run, however it’s his private selection to take action.

Native media reportedly tried to contact Uncle Chen a number of occasions, however he has declined to talk about smoking or his marathons, hopes his fame will fade over time and didn’t need to delay issues by talking about his accomplishment.

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