Chinese marathon runner disqualified for chain-smoking throughout entire race

A 52-year-old Chinese man, who chain-smoked his entire way through a 42.195km race, has been disqualified despite achieving a competitive time.

Uncle Chen, nicknamed the 'Smoking Brother', completed the Xiamen Marathon 2024, held on January 7, in three hours and 33 minutes.

Now, Chen has been reported to the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) and been issued a a two-year ban from the Xiamen Marathon's organising committee.

The organising committee's statement also said it verified Chen's smoking based on "race supervision, referee reports, timing chip data, race videos, pictures and other materials". 

Smoking is listed as one of the "punishable uncivil behaviours" on the Xiamen Marathon website.

The CAA implemented the proposal last year in an effort to promote healthy participation and curb smoking during road-running events. 

This is not the first time Uncle Chen's unconventional habits have drawn attention.

Runners take part in the Xiamen Marathon
Runners take part in the Xiamen Marathon Photo credit: Getty Images

Photos of Chen circulated online in 2018 of him smoking during the Guangzhou Marathon.

According to Canadian Running, Chen serves as the co-founder of the Zhejiang Xianju Road Running Association and the Zhejiang Provincial Marathon in his hometown of Taizhou City.

Reactions to Chen's smoking habit have been mixed, with some social media users labelling him a "legend".

Others have been less impressed, suggesting his habit is inconsiderate to fellow runners and it could be a form of doping.