I never thought I would talk about marathons and cigarettes in the same article, but sometimes (more and more often, actually) reality surpasses imagination.
It happened that in China a 50-year-old man ran the entire Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, smoking cigarette after cigarette. This is the news, and we might as well stop here.
Now you could think many things. Like “What a fool,” or “Why?” Whatever one may think of it, the fact is that this man, known as “Uncle Chen,” ran a marathon while smoking 30 cigarettes and still completing it in a very decent time: 3 1/2 hours.
Not very fast, but still remarkable, considering the circumstances. Finishing such a challenging race by smoking continuously is something extraordinary. That inevitably is the news.
This is not the first time Uncle Chen has done this: this was actually his third marathon and he had smoked in the previous ones as well. The theory tha he often repeats is that smoking is good for him. It is not supported by any medical evidence (indeed) but he does not care.
It seems impossible that he can pull it off, but he can: perhaps there are bodies that can better withstand the stress that such an activity entails, and he must have it.
Or-and this is my theory-Uncle Chen has a characteristic that we love: he is obviously a punk, maybe in disguise, but he is a punk. And we love punks.
An example to (not) follow
Of course, we will never advise you to run while smoking, although at most you will annoy other runners and harm yourself.
However, Chen also sets a positive example: being punk is a way of life, and no one can deny you that.
I realize that doing what he did doesn’t automatically classify him among punks: Chen doesn’t have an original, colorful haircut, he doesn’t run with a studded jacket, and he doesn’t have anything of the punk aesthetic, but the beauty of this philosophy is that it is a way of life, a vision. And evidently he has it, so much so that he takes the punk concept of aversion to common sense rules to extremes.
There are other details that make him a unique runner: Chen has also completed several ultramarathons and most importantly-ironic detail-he is not habitually a smoker. So he only does it while running. Unbelievable.
Finally, there is another curious detail. Many people wonder how it is permissible for a competitor to run in an official race while smoking. The answer is simple: there is no rule against it other than common sense.