420 Games bring new meaning to runner’s high

There is a tired cliché about pot smokers being slack-eyed, Dorito-devouring couch potatoes, but try telling that to four-time NBA champion and outspoken cannabis advocate John Salley.

Or Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time. Or the UFC’s fearsome Diaz brothers. Or Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, one of the first elite athletes to be forced out of the closet after nearly losing his gold medal from the 1998 Nagano Olympics when minutes traces of THC were found in his system.

The list of athletes who combine weed with workouts goes on and on and will only get longer as the stigma surrounding its use disappears.

Jocks of all shapes and sizes – professional and amateur alike – will once again be lining up at the starting line for a variety of 4.2-mile runs held across the western United States that are now in their fourth season after being launched by founder Jim McAlpine in 2014.

“Hollywood has kind of done us a disservice because they’ve made us look like stupid, lazy stoners,” says McAlpine, who also operates a gym called Power Plant Fitness with former NFL running back Ricky Williams. “With the Internet and the ability to really get out there and find what you want is disspelling all the myths and we are know able to say ‘hey, that’s not true.’ It helps me stay focused, it keeps me in the gym longer, and I use it for health and medical reasons, not just to get stoned.”

The 420 Games motto is “everything in moderation except sweat,” and organizers try to incorporate a series of steep hills into the course. International competitive runs are also typically 5K – which works out to 3.1 miles – so runners will literally be going the extra mile to help debunk stereotypes that fitness and the 420-friendly lifestyle aren’t a good fit. Participants are encouraged not to openly smoke at venues out of respect to the host cities.

“The idea is to demonstrate that cannabis is really a wellness product,” says ArcView Group president Steve DeAngelo. “When it is integrated into a full and healthy lifestyle, it actually enhances the parts of our lives that are the most valuable and important to us. The idea that cannabis is not compatible or consistent with a lifestyle of success is just a myth.”

Upcoming 420 Games in 2017 are set for:

  • Los Angeles – April 1
  • Seattle – May 28
  • Portland – June 10
  • Denver – July 22
  • Boulder – July 23
  • San Francisco – August 26
  • Phoenix – September TBA
  • Las Vegas – November TBA

Visit 420games.org to register or for more information.