Aarian Marshall is a transportation reporter at WIRED and former CityLab contributor. She lives in San Francisco.
Because stoners like to jog, too.
The 420 Games—a competition of athletic skill and bravery formerly confined to the crunchy San Francisco set—is making a bid for world domination this year, or at least domination of the weed-lovers of the American West. The 4.20-mile running competition is expanding in 2016 to Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Boulder, LA Weekly reports. The new competitions will include a running race, plus mountain bike and stand-up paddleboard competitions.
“When someone uses cannabis, the outside world looks at them as stupid, lazy stoners,” the race organizer Jim McAlpine told Runner’s World in August 2015, after the second annual competition in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. “We are using our athleticism to change the way people think.” Athleticism, indeed: out of about 500 participants, the man who won that race in a truly-none-too-shabby 15:57 was under the influence of marijuana. He, along with the first-place female finisher, won a $500 gift card to a weed delivery service.
About 50 percent of race participants have partaken in the green stuff pre-competition, McAlpine has said, but the race organizer always urges entrants to follow local laws and avoid smoking at the start line. The 420 Games is also officially pro-regulation and anti-underage use of cannabis.
The best part of the athletic competition is, perhaps, its consummate un-coolness. Just like the half-marathon your college roommate completed last year, 420 Games participants get a t-shirt (forest green, of course), a race bib (though each one says “420”), and a post-run beer tasting and concert.
Marijuana is now completely legalized in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state. It’s decriminalized to some degree in 15 states, and even more cities. In 2014, President Barack Obama told the New Yorker of pot: “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Marijuana is winning races all over the U.S.