As the London marathon gets underway, there are going to be lots of people getting high- 37,500 according to one recent BBC article. However, this is a different “high” than those individuals who partook, or attempted to, in massive marijuana festivities of April 20th, such as the 2011 University of Colorado demonstration to legalize marijuana that was 10,000 people strong.

The “high” marathoners will experience is well known- a release of chemicals called endocannabinoids. An article in the April 14th issue of The Economist reviews research from the Journal of Experimental Biology that suggests human bodies have evolved to reward cardiovascular activity by releasing these chemical and thus generating a “runner’s high.”

The study investigated the endocannabinoid levels of humans, dogs, and ferrets after some treadmill work and discovered that humans and dogs experience a “runners high” whereas ferrets do not. “Dr. Raichlen [author of the report] argues that it makes sense for ferrets not to have systems that reward cardiovascular activity, since such exercise consumes a lot of energy, may cause injury, and is not crucial to the stealthy hunting technique of sneaking down burrows and killing rabbits in their sleep” (The Economist, 2012).

For humans in the past, running was vital for survival when we needed to escape predators or chase down game. Now running takes on more of a hobby role, a means to stay fit, and we get high. So, for all those participating in the London Marathon- Happy 4/22nd!


BBC News, 2012. ‘London Marathon: Thousands takepart in 32nd Race.’ BBC News,22 April. Available at:

The Economist, 2012. ‘Fun Run.’ The Economist, 14 April. Available at:

Rahman, R., 2012. ‘CUBoulder 4/20 Celebrations Limited By Foul Smelling Fish Fertilizer; Other Colorado Marijuana Smokeouts Continue Unfazed.’ Huffington Post, 20 April. Available at: