Runner’s High

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You don’t need bourbon to experience the euphoria

By Stevie Lowery

I made an observation while working traffic control during The Bourbon Chase Friday night and watching thousands of runners jog to and through Marion County Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday morning.


Well, actually, I made several observations.

One, I’m not a very good traffic controller. But, the flashing light stick I got to use was pretty nifty. It would have definitely made my 5-year-old jealous. In fact, he would have been better at traffic control than me, but I digress.

The more significant observation I made was this: runners are, for the most part, happy, fun and polite people.

Why is that?

Well, I like to consider myself an avid runner, and I have a theory.

It’s because we’re all high.

No, we’re not high from using illegal drugs.

Rather, we all have experienced the “runner’s high.”

The runner’s high is why thousands of people chose to spend their weekend running a 200-mile trek through our historic bourbon distilleries while the rest of us watched from inside the comforts of our own homes or vehicles. Moreover, it’s why many of them chose to run unfamiliar, country back roads in the dark of night with only their headlamps and the full moon to guide them.

The runner’s high. It’s real people.

And you don’t need bourbon or illegal drugs to experience it. Just a good pair of running shoes.

Don’t believe me? Ask any runner. They will tell you.

And scientists have proven it to be true.

According to an article published in The New York Times, researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report that running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect. The researchers’ experiments and data showed that endorphins were produced during running and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions. So, the fact that I feel more relaxed and at ease after a run is not my imagination. That might also explain why I feel anxious and irritable if I’m not able to run. Do I have an addiction to running? Perhaps. But, at least I’m addicted to the runner’s high and not something that could be harmful to my health.

Am I right? I think so.

During my brief stint as a traffic controller Friday evening, I met people from all over the country (and Canada) who traveled to Kentucky to run The Bourbon Chase. For some of them, it was their first year. For others, it was their third. And, no matter how tired, sweaty or hungry they were, they were all friendly, courteous and grateful. In fact, several runners went out of their way to thank me for volunteering during the race. And while I was envious that they were running and I was waving around a light stick, I was just happy to be a part of the event. I am chomping at the bit to participate in The Bourbon Chase next year, but I’ve been told that it falls on the same weekend as Marion County Country Ham Days. (Bummer for me.) According to my sources, the organizers of The Bourbon Chase schedule the race around the schedule of the full moon.

So, let’s recap.

The Bourbon Chase... plus Ham Days... plus a full moon... those combined could make for an explosive experiment!

I hope the runners like country ham with their bourbon!

Editor’s note: To find out more about The Bourbon Chase, go to www.bourbonchase.com.