Luke Simon Drake had never done psychedelic drugs in his life — and then a friend at work said it was on his bucket list. Drake’s own bucket list included running an ultramarathon. Soon enough, the two ideas merged in his mind, and he couldn’t get them out, he tells MEL.
After ordering the LSD from a reputable vendor and testing it to make sure it was actually LSD, he and his friend Max took a trial dose of 250 micrograms — three times the recommended beginner’s dose.
What was it like? “Nothing I had ever done in life could’ve ever gotten me ready to face the terror of feeling like I’d be floating up into the sky if the music that was playing would suddenly stop. Feeling like I was standing up when I was lying down felt like stepping into a surreal painting, and trying to get up and walk when you’re melting into the ground is nigh on impossible,” he tells MEL. “Running an ultramarathon on LSD at this point seemed as likely as me flying to the moon.”
But he was determined. “Articles on ‘long slow distance training’ were all that popped up when I typed in ‘LSD + running’ on Google,” he explains. “But the scientific (and non-scientific) literature regarding mixing psychedelic drugs with long-distance running was lacking, to say the least. I, Lucas Simon Drake, am no scientist, nor am I a great athlete — but it seemed that I had a golden opportunity to become a unique kind of athletic researcher.
“I was gonna be the first (at least to my knowledge) person to run a 50-mile ultramarathon on LSD.”
And that’s where we pick up Drake’s story.
With 150 micrograms of LSD down the hatch, he stood at the starting line of a midnight 10-kilometer trial run.
I remember thinking disclaimers like the one on MTV’s Jackass were stupid and unnecessary: Who in their right mind would ever think about recreating the dangerous, sometimes disgusting stunts that were performed in the show?
Yet here I am with a disclaimer of my own. If not for my sake, then it’s for your own safety: Do not think about recreating what I did. It’s stupid, potentially dangerous and most likely illegal where you live. Any knowledge that’ll be gained from this article should be shoved somewhere dark after you’re done reading. I’ve also written a book about this experience, titled Runner’s High, or Can LSD Make You Gay? How I Ran an Ultramarathon Tripping on a Psychedelic Drug: The Easy Guide to Doing What You Should Not.
‘Some Kind of Divine Energy Pushing Me On’
I stood at the starting line of the Midnight Run, an annual nighttime 10k race. The dose this time around was lower, 150 micrograms instead of 250 micrograms (as I had taken the last time), but still more than enough to turn anyone’s world upside-down.
It was hard to distinguish if it was a race or a rave. David Guetta’s voice made its way into my ears as the stadium and race track were filled with strobes and bright lights in all colors. A crowd of perhaps 100 would start their 10-kilometer-long nightly run together with me, and many of them were dancing to the music. I didn’t notice when my legs began to move with the rhythm, but soon I was dancing too. It was impossible not to. I felt electric. Even before the race started, I was soaked.
I passed the sign that said I had run two kilometers and felt like a superhero. I was running fast, as if there was some kind of divine energy pushing me on from behind.
“Go, go, go,” someone behind the tape on the sidewalk said to me. Kids were holding out their hands so I could give them five as I ran by them. Even though it was past 12, people were out on the streets cheering as I made my way across the city. No one was there to cheer for me specifically, but somehow it did feel that everyone had come to see me, and not any of the other 5,000 people out in the night running.
At first the track along the streets had been very crowded, and I had a hard time running without crashing into people. But after running through a big park a mile into the race, the crowd was getting thinner.
I was running considerably faster than most other runners, and for everyone I passed, another jolt of energy rushed through me. I am the Flash! I thought, wondering if this could be considered doping. Was LSD on the list of banned substances by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency? Probably not. For every hundred yards I ran, I felt more and more as if the LSD had turned me into a superhero. A great feeling.
But something was missing.
The cascade of visual oddities had stopped. No longer were things twisting and turning in front of me, and as I looked down on my hands, they looked… normal. The patterns that I had seen before were nowhere to be seen. All that I could focus on was what was ahead. But withholding hallucinations in order to feel invincible was a small price to pay.
Into the Storm
I flew past sign after sign marking another kilometer run, passing people left and right as I ran across parts of the city I hadn’t seen at nighttime since I was single. Then suddenly, I saw a flash of lightning. The thunder that followed seconds later revealed it had been no hallucination. Then I hit the wall — a wall of rain.
“Damn it,” a woman cursed out behind me. She was not the only one to give out a bothersome cry. I had been soaked from sweat during the entire race, but now it looked like I had been locked inside a car wash for half an hour. The sky sounded like the stomach of a man who had gotten a bad dish the night before, and every 10 seconds I could see a lightning strike connect the ground and the sky.
I had felt like a superhero earlier, but that was nothing compared to what I was feeling now.
This was it, the showdown. I was Rocky Balboa about to enter the ring with Ivan Drago. The thunder struck louder. The rain fell harder. The climax was getting near.
I heard music. It had to fight the thunder to be heard, but the farther I ran, the louder it got. And the longer I ran, the brighter and more colorful the cloudy sky turned. I could see the arena. I quickened my pace, and less than a minute later I was on the home stretch. Bathed by the rain, the music and the light in its million colors I ran toward the finish line.
I orgasmed. It wasn’t the kind of orgasm that stains your underpants, but an orgasm born out of pure euphoria. One that paints your heart in the colors of the rainbow and turns your brain into a bubble that pops and explodes throughout the cosmos. The second I passed the finish line it felt as if I had just bowled a strike as I was knighted by the Queen of England while winning the lottery on my birthday.
I looked at the large clock in the arena. If my calculations were correct, I had finished in 48 minutes. Not too bad. Especially considering my condition.
“Congratulations!” a young girl said as she walked up to me with a medal. I crouched down and she hung it around my neck, then another kid handed me a banana, a Snickers bar and an energy drink.
“Thank you so much!” I answered. I really meant it. I felt like the two kids were here just to say congratulations to me. Everyone else was just part of the show. The girl lacked both of her upper front teeth, and the boy looked like the kid from Home Alone before adulthood gave him a makeover. The kids were as soaked as I was, and I couldn’t remember ever seeing children as cute as they were. A feeling of warmth radiated from my heart, and I knew just what to do when I got home to my girlfriend Mary.
We were going to make a baby.
One can only wonder if there’s something in the typical ultramarathoner’s diet that causes men’s beards to grow in an uncontrolled manner. I seemed to be the only person with a Y-chromosome in a 10-mile radius without one. Maybe ultrarunners are all hippies. Still, the biggest hippie around was me, because in my pocket I had a small plastic bag with 200 micrograms of pure love and spiritual awakening in paper form.
At the starting line, a cloud of vapor lit up by more than a hundred headlamps could be seen hanging in the air above shivering entrants, all excited to run the 50-mile ultra that was ahead. It was as dark as it was cold.
I had told myself not to take the two tabs of LSD before the sun was up, not only so that I could see better, but also to make sure I wanted to go through with it.
After running through a beautiful forest filled to the brim with lakes, I was almost considering not taking the LSD. The day could be a spiritual experience on its own.
I didn’t need drugs to enjoy my day, but they sure would enhance it. I picked up the little plastic bag from my pocket and took out the two tabs of LSD. 200 micrograms, just shy of what I had taken during my first trip. That had been enough to take my mind to Disneyland.
Ninety minutes later, I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong. What if, after all this time, all this training and all this preparation, my experiment would crash and burn? I had already run 15 miles; no way was I gonna run the following 35 sober!
Two other runners passed me by as I slowed down. One of them was a girl whom I in time would fall in love with. We were going downhill, and all of us had to be careful to keep our balance, but that was not why I was slowing down. I had to do so because I was crying, thinking about the poor souls who had perished in the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.
I wondered if the other two were as heartbroken as I was. They probably weren’t, because they were (presumably) not coming up on 200 micrograms of LSD.
‘The Energizer Bunny Was Using My Heart as Its Drum’
In most races, walking is seen as a sign of weakness or exhaustion, but in any ultra, you are bound to see people choosing to slow down every now and then, especially when there’s a hill coming up. Keeping your heart rate down can be a vital strategy for simply finishing a race as long as 50 miles. And it was when I walked up one very steep hill going through a clear-cut area of the woods that I saw her.
Her blond ponytail was swinging back and forth like a pendulum held by a hypnotist. Had someone whispered commands in my ear right then and there I might have fallen into trance. But something else drew my gaze, farther down. Her black tights really lived up to their name, and her butt looked like it had been sculpted by an Italian renaissance artist.
I blushed and removed my gaze as if she could notice me checking her out from behind. Yet could I ignore the truth when I was looking right at its butt? My girlfriend, Mary, was a wonderful woman, but she wasn’t running with me today. This girl was. In my mind I could see how our future together would turn out. We would go on adventures, train for races. We’d marry, and on our honeymoon we would run a 100-mile race on the most beautiful island there ever was. We would have babies, and they’d be runners too.
Tears once again ran down my cheeks. How would I tell Mary, my wonderful Mary, that we couldn’t be together anymore?
The farther up the hill I walked, the closer to the woman of my dreams I got, and it wasn’t until long that my legs had gotten me right next to her. It was now or never.
Just like when I had run my 10k Midnight Run, the hallucinations were weak, but there was no doubt I was running on a psychedelic drug. Not only was my mind all over the place, it also felt like the Energizer Bunny was using my heart as its drum.
‘I Could Not Move My Gaze From His Butt’
The halfway point meant that I had run farther than I had ever run before, and it also meant lunch break. But since I couldn’t feel taste, I spat out whatever food I tried.
As my heart rate slowed down, the hallucinations turned stronger, and the forest that surrounded me and the other runners started looking to move as if they were dancing to a children’s song.
I checked my distance: 30 miles and a half. Not that it mattered how far I had run — all I could think about for the moment was what was in front of me. I was experiencing strong tunnel vision and could focus only on the trail, and the runner in front.
Déjà vu, I thought whilst staring intently at his behind. What was happening now was just what had happened earlier when I had followed the girl with the ponytail. I could not move my gaze from his butt. The cheeks were like two bowling balls of pure muscle, sculpted by Michelangelo himself. They were firm, yet bouncy.
Oh my god… How will I tell Mary? I asked myself. She’s gonna be so upset! But then again, she would eventually move on and find someone who would be smitten by her butt, which was a really nice one.
But this man in front of me didn’t only have a nice ass — his legs were perfectly structured, and his calf muscles were like a pair of rock-hard diamonds propelling him forward. His wide shoulders gave his upper body a perfect V-taper. He was fast, and he looked strong. Mary wouldn’t hold a candle to this guy in a fight, that I was sure of.
It had taken me over two and a half decades of denial, a race twice as long as a regular marathon and 200 micrograms of LSD to realize what was now obvious.
I was gay.
‘It Was… It Was Something.’
“I can’t believe you just ran for a whole day!” Mary said to me once we were in the car. “Now you can brag about having run not just one marathon, but two!” The race really needed to be a bit more than two miles longer to be twice as long as a marathon, but it sounded better with what Mary just had said. “So! Was it… fun?” she asked.
“It was… it was something.” It had been a long day, and much had happened. I had cried because of the 2004 tsunami, I had fallen in love… with both a woman and a man. I had run 50 miles in 10 hours and 21 minutes, possibly becoming the first person ever to run an ultramarathon tripping on LSD.
“Yeah. I had fun,” I replied. On the other side of the road I saw a light approaching us. It was a runner heading toward the goal.
“I still really can’t see why anyone would do it though.” To see what running an ultramarathon on LSD is like of course! “Like, look at that guy there on the road!” she said, pointing at the runner with the light. Up close, I realized I had seen him before.
It was an injured, old man I had passed earlier. Why it was that he still pressed on I didn’t know. Obviously he wanted to make it to the finish line, but… why? Why had he decided to wake up early, head out here and go on a run that many would say is way too far for a man of his age?
Obviously, he had been running faster than I had until I caught up to him, despite being perhaps twice my age or more. I was impressed by myself, but this old coot was something else.
“Why does anyone do anything?” I asked Mary.
— As told to Quinn Myers