Monday, June 24, 2013

Run For Your Lives!

This past Saturday, my wife, father-in-law and I participated in Run For Your Lives!  The touring 5K race features an obstacle course and zombies.  What better way to race than that?

The objective isn't to finish with a great time; in fact, I don't think there is an official time.  Instead, you run with a group of racers that start every 15 or 30 minutes.  You carry 3 flags that are attached to a belt with Velcro, similar (or perhaps identical) to flag football. If the zombies take all of your flags, you finish the race "infected" and receive a medal indicating that status.  If you finish the race with at least one flag still attached, you are a survivor and receive a medal indicating that status.  One of the people running the event said that before our shift, the survival rate was about 15%.

The event took place at Boondocks Farms in Knightstown, Indiana - not far from our home city of Indianapolis.  It was an extremely well organized event - including everything from parking to registration to makeup, etc. They even made sure that zombies were kept well hydrated, and they also provided crackerjacks for us (which was good because we wanted a quick snack without eating a full meal).

The three of us worked the third and final shift of the day as zombies.  We thought it would be a cool theme if we dressed like business people - like we were in the office during an outbreak.

'Till Death Do Us Part... Or Beyond!

(In Bess' words: these zombies mean business.)

Look out!  I'm loose!

One of my eight victims.

We worked in the first zone, so runners encountered us soon after starting the race.  It would be their first zombie encounter, and I don't think they had any idea what to expect.  Some zombies are stumblers while others are chasers.  We signed up as chasers, which meant we could run.  Even if the runners knew some zombies could run, they didn't know which of us could until we took off after them.  A decent strategy was to act like a stumbler and then run.

Since our zone was the first one, we would see a burst of runners followed by a long wait.  To pass the time, I would stay in character, stumbling around the field and posing for pictures.  The surprising aspect to me was how many people wanted their pictures with my father-in-law and me.  It could be that we would often walk around in character and groan at people.  Then, once one person saw we would pose, more would approach us for photos.  I love to do group shots and pose on demand; "Act like you're biting me," "Act like we're making a business deal," "Act like you're trying to take my beer."  It was a lot of fun.

Having just seen World War Z, I liked to chomp my teeth every so often.  And rather than groaning, I would do a raspy yell, kind of a "mad dog" noise.  I think it was somewhat intimidating; people tended to yell or scream in response.

I'm not in very good shape, so I had concerns about trying to keep up the pace for a three-hour shift, but given the small bursts of action in our zone, that wasn't a concern.  Other zombies in our zone were even sitting down at times while we waited for the next group.  Other zones had more continuous action due to the fact that runners would inevitably spread out as the race went on, either due to different paces or the obstacles (some of which could only be done with a few people at a time).

We weren't without casualties, even as undead as we were.  My wife twisted her ankle on one of the last waves to come through.  She's doing better today, but she sat for a while after our shift with ice wrapped around her ankle.  Apparently, she was not the first to visit First Aid for such a condition.  She runs regularly, but doing sudden sprints and changing directions on an uneven field can cause problems for anyone.

I highly recommend this 5K race.  To see this particular race from a runner's point of view, check out this video (this was not taken during our shift).   Come as an observer, runner, zombie, or all of the above (there were people who ran it early in the day and then became zombies later in the day).  I can't say enough good things about this event, so if there's one near you, check it out!

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