I figure if you can survive a zombie apocalypse you can surely survive your first half marathon. So, last weekend we did just that, a Zombie Apocalypse 5k. It started because I was looking for a good birthday present for my dear friend who tends to enjoy experiences over material things, so jump to my logic: why wouldn’t a Walking Dead fan enjoy running from real life zombies?
I got the old crew together and was super nervous as we rolled up to the race and saw bored “zombies” standing around checking their phones and eating popsicles they just bought from the Ice Cream Truck at the local park. There was no direction as to where “the living” should check in for the race and the actual “Start” And “Finish” balloons were just being blown up as we arrived. This was super poor production compared to some of the other obstacle races we’d done and I started sweating balls thinking about how I dragged everyone out here and ruined my friends birthday- her actual 37th birthday! We decided to head back to the car since we had so much time before the race and start drinking some of the wine we brought, we were going to need to be lubed up since this was starting to look so lame. Finally as it was time to take our place at the starting line while many of the zombies milled about practicing their slow dead walks and taking pics with runners. We spoke to a fellow runner who verified he had done several races with this same company and they all were pretty disorganized but, fun! So, we went for it.
About a mile into running along a dirt path next to a beautiful lake we noticed a hold up. Was the trail super narrow? Was there an obstacle to do? Had someone been injured? The answer to all of these burning questions was soon right in front of our faces in the form of a giant 200 plus pound zombie blocking nearly the whole trail. People scrambled to climb into the thorny bushes above or risk falling down the cliff into the lake below, meanwhile the living-dead guy was swiping flags left and right. (When we started we were given three flags per person, if the zombies collect all three of your flags before the finish line you were deemed “infected”).
I got hit right away by this behemoth and boom, just like that I was down one of three flags. We made it past and just as we took a minute to reunite and catch our breathes we hear death metal behind us and catch sight of a zombie running full sprint down the path. We dart off into the weeds and hide letting him pass. It’s a tough game of running slow enough so as to not catch up with the zombie ahead but also avoid the one coming up in the rear.
At one point we found a little boy about 7 or 8 years old crying on the side of the trail hugging his knee, we mom’s of course stopped and I said,
“Ohhhh honey, are you okay? Where’s your mo—– oh fuuuuuuck there’s another zombie coming!!!!!”
My friend grabs my arm and shouts, “He’s not bleeding- he’s fine!!! Let’s get the fuck out of here!!!!”
Sorry kid, in the apocalypse only the strong survive. Byyyyyyyyeeeeee!!!!!
Finally we break out of the wilderness path and are corralled through a course in the open park. Caution tape lines our route in between trees and picnic tables and unsuspecting park goers out for their Sunday dog walks. From what we can tell, zombies are either runners, grabbers, or just sort of staggerers, but there are essentially no less than 4 per tight ass corral that you have to dodge like an NFL running back while protecting your precious flags.
We had no weapons, just our wits. (Weapons weren’t actually allowed as the zombies were simply volunteer actors). But the sweat running down our backs and copious pee dribbling down our legs was very real. We were terrified, like in that fun way when you willingly go on a very old wooden roller-coaster. Many of the “zombies” seemed to be taking their roles pretty seriously, one in particular made the most terrifying sound with his mouth effectively freezing our friend in right in her tracks. Another locked eyes with me and my remaining flags, and literally chased me for what felt like a half a mile. Dead bastard.
In the end, only two of our four had just one flag left. But we soon realized that the only reason we had them was thanks to cheating. One teammate had tucked her final flag in her shirt so the undead couldn’t seek her out and my remaining flag was actually one my teammate had found on the ground and handed me early on in the race. I cheated and I didn’t even remember! We were just trying to fucking survive!!!! Granted I think if weapons had been allowed all four of us would’ve been just fine, arrested for assault maybe, but fine. Instead, we drank more rosé and headed out for sushi to celebrate our victory of making it out of the apocalypse.
For the next several days after the race I was super sore in my back and hip flexors. My teammates complained of similar aches particularly in their right buttocks, shins, and intercostal rib spaces. I assumed it was from all the screaming and laughing and sprinting, but after a few days I developed a pretty gnarly sinus infection complete with toxic green snot, most likely contracted from one of the small zombies I live with. So half-marathon training has been put on hold while I recover from the latest plague my kids have brought home from daycare.
Shout out to my cousin, Dawn, for donating to my St. Jude fundraising campaign!!!! Keep those dollars coming, I promise I will complete this race even if it kills me!!!!