Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Race Report: Run For Your Lives 5K

Back in the spring, I wrote about a health and fitness iPhone app called "Zombies, Run!"  The app is essentially an audiobook about the zombie apocalypse broken into chapters ("missions") that you complete by going for a run.  Periodically during your run, you'll be alerted to the fact that zombie hordes are approaching, and you'll need to speed up (as measured by your iPhone's GPS) to evade them.

Well, a few weeks ago, I ran the live-action equivalent of this app at the Run For Your Lives 5K in Darlington, Maryland.

(all good-looking photos courtesy of my co-running co-worker, unless otherwise marked (erm, sorry Capstone...); all crappy iPhone photos and videos by me)

My coworker and I before the race.  Anonymized for her, well, anonymity.

Run For Your Lives is a simple 5k.  With obstacles.  And mud.  And freezing cold neck-deep water.

Oh, and zombies.

There were about fifteen "zombie zones" that were chock full of aggressive* undead who all wanted a piece of you.

* Caveat:  The zombies seemed to take pity on you if you fell or slowed down to catch your breath; I sort of hoped they would show no mercy and all swarm on fallen runners (until I actually fell, at which time I was all like, hey thanks for not eating my brains you guys).  Also, the zombies stayed within the vague confines of their zones, so if you needed a break you could stop just before or past the zombies and they would not come for you.  And I needed many breaks, because I was sprinting through those guys at 110% exertion.  That said, the zombies got a lot more vicious towards the end of the course so as to leave fewer people "alive" at the finish line.

(Cut because I posted a ton of photos and don't want to crash your web browsers.  You want to see them, though, so click through.  Also I'll tell you whether I "lived" or "undied.")  (Okay, fine, I'll tell you now, I lived.)  

Here's how it works:  You pick a starting wave.

I chose "entree."  Really, what's most important is just being in the middle of one of these lines.

You start the race with three red flags on a flag belt.**  The zombies try to pull off all your flags while you try to evade them.  If they take all your flags, then you finish the race as a "zombie" and your name is left off the list of "alive" finishers.  (Note:  it would be way more fun if you became a zombie on the course and got to go after other runners, if only because that would more closely hew to the real zombie apocalypse.)

** Note:  bad idea to wear shorts with two red stripes down the sides.  For the entire race, all of the zombies thought I had a fully-stocked flag belt and went after me extra-determinedly.  Also, shorts in general were a bad idea because I ended up getting scratched up on the obstacles/ground after being pushed in a suspicious "accident."

Sound simple?

Watch as the zombies attack a wave of runners.  Notable moments:  Forrest Gump (at 1:20) and a girl in a tutu who, upon being cornered by zombies, blurts out, "Alright, I give up!"  (at 2:00) (note that this occurs about a minute after she crossed the starting line, so this girl still has a ways to go.)

Well, it was HARD.  As evidenced by my facial expression in this photo:

This water was UNBELIEVABLY cold.

Fun fact:  I "ran" this race (a FIVE KAY, MIND YOU --- THREE MILES) in 1:21.  That's one hour and twenty-one minutes.  That's a TWENTY-EIGHT MINUTE MILE (i.e., slower than walking).  And you want to know the best part?

I still finished in the top 25% of my age group.

Yeah, it was a hard race.

I make this wall look good, though.

Also, much like would be the case in the apocalypse, I was at a huge disadvantage taking the course solo.  While some groups worked as teams . . . (see, e.g.:

Remember this show?)

. . . Because I ran by myself I would often find myself running up to a zombie horde all by my lonesome.  And because my number one goal for this race was to finish the damn thing with at least one flag still on my belt, I would wait in front of the zombie zone until a group showed up behind me and I would then run behind a couple of big guys in order to evade the grabby zombie hands.


In true apocalyptic fashion, the "water stations" were just abandoned tables with jugs of water and bags of cups.  Of course nobody is going to be handing out water at the end of the world; get it yourself.  The course was also littered with unmarked dead ends that could cause you to go off-course by various fractions of a mile.  Theoretically, "health packs" with extra flags were hidden around the course, but I didn't see any when I ran it at 3pm (perhaps they were all taken earlier?).

Overall, this was an exceptionally fun race; it was VERY hard (although admittedly I am very out of shape) and a little bit scary, but I would still recommend it for the giggles.  It's even worth it to pay the spectator fee if you have friends who are running it.  The costumes were hilarious:

Rule #18:  Limber Up (same reference.)

There were about six people wearing this shirt: 

. . . and one poor sap wearing this shirt:

The majority of the people "running" the race actually walked at a slow, depressed trod, so if you've ever wanted to take one of the top ten spots in your age group at a race, this might be your best shot at doing so.

Although I was nowhere near a PR, I did finish alive/with one flag remaining!  (I think it helped that I kept the flag hanging front and center . . . we women are basically hardwired to protect ourselves from hands grabbing at that region!)

Jewish Girl-recommended!

The next race is this weekend in Orlando (today is the last day to register) and after that, the race will move to Texas and then South Florida in February.

What do you think?  Is this the kind of thing you'd be into?

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