It was actually around 4 miles, a little more than 5k and it was my first official foot race. This was not, however, your normal empty gesture run / walk. The race I participated in was training for the zombie apocalypse. That’s right, it was a 5k zombie mud run and it was such stupid fun that I plan on doing it again next year. Hopefully, my brother will do it with me.
I woke up around 6:00am, made my juice, and took off to the ranch where the race was held. There were a good number of cars there already at 8am and a ton of people waiting to get their bibs and flags. I had already picked up my race package so I was good to go. My friend and coworker Corky, joined me and we strolled around to get our blood moving prior to the race. It was around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. A perfect day to get our run on. People were dressed from normal running gear to crazy survivalist outfits. A number of great costumes were seen and there were some AWESOME zombie outfits. My favorite had to be either the nurse zombie, or the near twin cheerleader zombies. Not hard on the eyes at all.
The way this thing works is, there are two factions: runners and zombies. Runners are given a belt with which to attach two flags. There were supposed to be three flags but this was the events first year, so it was a little clown shoes. They didn’t have bibs for the runners who signed up through living social, which included my friend. I digress.. The object of the race is to get through the obstacles and zombies without losing both your flags. If you lose all your flags, you are allowed to finish the race, but you are considered mortally wounded, and infected, death being imminent. If you keep your flags, or flag, you get a certificate saying you survived and you get a beer ticket.
Corky and I line up, and they sound the horn and we’re off, like a herd of turtles in a cloud of peanut shells. First up on the map, about a football field in, was marathon runner zombie (MRZ). This dude looked like he could outrun the entire crew, and do it longer than anyone there, he was fit. He was sprinting back and forth on the path with a fist full of flags. We booked it through unscathed and kept going. There we a few more zombies and then the first mud pit. The assembly crew had put rope across the pit. I assume this was to get people to crawl under it, but the panicking runners had pretty much torn it all down. There was a narrow mud pit right after this one with a zombie in it. Again we made it through unscathed.
The dynamic that occurred in the early stages of this run went like this: relaxed jog to get down the road, see commotion up ahead, arrive at said commotion, sprint like a motherfucker. This went on until we came up on a series of walls with a lumbering zombie in front. I figure he was instructed not to grab to many flags unless a runner stood right in front of him because there was a small line to start climbing. Corky and I waited on the outside until we could get to the walls. My shoes were wet and muddy, so on the third wall, my foot slid across the top of a 2×4 and kicked the younger girl climbing next to me. She was focused and didn’t mind, and ended up booting me on accident as well.
Danger ahead in the least expected size.
I crest the final wall, which is one of the smaller ones, and I plan on jumping down and sprinting as fast as I can because there are 3 zombies in front. I hop down and start off and this little girl, who couldn’t have been older than 6, steps in my path. Now if this was an adult, I could have just blazed through, hip check and all, but I’m not going to do that to a wee lil girl. So I do a sideways skip, and this little beast, eye level with my flag, snatches it off me. Damn, I got got by a little girl. They’re always the creepiest in the movies, so I shake it off and keep going.
The track is getting narrower so Corky and I develop a strategy. We found ourselves alone and instead of braving the track with the zombies with MRZ waiting. We waited for a group of folk to catch up, then ran with the cattle. It allowed us through. So after a few more groups of zombies we crossed a tall hay bail stack and then made our way to a two story high tower made out of 2×6’s. Running up, I came face to face with a zombie who was determined to get my flag. I busted out a spin move that would have made Emmett Smith green with envy and made my way up the tower. I took my time doing this tower, because although I am not afraid of heights, the memory of my slippery shoe was vivid in my thoughts. I actually got a little nervous cresting to the otherside for my descent.
Zombies were waiting on the other side, but I sprinted past them and on to the next obstacle. This one was not ready, which I attribute to being in the first heat. It was a long tarp so I assume it was a water slide. Bummer, that would have been fun. By this point in the race, many people had lost their flags so the zombies were getting hungrier. You could just see it in their eyes “FLLLAAAAAAAAAAG”. After some tight situations (the zombies were posting up in bottlenecks on the course, where the path was forced through gates and the like) we came up on a mudpit. This pit had three sections and I could that the two zombies were about chest deep in the water, and there was not much room in between. I got up to the pit and there was a land whale of a zombie, or hochunk if you will. I start sprinting, leap OVER the beast, and throw myself face first into the next muddy watered section. Crisis averted. At this point, Corky powered ahead faster than me, I kept my pace and move on.
When I signed up for this thing, I read that there was going to be a blood cannon. I was excited. I envisioned climbing up a slippery slope into huge waves of blood. I thought wrong. When I got to the haunted manor, after sprinting past hungry zombies, I got squirted in the face by a small discharge from a metal cylinder. The cannon was disappointing.
Moving forward, this was the return leg of the race. Flags were few and far between. I caught up with some people I knew, and walked with them for a minute until the very last part. I started jogging again, and from about 50 yards before the finish line, there were 4 zombies, including a zombie bride in a bitchin’ costume. I took a casual jog past the first zombie as my remaining flag was behind me. Once I passed that zombie, she screams out, “He has a flag!”. I take off at a dead sprint and yell back. “Yer damn right and I’m gunna keep it, WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”. The spectators start cheering, and I blaze past the remaining zombies and across the finish line. Awesome.
Some takeaways I got from the event:
- It’s good that I had been working sprints with my dog because those muscles were key in surviving the race.
- I was impressed with my endurance as I did not know I had it in me to break out in full sprint at the end of a 4 mile jog. The max I had been doing was 3 miles.
- I need to quit smoking cigarettes as that is the main thing holding me back. My lungs were pissed after the race, as they always are after some intense cardio.
- Runner culture is tits. There was a ton of talent on display at this thing, I think that’s something I can totally embrace.
- When doing an event like this, always get the earliest possible heat. The cars were lined up for about a mile when I was leaving at 12:00pm and the parking looked to be about two football fields back towards the horizon. Long waits.
- I like running fast more than I like smoking, change is imminent.
I’m way proud of myself, a major accomplishment for me. I’ve dropped 35 lbs. so far and my clothes are fitting great. I started out last year as a XXL and size 42 pant. I’m now at a L and size 36. Change is possible with determination and perseverance, as I am living proof. Fuck yeah.
Also, I’m registering today for another 5k, except this is just a mud run. I’m doing it with some folks from my work and it should be a load of good, dirty fun. I can’t wait.