by Thomas Nastasi
On June 8, 2013, my 17 year old brother Andrew and I drove an hour and a half to Medford, NJ for the Run for Your Lives Zombie Run. We are big fans of The Walking Dead TV show and were really excited for this run. We entered the first wave at 8am and were ready to roll.
This race is very unique compared to others I have run. It’s a 3.1 mile course with a handful of solid obstacles and hundreds of zombies. When you register, you can choose to be a runner or a zombie. We both signed up to be runners, but if you chose to be a zombie, professional makeup artists transform you into another being. It was amazing how well they did considering the number of people there.
Runners are given a belt with three Velcro flags on it. These flags represent your health. As you run the course, you need to get past the zombies while they try to go after your flags; easier said than done. You’re not supposed to make physical contact with the zombies, but natural instinct comes into play when a freaky creature comes at you. I saw a lot of stiff arming, tackling, and other illegal force by some runners. It happens, I guess. The race isn’t timed, so you can pretty much go at your own pace.
The race begins with runners stationed in a makeshift house with 3 lanes: Appetizers, Entrees, & Dessert. Andrew and I were right in front of the Dessert corral. The race started and we had no idea what was in store. Prior to starting, I really took this as a joke of a race. I didn’t expect it to be challenging or exhausting. I was so wrong.
We ran for about a quarter of a mile until we came to our first herd of zombies. It was best to stay in a group and hope the zombies went after easy targets. We sprinted, hurdled, spun, juked, and dove past the first wave. It was exhausting. The second wave was more of the same. When you would get past a herd of zombies you needed to catch your breath. It was so exhausting. The third wave of zombies was huge: A good 500 yards of about a hundred zombies. This is where a curveball was thrown in. I didn’t know some of the zombies were called “Chasers.” Completely out of breath from zigzagging from zombies, they decide to send some fast ones after you. This one kid was relentless. He chased Andrew for a good 100 yards before getting his flag. I was in complete hysterics as I watched and also got chased. We both lost a flag here.
The obstacles were tame compared to other OCRs I do. The most memorable one was a structure they built that had black plastic covering it. The volunteer told everyone to grab a rope inside and it will help guide you through. When you entered it you could not see anything. It was pitch black with white smoke. As my eyes adjusted, I could vaguely see thin rope strands.
I immediately yelled to Andrew, “Don’t grab the—”
Too late! The crack and spark of electricity lit the place up and a violent yell from Andrew echoed through the death trap. Andrew was in disbelief that the volunteer would lie to him. Electric wires were hanging everywhere. People were screaming and cursing like you wouldn’t believe. I thought it was hilarious, but I know the pain of those wires. It’s no laughing matter; Tough Mudder is notorious for them. We crawled around the perimeter and escaped without another incident.
We continued on and eventually lost all our flags. We were “Infected!” This is where the race got extremely lame. As an Infected runner, the zombies don’t chase you. You basically stroll through the rest of the course at your own pace. A few obstacles, including a slide into a blood bath (red colored ice water filled with chlorine), and you are finished. If you were one of the few lucky ones, you received a medal that says “Survived.” Mine says “Infected.” Oh well!
I’ll be doing this race again on October 26th in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fun. It’s nationwide and I’m sure there are similar zombie runs in everyone’s area. A few tips for anyone interested. Don’t sign up for the first wave. The zombies are way too “alive” and eager during the first run. Also, run with as many people as possible. If you become infected, you can act as a decoy when running past zombies for your friends. Andrew and I had a blast and can’t wait to do it again. This race had “lived” up to its name.