Happy overdue race recap! I did this 5K almost 2 months ago and am just posting the recap now… Happy procrastinating!
What is a zombie 5K? It’s a race where zombies chase you. What is the Run For Your Lives 5K Obstacle Zombie Course? It’s an obstacle course race where zombies chase you, and did I mention there are obstacles? I signed up for this race a few months ago, which is good because it sold out pretty quickly, despite it’s steep price tag (it was in the $80 neighborhood). But you pay for premium for zombies.
And you know, the first rule of zombie survival is cardio.
The website describes it as “a first-of-its-kind event, one part 5K, one part obstacle course, one part escaping the clutches of zombies — and all parts awesome.” The website didn’t really describe much about the obstacles, but it did say you could skip any of the obstacles if you wanted to, which made me feel a bit more comfortable. The race is also part-flag football with zombies — you wear a flag belt, and if zombies take all of your flags, then you’re a zombie! You can still complete the race and get a time, but you won’t finish as an “alive” finisher.
When you sign up, you have to select a wave, which starts every 30 minutes. All of the morning ones were booked — the earliest wave was at 2:30pm, so I signed up for that one. They recommend you come down 2 hours before your wave, so you have plenty of time to park (which took awhile), pick up your packet, sign the scary waiver, check your bag, use a porta potty, et cetera. Darlington, Maryland is also an hour away, so we left around 11:30am. We arrived to what was probably Darlington’s first traffic jam at 12:30pm. There was a line of cars in this small town to get into the parking lot. Everyone had to park in a field 4 miles away from the actual course (which was on a camp) and take a shuttle in. AND parking cost $10. I already paid $80 to do this course, and I have to pay $10 to park my car and take a shuttle??? I was a bit miffed. I get more annoyed later, though (stay tuned).
Anyway, so we eventually park the car and take the shuttle (school bus) to the course. We probably made it to the entrance around 1:00 or 1:30. Everything at the entrance was very organized. We picked up the packet, where we received the chip (the shoelace kind), a bib, a belt with three flags, and a shirt. The shirt didn’t come in ladies’ sizes, unfortunately, so it’s a bit big. After picking up our packets, we went inside to the main area. They had a main stage with a band, a lawn with people hanging out, and a bunch of vendors selling food like crab pretzels and the equivalent of school cafeteria pizza. I had a slice of the pizza, unfortunately, because it was the cheapest item available ($3). Note to self: bring more cash next time.
We dropped off our bags at the bag check and then waited for our wave to start. The start of the wave had three corrals which were labeled “Appetizer,” “Entree,” and “Dessert.” It finally clicked that the labels were the order that you started (the waves had waves!). I started as an Appetizer. When 2:30 finally came around, the gates were lifted and we were off!
There goes the first wave!
During the course, you are in one of three states:
- Running from zombies in the “zombie zone” (I believe there were at least 12 zombie zones).
- Going through an obstacle.
- Running (which was more like walking) from an obstacle/zombie zone to the next obstacle/zombie zone.
The zombie zones were marked and numbered. Each zombie zone had REALLY good zombies. My favorite were the zombie nuns. The zombies had to stay in their zone but you had to make your way around them and protect your flags! Sometimes this led to a standoff between zombies and humans. It was also difficult dodging zombies in the muddy course.
Obstacles included crawling on the ground.
The obstacles were the most challenging for me. I pictured maybe 4-5 obstacles in a big field and a lot of waiting around for people ahead of you to get done with the obstacle. But no, there were a lot more than 5. There was crawling through mud, climbing walls, a barn with electrical shocks (skipped that), but the most terrifying for me was wading through a river that was probably 30 feet wide and 4 feet deep. And cold. So cold. (And this was during the first mile!)
By the time we finished the first mile, I was exhausted. (To think I ran a 26 miles two weeks ago.) Not only was it trail running, it was muddy trail running with obstacles and ZOMBIES. But it was so fun. Everyone was having a blast. At one point I thought, this is well worth the $80 price tag.
Now I said the most terrifying part was crossing the river, which it was, but the second most terrifying (a very close second) was near the finish line — climbing a 20 foot ladder and sliding down a slide that landed you in a 3 foot deep pool of disgusting, muddy water. I have a fear of heights but managed to get myself up the water (adrenaline?). When I got the top, I asked someone if they’d slide down with me. Because I am a wuss.
And just like that, the race was over! Well, nearly an hour later, the race was over. I got my “alive” medal, complimentary beer, and took off my shoes. I regretted not bringing a change of clothes or shoes. I did put on my dry complimentary zombie shirt (not-so-great — it did not come in women’s sizes, so it was big on me). Then we looked to go on the shuttle and get out of there.
This is the part where I get more annoyed. The line for the shuttle back to the parking lot was long. So long that we considered walking back to the car (which was 3 miles away). We determined it was faster to walk 3 miles than wait in the line, so when we decided to skip the line and walk, we were stopped by security, who told us that we could not walk back because local police said it was “dangerous.” So the police was telling us that we couldn’t walk. Are you serious? This is America! We had to wait in line for 50 minutes until we got onto the bus. It started to get cold and I started to get miserable. That was my only grievance with the entire day — if you make me park in this one parking lot and pay $10, at least get me back to my car in a reasonable time frame!
Well, anyway. The race was great; the parking logistics, not so much. I checked my official time, which was available online the next day — I ran it in 54:26 and placed 1129/6920. Wow!
Some advice if you are planning to do a Run for your Life 5K (this might apply to any obstacle 5K):
- Bring a change of clothes! Don’t forget extra shoes and socks.
- Wear shoes you do not care about. They will get muddy.
- Bring cash.
- Plan on being there for awhile. Try to sign up for an early wave so you don’t have to wait for the bus as long.
- Some people had cameras strapped to their heads, which is a cool idea.
I would recommend doing an obstacle 5K at least once! Bonus if there’s zombies.