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The Run For Your Lives 5K: A Zombie’s Account

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Back in February, we told you about the Run For Your Lives 5K Race, the zombie-themed obstacle course that pitted its runners against some “brain-thirsty” zombies. The objective of the race is for the runners to hold on to five white flags (signifying their “health”) and avoid having them stolen by zombies. Nicole “Ctrl Alt Destroy” Zeckner of the Circle City Derby Girls of Indianapolis has a firsthand account of her experience suiting up in zombie gear for the June 23 event, trying to eat the brains of runners (by stealing their flags), then trying to make it through as a survivor.

Pulling into the parking lot of the course, we knew we were in for a good time. We drove along a bumpy, gravely path with signs warning us of the zombies ahead. We were heading into the ZTC (Zombie Transformation Center) to begin the day undead.

We signed in and were each given a card with a zone number and instructions. We walked into the ZTC to begin transformation. The whole process was incredibly streamlined. We first followed the path to the costume area. You could choose to have either your own shirt shredded, or use one of the tops they had available. I used an old scrimmage shirt, and my two teammates had chosen pre-shredded shirts. They had a variety of sizes that made it easy for everyone to find something that fit.

We then headed into makeup. I was fortunate enough to have been marked for prosthetics at the check-in desk. I was outfitted with a bite on my cheek and a slashed neck. After going through prosthetics, we moved into makeup. There were two lines; one for chaser zombies, and one for stumbling zombies. We were signed up as chaser zombies. We were outfitted with bright red blood splatters, and the very beginning stages of decay. The stumbling zombies had graying skin, and sunken eyes.

After getting our faces painted, we moved onto blood splatters. We were sprayed down with fake blood, and stood aside to wait our turn to run. Or so we thought. Right before we were scheduled to run, we had corn-syrupy blood thrown on us for a fresh effect. Our transformation had been completed!

It was time to head out onto the course. We had all been assigned Zone 5, which was fortunately outfitted with shade and a little rustic house. We had two stumbling zombies with us. The first wave of runners took us a bit by surprise. We had only grabbed a few flags from them. We quickly got to work on strategy.

Our plan was to have one stumbling zombie by the rustic house, hidden. And the other stumbler to hide behind a big stump. They would jump out to surprise runners and take their flags, and us chasers would do anything we could to get them either near the stumblers or get the flags before they could get out of our area.

This is where our derby skills got to shine. We were juking left and right around runners grabbing flags. We were communicating (in zombie growls of course) where the runners were going. We were picking out runners left and right. We were quite proud as our pile of flags started getting bigger than the pile the zombies before us had collected. Waves of runners came every thirty minutes, and each wave lasted about ten minutes in our zone. So there was a lot of down time to talk strategy and what we would do when it was our turn to run after our shift.

When it our shift was over, we were taken back to the ZTC to turn back into humans. And now it was our turn to survive. We had a rough plan, but we got out there we had to adjust quickly. Survival was not a matter of speed. It was a matter of cunning, and of group strategy. As we got past the first few zones of zombies, we found a group that was a good fit for us. They moved about our speed (so we wouldn’t get winded between sets) and we all had the same survival mindset. Jackie Bauer, our pivot (the one who tells everyone what to do) on the track quickly fell into the same role in our group. We’d race through the zombies as a pack, and try to protect each other without going down ourselves.

I was the first one to die on our run. I quickly came in as the decoy. I’d run in first waving my arms in the air yelling “Hey zombies, over here, look at me.” Although it was very obvious what I was doing, the zombies would all hesitate and look. This allowed our group a few extra precious seconds to get through the zombies.

There were not many obstacles throughout the course. There was a wall to jump over, a dark house with shocking wires, a military crawl, a cargo net, money bars over a pool of blood and fence that had to be belly crawled under through mud and water. The focus on the race was definitively to avoid the zombie horde. The obstacles we did have though, really helped us work as a team. We’d hold the cargo net for each other. And make sure each of us was able to get off it without injury. We cheered each other over the monkey bars, which was the toughest challenge for us. We went down about a third of the way through, but while cheering each other on the whole time.

We hit the Apocalypse Party following our run. There were a handful of merchant tents, Subaru having the biggest one, and zombie-inspired paraphernalia. There was a band playing on a stage with some of the runners and spectators watching. And a “runners revenge” dunk tank, where you could dunk a zombie. There were campers set up on the far edge of the party. We had problems redeeming our drink tickets, because only one area would allow us to use them. And we had to get them to make an exception because none of us wanted any beer. Overall, the party felt a bit forced, although we were there early and that could be why.

At the end of the day, no one on our team “survived” the run. But we had a great time the whole way through. We’ll be training for next year. Starting with the monkey bars…

Ctrl Alt Destroy is a fresh meat skater for the Circle City Derby Girls. When she’s not skating she’s a software tester and gadget geek. You can follow the Circle City Derby Girls on Twitter and Facebook!

Pictured from left to right: Jackie Bauer, Cassie Khaos, Ctrl Alt Destroy

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