Dodging zombies, clowns in 5K race

Originally Published: October 31, 2011
By Kristy Barry | Special to Page 2

Go through the gantlet or go home -- or get your brain eaten by hordes of zombies at the inaugural "Run For Your Lives" 5K.

Nearly 10,000 runners braved a series of hellacious zombie-infested obstacles through a field and forest course in Darlington, Md., between Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Like in flag football, participants receive three flags on a belt, which represent health. Stripped of their three flags, the running living now join the ranks of the walking dead.

Challengers trudged through chest-high water, sloshed around in thick heaps of mashed potato-like mud and tackled several obstacles, while dodging flesh-hungry zombies who would suddenly jump out from behind trees and dart after runners.

"We're a true couch-to-5K program," said Ryan Hogan, the event's co-creator. "This enables people to make an easy decision to get in shape while having the experience of a lifetime."

The bloody-faced super-predators lurched at runners, trying to snag flags and scare runners with growling and screaming, while chasing racers down wooded paths. Rules prohibit roundhouse kicking of zombies.

Steep hills, rocks, slippery surfaces and unmarked trails intensified the course for humans seeking survival. An "apocalypse party" follows the race, as well as a massive spray-down to wash away sweat, mud and "apocalyptic liquids" from the course.

Costumes included clowns, bridal gowns and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some zombies even dressed to impress as doctors, chefs and Winnie the Pooh.

My sister Katie and I dressed as Little Red Riding Hoods, confident that the inarticulate deadbeats would face a similar fate as the big, bad wolf. Katie survived with one flag, but I couldn't escape the grip of zealous zombies.

"Run For Your Lives" plans to cross the country starting in March, with zombie-filled runs in cities like Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles and Seattle.

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