I sprinted around the bend in the trail as fast as I could go, the chilling moans of the zombies I had just avoided giving my bruised and battered legs barely enough strength to keep from collapsing beneath me. This was it, the last hill. Fifty yards of dirt and rock lay between me and safety.
I had been pushing myself too hard, but anything less would have resulted in a gruesome and disappointing death. The last three miles had been a hellish fight against both the elements and the ravenous undead.
Thick, viscous mud had long since coated my entire bottom half in a rapidly hardening shell of pestilential filth. From the waist down I was completely covered with what looked and smelled like an unholy mixture of chocolate syrup and diarrhea spewed from the tainted bowels of a million billion Mexican day laborers with Crohn’s disease. At this point it was unclear which had claimed more casualties- the gnawing teeth of the infected, or the stinking quagmire of the escape route itself. I had seen too many fellow survivors evade the grasping hands of the undead only to lose their footing in the stinking morass and fall to their death when they lacked the strength to lift themselves back up from the fearsome embrace of the hungry mud.
I wasn’t going to stop and help the poor bastards. I had abandoned Mistress in the first seconds of our flight when she lost her shoes, there was definitely no way I was going to risk my life for strangers. When the dead walk the earth, heroes soon join them.
Not me though. I was going to survive, whatever the cost. I had done things to reach my goal. Terrible things. But none of that mattered now. I had almost made it, the safe zone was tantalizingly close.
Forcing my sweaty, mud-smeared eyes to focus, I looked up the hill toward my salvation.
Mother Fucker. Zombies.
The bastards were spread out in a line, hands together in a classic red rover formation. I couldn’t stop my head long dash, the zombies behind me were still closing in. They were coordinating! They had herded me straight into a trap. I tried to change course, but the 80 pound mud bricks that my feet had become refused to respond to my mental commands. I breathed one last sigh of frustration, and with a gleeful howl the zombies had me.
“I got it!” one crowed enthusiastically, waving my last red belt flag over his head.
“Yeah! Good job!” The others responded, patting their rotting compatriot on his tattered and bloodstained back.
“Hey guys!” a zombie lookout warned from his hiding place in a tree, “there’s another one coming! Get ready for him!”
Well son-of-a-bitch. I didn’t realize zombies were so well-coordinated. All that remained for me to do was wait in line for the water slide, and then limp down to receive my disappointing pity medal at the finish line. Thus ended my first experience with the “Run For Your Lives” zombie themed 5k race franchise.
Eh. It was okay. As per the race website, “Runners will navigate a series of challenging obstacles throughout a 5K course in an attempt to reach the finish line — all while avoiding zombies.”
Now, unless you count 3 miles of knee deep mud interspersed with portions of waist deep mud as “a series of challenging obstacles” there really weren’t any obstacles. Certainly nothing on par with a Tough Mudder or Rugged Maniac type race, which is what I was expecting. I guess I should have known better. Races like Tough Mudder or the Rugged Maniac are designed and organized by various branches of the military. As far as I can tell, Run For Your Lives was designed by…people who like zombie movies? Nothing says “I’m qualified to build challenging obstacles that can withstand the passage of thousands of people in a single day” like watching Dawn of the Dead sixteen times.
My disappointment in the lack of obstacles, and my overwhelming bitterness at being “killed” by a highly coordinated zombie trap, as well as my frustration in knowing that the constant mud made getting a decent 5k run time entirely impossible aside, the Run For Your Lives zombie 5k experience was a pretty good one.
Parking was off site, but shuttles ran regularly and efficiently. Lines were long throughout the event, but moved fairly rapidly. Beer tents were plentiful, and the food options were adequate. I had one of those giant turkey legs that I assume are sold at renaissance fairs. Why does the meat on those things look and taste like ham?