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Published on August 8th, 2012 | by Casey Rostorfer

Run For Your Lives 5K: A Runner’s Perspective

So, there I was. Surrounded by a horde of seven zombies intent on getting their hands on me as a I approached them. I juked right in avoidance, I juked left to dodge another blow, I tripped the person running behind me, and pulled a patented “Shane Walsh” maneuver on the unfortunate runner in front of me. Sound like a nightmare? In this case, I assure you it was quite real. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in the Run For Your Lives 5K in Washington state, a race where a zombie fanatic can live out their un-dead dreams as they try to make it through the mapped out obstacle course alive.

This is not your normal, run of the mill 5K people, this course is tough with a capital “T”, made even more difficult by Mother Nature if you, like me, are lucky enough to have the temperature at your race site reach the triple digits.  The obstacles vary from location to location, but may include mazes, five foot walls to scale, sawhorses to crawl under in ankle deep, smelly mud, and water slides into water that contained elements of I’m not quite sure what. (And quite frankly, some things are better left unknown.) Half of the course for the Washington race was in the woods, and the other half along a motor cross track which was riddled with steep hills.

I consider myself to be in decent shape, and I walked the great majority of the 3.2 miles. I didn’t feel at all bad or inadequate for this fact though, because there were people half my age and who looked to be in much better shape than me who were walking right along with me. Don’t think just because you just completed Couch to 5K on your iPod that you are all bad-ass and can conquer this course no problem. I’ve got news for you kids, even Robert Griffin III himself wouldn’t make it through this without huffing and puffing and missing a few flags. And filthy, soooooooo filthy. I can’t begin to tell you how disgusting you will be at the end.

Although the course is littered with “zombies”, they are nearly all much more silly than scary. At no point was I ever frightened or intimidated by any of the un-dead. If I’m being 100% honest, the scariest part of the whole day is the porta-potties. I saw things in there that scarred me for life. My advice: don’t look down.

While I really did have a great time, I do have a few criticisms about the race itself. My biggest beef is that there were, at least by the afternoon when my wave started, just too many zombies. Seriously, and especially at the end. If you made it to two and a half miles with all of  your flags, you would lose them all in the last half mile, unless you were surrounded by a group of people decoying for you. There were at least 15 zombies grouped together in a pack and waiting for you at the end, and they were very aggressive.

My other complaint is the lack of water stations along the route. There was a water station every mile, in 100 degree weather, we needed several more. People were dropping like flies, and we were constantly swallowing dirt.

My last bitch point was the zombie make up. Now, this may sound like a petty complaint, but some of the people on the course had such poor make up and costuming that I didn’t know for sure if they were zombies or runners. In fact, one such individual took two of my flags at once right around two miles into the race. I probably owe that zombie an apology, I *may* have let out a diatribe of insults in his direction that would have made my husband, the sailor, blush. So, random zombie guy, if you are reading this, I’m sorry for calling you a string of profane names. I’m not sorry, however, for telling you that my 9 year old daughter does better zombie make up than you.

If you are signed up to do any of the remaining races this year, I have a few pieces of advice to make your race experience better.

1.) Buy a brand new pair of running shoes, break them in so they are nice and comfy…then leave them at home. Wear an old pair of shoes you are willing to part with to the race. In fact, go to Walmart and just buy a cheap, completely disposable race ensemble. Rather than try to salvage your clothes at the end, just chuck it all. Seriously, you will be disgusting.

2.) Bring a whole pack of wet wipes/baby wipes and two towels. It’s not as good as a shower, but it will make you feel a whole lot better than the tiny, thin stream of water they supply you with after the race and have to stand in line for 45 minutes to reach. Don’t just bring one towel, you’ll ruin it, and you’ll need two.

3.) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Bring cash to buy tickets for more water bottles. There isn’t any free potable water. Water was $3 a bottle, and you are only allowed to bring in one unopened bottle of your own.

4.) No matter what fitness level you think you are, start in the corral with the slow paced people. Trust me. Do not go out of the gate sprinting. You need to conserve as much energy as you can to run past the large hordes, plus, our route through the woods was littered with rocks, tree branches and loose earth. If you run out all gung ho and trip and break your ankle, you are going to feel like a jack ass. We saw several serious injuries come in to the first aid tent during our two hours before our race. Safety first people.

5.) STAY WITH A GROUP! STAY WITH A GROUP! STAY WITH A GROUP! And not just the two or three people you came with, I’m talking a group of 15-20 people. You may look around at the slow group of people you started with and think they are slowing you down. WRONG! Those people are your decoys. Once at the beginning, once again in the middle, and especially at the end, there is no way you could make it through with flags if you were all out on your own trying to be like a Kenyan at the New York Marathon. You’ll get swarmed. If you find yourself in between large groups, slow way down and wait for the next large group to catch up, rather than run to catch the one before you. If you are seriously lagging ahead or behind close to a mile marker, stop and hang out at the water station, then be ready to run when they are.

Were any of you out there last week? Drop us a line and let us know what you thought about it, and if you saw us out there around and about!

Til next time I decide to ramble on–


About the Author

Casey has had a zombie contingency plan since the age of 9. She hates chick flicks, would kill Hershel and take the farm, is terrified of hillbillies, dislikes melons of any kind and has a bad-ass bat.

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