You would have to be living under a rock to not know that zombies are the “it” thing. The TV show The Walking Dead is insanely popular, and bloody, creepy zombies are cooler than ever. Truth be told, I’ve never seen The Walking Dead (don’t judge me – I only have basic cable), and really, my only zombie experience has been watching the Thriller video back in the 80’s (yes, I realize I am dating myself). Nevertheless, when I saw Run For Your Lives was headed to Batavia, it sounded like fun – so I recruited my photog friend to tag along with me and check it out.
Now, getting chased by zombies is a bit too scary for me at this point – especially because I am currently in poor running shape. So, I decided to head there as a spectator. Batavia is about 45 minutes from my house. Race started at 8. Parking seemed like it would be an issue, so we headed out early – 6:30 – a time any self respecting zombie should really not be out and about. Turns out parking was a breeze, although it did cost $10 (boo to that btw, although I think zombies could park for free).
Run For Your Lives is a combination 5k/obstacle course with zombies chasing you. It’s kind of like flag football, but with zombies. Each runner gets red flags to wear. These represent your life. You have to get thru the course without the zombies tearing off your flags. Your medal is based on whether you were “infected” or survived. At the end, there is music, beer and food at an Apocalypse Party, “where you can enjoy live entertainment & activities without fear of your brain being eaten.” Sounds like fun, right? Right!
These races are held throughout the country. I’m guessing the Batavia date was one of the lower attended events, since we are a smaller market. I also know that 10,000 people participated in The Color Run in Buffalo that same morning, so I am sure that took away some potential participants. That race is also a fun one, and I have run it twice (review here).
The smaller crowd actually made it much more pleasant to get around, so I was happy about that. Plus, the weather was perfect – mild & sunny (although it would be cool for them to have this at night, adding to the scare factor). Runners took off in waves. We watched a few waves run, starting after 8 a.m. They had spectators stay behind red tape and some of the obstacle zones were not visible to us, which was a bummer. I’ll have to do the race myself next time so I can report back in greater detail.
That being said, I did talk to people and see enough for an overall description of what went on. Some runners ran the race and then did another wave as a zombie. You pay to be a zombie, as well as to be a runner. It costs less to just be a zombie. I think zombies and runners get a medal & t shirt. Runners also get life flags. I spoke with people who came to the race from Rochester, Buffalo, Binghamton and beyond. A few people I talked to had their entry transferred from out of town because the race they were going to do was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy last year!
Ok, back to the running dead. If you wanted to be a zombie, you were encouraged to come dressed in zombie attire. I saw many awesome, creative zombies – a gnome zombie, B52’s zombie, Mario and many, many more. I also saw many great tshirts and teams. This would be a fun race to do as a group. If you were there as a zombie, your first step was to go to the “Zombie Transformation” tent where zombie makeup and blood was applied. After that, it was time to stand in line and get blood thrown on you. That was a riot to watch! Talked briefly to the blood thrower. What a fun job that must be – bet his hands are stained red from doing this in city after city.
After you are zombified, you get your directions. Zombies were broken up into groups and given zones where they were stationed. They also get water for their 2.5 hour zombie shift. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! You were designated as a “chaser” or a “stumbler”. They switch zombies out after a few hours. Runners – be on your toes – these zombies are not running as much as you, so they have more energy to grab that flag. There was a shower area where you could wash up afterwards.
We watched the first wave of runners go thru. This race is not timed and takes longer than a normal 5k, since you are going thru obstacles – jumping over haystacks, getting shocked (yes, shocked), jumping into a “bloodbath”, going thru a smokehouse and maze, and, of course, avoiding zombies. The first obstacle I could see had runners going thru a small tunnel – I could hear the zombies chanting “fresh meat, fresh meat”. From there, I could not see the other obstacles, so I can’t really report on those. I did talk to some folks who said it was definitely challenging and scary. They went thru obstacles where they were mildly shocked, but said it did hurt! I could see one obstacle in the distance, and the zombies would dance as they were waiting around for their “victims.” Very fun and funny to watch.
I was also able to get close to another obstacle by a building surrounded by fog. You could hear a lot of screaming. I was also close to the pink pool of blood obstacle. As a runner, you can go around any obstacle if you really do not want to do it. I saw a lot of people walking at points – you could tell it was tiring going thru those obstacles. I could not see all of the course. From what I could see, you were running on the motorcross pathway – dirt, rocks, mud, water and then thru the woods (runners, please correct me if I am incorrect on some of the details).
The race ends with you going under an electric fence. At this point, many people were muddy and wet. In the beginning, I saw very few people with a survivor medal. I think that first group of zombies were pretty hardcore! Nevertheless, people seemed really into it. Even though this is an expensive race, cost did not seem to be an issue. Many had run The Dirty Girl and Tough Mudder. They were there for the challenge and experience.
It was a great people (zombie) watching event as well. Part of the proceeds of the race benefitted two charities – Project Sole and the Kennedy Krieger Institute (they help kids battling brain injuries). There was also a stage with music, beer (you get a free one after you finish), merchandise boothe, food for purchase and vendors. People were in great moods, the guy who pumped the crowd up was very energetic and funny (“if you want to do a Thriller flash mob, that’s fine”) and overall, I thought this was a unique and fun way to spend a Summer Saturday morning. Some event locations also offer camping in connection with the event – check the website for details.
I went a little crazy with the photos and took over 200 of them, but even so, only caught a fraction of the action. I also saw a lot of people running with those cameras that capture video. Here’s one and another YouTube clip is here and another creative one here – they traveled a bit for the race, love it! I’ll post even more links to participant videos, etc. as I see them. You can see more photos and footage on their official website, Facebook page or just google the race.
If you like zombies, like to watch zombies, or are just looking for a challenging, yet fun, untimed theme race, this is a unique one to do (or watch). And a huge thank you and shout out to my talented professional photographer friend. Obviously, her photos are 100x better than mine, so we teamed up together to share them between our two blogs. You can check out more of her work here. She is a big zombie buff, makeup artist and fan of haunted, creepy things. She even did one version of her wedding’s save the date cards dressed as a zombie (you can see her save the date postcard image below – that’s her & her hubby).
Bottom line, if you are a zombie fan, Halloween lover or just want to do or see a unique race, add this one to your list! Scroll down for more photos and a photo gallery. Until next time, see you on the roads… P.S. Photos without the watermark in the slide show are the ones I took.