I was feeling guilty over having only been a spectator at the Run For Your Lives Zombie Race back in August. It was time to get back into participant mode! Fortunately, I stumbled upon a night race in Syracuse (at the fair grounds) that involved zombies & scary costumed characters. I was also drawn to this race because it was untimed & shorter than a 5k (2.5 miles). The race started at the entrance of Fright Nights, an event near Halloween with all sorts of creepy things to see. Admission to this race got you into that event too. Not a bad deal, since that ticket alone is $20.
The course was described as one “where zombie creatures and other characters will work their spooky best to scare the run right out of you. Don’t worry about chip times… worry about the zombies and other creatures.” So, with that description in my head, I drove to Syracuse after work (about an hour and half drive).
I was a bit worried about the weather. Previously, we had been enjoying an idyllic fall – with temperatures in the 60s. However, upstate NY weather reality arrived this week and it has been quite cool and rainy. It was drenching rain when I got to Syracuse, but fortunately – by race time, the sky was clear. I would guess race time temp was around 40. I was also nervous about my Raynauds kicking in and causing a painful attack in my hands. But, I really wanted my Escape From Fright Nights canvas tote bag. Yes, that is sometimes all it takes for me – good swag items. I wore mittens and had my hand warmers, so I was ok.
Just like many races this time of year, costumes were encouraged. There was a costume contest before the race started. Categories were: scariest, funniest, duos/team and best use of Saucony gear. There were some great costumes – people dressed as iPhones, jail birds, a puppet master and marionette, Tinkerbell and many more. I have run in costume before, but this time I was just in regular attire. The costume contest was held inside the Fright Nights building and it was really hard to hear. I’m not sure everyone in costume even knew a contest was going on.
After the contest (I’m not sure who won), we were instructed to walk to the starting line. The race started in daylight (6 p.m.), but darkness set in by the time the race was over. The rain produced a lot of puddles and mud, so you definitely had to watch your step. It was a muddy/sloppy, puddle-filled course on gravel and pavement. My shoes were wet and dirty by the time I finished.
There were 5 “Fright Zones” throughout the course and one water stop. Zombies were trained to “incite fear from a distance.” The first fright zone was through a tunnel. That zone was my favorite (sorry, no pics). Costumed zombies and characters (some with loud faux chainsaws) did their best to scare runners. They taunted you as you ran and ran by your side or chased after you. I’ll admit it – I was a wimp and was scared at a few points. Let’s face it – they definitely had the advantage since they were stationery at times and we were the ones continuously moving.
The course was around the fairgrounds. We ran on gravel, thru water, mud and by train tracks, trains and other state fair buildings. It was a creepy atmosphere and was accompanied by loud Halloween themed music, and, in some spots – flashing lights and Halloween decorations (tombstones, etc).
In retrospect, I should have had a better strategy and conserved my energy for the fright zones. I’m not good with quick spurts of running like that, but I did the best I could and never stopped once. I started the race with my right toe hurting – an annoyance that started earlier in the week. Combined with my weight gain and heel injury, it definitely slowed me down. But, it was all for fun. I kept running and enjoyed seeing the other runners weave in and out and be chased by the scary creatures. The race ended with a run through the Fright Nights building and through the HUGE creepy clown at the entrance. You could then pose with a “I survived Escape From Fright Nights” sign and enjoy candy, cider, doughnuts and apples.
Overall, I thought this was a good race, especially for the season. This was the second year for the event. I’m not sure if numbers increased from the first year, but I do think it is a race that could continue to grow. If I had to guess, I would say they had a few hundred runners and walkers.
Personally, I now know I am NOT ready for a zombie race where I am chased and life flags are taken away from me. I would be “dead” by the first zone. That being said, I loved seeing all the costumes, the setting was perfect for a Halloween race and it seemed like people were enjoying themselves. One bummer for me was that my main camera locked up before the race started. So, I had to rely on my secondary camera. I was not able to adjust the settings for nighttime. So, I apologize for the lack of photos and decent shots. Also, it is very difficult to take decent shots when you are running (even if the run is a slow jog).
PROS: Great theme race for the fall season/Halloween. Un-timed aspect makes this inviting for all ages/levels of runners. Cute bag. Great logo. Well organized.
CONS: It was very hard to hear the announcements – maybe get a louder megaphone – especially for the costume contest. Would have loved to have a race bib – I save those as souvenirs. I would have also liked a race t-shirt – even if I had to purchase that separately.
PRICE: $25 pre-registered, $30 day of race (includes admission to Fright Nights at the fair).
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If you want to learn more about this race, check out their Facebook page. I did see a videographer filming by Fright Zone One as the race started. Not sure if this was the media or not. If so, I will post a link when I find it. This was my second to last race of the year and my 70th race since I started running – wow! My final race for the year will be a new 5k on turkey day in Wyoming, NY.