Over a year ago, while SYED was still going on, I found about this 5k Zombie Race called Run for Your Lives.
It sounded like a great idea: a 5k obstacle course with people playing zombies who are trying to grab “health” flags from you. You start with three flags and if you lose them all you “die” but really you just don’t get to finish with the distinction of being alive.
Perfect for SYED so I signed up immediately. This was August of 2011 or so. When I got the confirmation for my registration (which was $60, nothing to sniff at) I noticed it said October 20, 2012. What?? Over a year away??
I emailed the company to try and cancel but they said there were no refunds. No refunds for an event over a year away. But they had no problem charging my credit card. Plus, SYED would be over then, what would be the point?
That was one of the first times I realized how much impact the blog was having on my life. Was I just going to revert to the same person when it was over? I really didn’t want that to happen. So I did nothing about it.
Flash forward to present day and the race was suddenly upon me. I assumed it was somewhere relatively nearby but unfortunately it was at the Vail Lake Resort in Temecula, 110 miles from my house! ONE WAY!
Driving 110 miles in LA is the equivalent of journeying the length of the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. I left at 6:30 am to get to my race which was at 9 am.
I parked in a dirt field with hundreds of other cars. Then I had to hike about a quarter mile to get to the race area.
The race course looked like it was setup on the fire roads in the hills (you can see in the photo above). There were various tents set up for checking your gear, first aid, changing areas and more.
After getting my time chip, bib and free t-shirt, it was already almost 9 am. I dropped my stuff off at the bag check and headed to the start area.
The start area consisted of three long chutes (named affectionately “appetizer”, “dinner” and “dessert”) into which we were herded like cattle to the slaughter. We waited around for about ten minutes when finally a gate at the end was opened and we were off amid a cloud of fog injected into our faces.
The course started off with a brutal hill for about a quarter mile. I mean, seriously brutal. I hadn’t really warmed up but I managed to jog up it. Only me and two other guys seemed to be running it and they gave up halfway up.
I saw the first zombies at the top of the hill. I blasted by them like a zombie dodging God and thought this was going to be pretty easy.
The race description said there were different paths to choose but where I saw a fork in the road, people where coming down toward me in one direction and away from me in another. So I headed where the people were going away from me.
Still nobody was running. The first hill wiped them out already. I passed by a couple more zombie areas and then I realized how tired I was. I could run ten miles easily but having to accelerate and cut back and forth to avoid zombies was something else entirely. By the time I got to the next zombie area, I was about to collapse.
I ran straight into a zombie and instead of trying to dodge her, I said, “I’m to tired for shit!” She broke character and laughed but still grabbed one of my three flags.
After that area, even though I didn’t want to, I had to stop and catch my breath. After a few moments, I was off again.
The zombie areas began to have obstacles with them. First there were some hills. Then there were hills with water trenches. I lost my shoe in the first water trench and had to go back for it. When I put it back on, it felt like it weighed ten pounds.
When I went into this thing, I thought being alone would be an advantage. I would be able to move faster. But the way the zombie areas were set up, if you went by yourself you were basically the bait. All the zombies would go after you. If you went with a group, the zombies would be spread out. Divide and conquer. So I started sneaking by behind other groups. And yes, I may have used a tired chubby girl as a screen at one point. No, I didn’t feel bad. IT’S A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, PEOPLE.
The freakiest obstacle was this zombie house that was a mini-maze. I got inside and it was dark and smoky. Then some guy yelled out, “OH MY GOD FUCK NO SHIT GOD FUCK.” He sounded genuinely scared. Like “this isn’t a game anymore” scared. And that freaked out the guy in front of me so bad he just stood there. What was going on?
I pushed past both of them and then felt a strange pain. It was an electric shock. That’s when I saw there were wires dangling from the ceiling. Holy shit. I ran further in and was shocked again. It was actually kind of painful. There’s something about an electric shock that is so disconcerting. More so than a needle or heat or blunt force.
The next obstacle to me, looked like barbed wire hurdles. I am 6′ 3″ so maybe that’s why. It was four single lines of barbed wire strung across at two foot intervals. So naturally I started hurdling them. That’s when one clipped my shin and I sort of got caught on it. I eventually got my foot out that’s when somebody screamed, “You’re kicking the barbed wire on people!” That’s when I saw people were crawling UNDER the wire. Whoops! My bad! BUT IT’S A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
I’m not sure where I lost my second flag. But I was damn sure I wasn’t going to lose my last one. As I neared the home stretch, there was a zombie that was going to get my flag. There was no question about it. He had the angle on me and I was pretty tired. He reached for my flag and out of sheer survival instinct, I slapped his hand aside. Pretty hard. I felt kind of bad about it but I blame my jungle cat-like reflexes. Plus IT’S A ZOM- okay.
There were a few more wall hurdles and then a giant ramp that lead to a slide down into a tank of water. I hate water. Especially gross muddy weird water that hundreds of people have been in already. But I went for it because it’s been awhile since I’ve really went for anything. It was predictably pretty gross. But at least I did it.
There was another crawl section but to leave no doubt, it had a sign that said UNDER. Why didn’t the other one have that?
One last gauntlet of zombies and I was done. I had one flag left. I was still alive. Was I proud of hiding behind people, bouncing barbed wire off someone’s head and slapping an innocent zombie? You’re goddamn right I was!
Overall, it was pretty fun. The locale was a kind of boring. Like most things in LA, it was just brown dirt hills. If there were trees and grass it would’ve been nicer. The zombies did a good job although I was kind of annoyed they had a mix of slow moving and fast moving zombies. You have to choose damnit!
It would’ve been a lot more fun if I had some friends with me. That was the biggest takeaway for me. If there’s a zombie apocalypse, you don’t want to be alone.
The next day I decided to look up my time. I thought it might be decent since nobody seemed to be running. Much to my surprise, I found out I won my heat, get 10th overall for the entire race (8000 people over the day), got 2nd in my age group and 6th out of the “alive” finishers. Not bad.