It's always more fun to run a 5K with a twist. The hot new trend for 5Ks nowadays is the "zombie run," which geniously capitalizes on the growing popularity of the undead (Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, Lindsay Lohan...) and combines it with the growing popularity of competitive running. The basic premise is that people dress up as "zombies," who, along the course, "attack" runners by ripping a flag off of them (much like flag football). It's an all-out war between zombies and runners, as each tries to conquer the other. What will they think of next?
This particular zombie run took place in my hometown of Hubbard, Ohio, located in Trumbull County in the northeast region of the state. It was enouraging to me that my little city was finally jumping on the active lifestyle bandwagon, as this was one of the first 5K races that has ever taken place there, at least to my immediate knowledge (mind you I have not lived there in 9 years, so I could be wrong). I decided to head home to have yet another bonding experience with my older brother Curt (pictured above, before the race), who has also caught the running bug as of late and recently ran the Warrior Dash with me.
Curt and I traveled to Battlefront Paintball, located in the outskirts of Hubbard (which is also known as one of the best paintball spots in the whole state) on Sunday, October 14 to begin the race at 11 AM. The rules of the race were really not so clear, as we were left wondering what was supposed to happen to us if we were to lose both of our flags (do we quit running? do we become zombies? do we lose? do we keep going?). The rules were probably not so strict, as this was an event for all ages, and it was meant to be fun for the kids (you know, one of those "everybody wins" kind of things).
It was a beautiful October day, which was soon ruined by the ugliness of the zombies all along the run. Makeup artists worked their magic to transform the citizens of Hubbard into monsters (although I can vouch that I know some citizens that wouldn't need any makeup...joking...). The race route was a double loop through the paintball fields, which were peppered with junk cars, fortresses, and other obstacles along the way. The terrain was rough and tough. There were hills, holes, uneven ground, and a few creeks we had to splash our way through (or jump across, which Curt and I managed to do successfully).
My first flag was taken from me almost immediately when a "zombie" child no taller than four feet came out of nowhere and ripped it from my belt. I continued on the run, climbing over walls made of wooden palates (pictured above), crawling underneath another obstacle made out of 2x4s and thrashing through the brush, collecting countless burrs on my socks along the way. My calves were burning pretty badly because of the tough terrain, and I had a minor cramp in my stomach as well. Additionally, I could feel a blister on the bottom of my right foot, which was caused by my wearing a pair of my dad's old ill-fitting tennis shoes (the problem with mud runs such as this is that you don't want to wear a good pair of shoes in fear that you will ruin them).
As the race went on, I lost my second flag to a zombie gal who cornered me at an obstacle (not fair), and my brother somehow had his flags snatched up as well. This didn't bother us much, as there seemed not to be any repercussions for having lost the flags. In fact, it was pretty fun to see all of the scary looking kids (and adults) who were acting as zombies and jumping out of the weeds. It added a fun factor attempting to dodge the enemy and save your flags. I even got legitimately scared a couple of times from surprise zombie attacks. Despite losing our flags and experiencing some minor aches and pains, my brother and I conquered the second loop and crossed the finish line side by side with a time of 27:57, which was great considering all of the obstacles and the difficult course.
All in all, I feel it was a successful event for the Hubbard Public Library, and I hope that it is the start of many more years of zombie runs (or any other kind of run) in my home sweet home of Hubbard, Ohio.