Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Run For Your Lives race report

Last weekend Wil and I ran the Zombie Run in Seattle -- a fun enough, if underwhelming, zombie-themed 5K. This weekend, however, I had roped my LSF (long-suffering friend) Suz into doing the Run For Your Lives 5K with me -- as a ZOMBIE!!!

We signed up for the middle shift -- 10:45 - 12:45, or something like that -- because the race itself was being held in the back of beyond... somewhere called McCleary, that's southwest of Olympia. In addition to the 90-minute drive, we also needed to arrive two hours before our shift so we could be turned into zombies...

Suz picked up up a little before 7 -- and she burst out laughing at the sight of me. See, I didn't just want to wear street clothes... even street clothes that I didn't want anymore. So I went to my local Goodwill the day before and picked up a very handsome leopard-print nightie and some curlers. Add some fluffy "slipper socks" over my running shoes, some running shorts (so I didn't flash anyone -- I figured I would be scary enough...), and a ratty black bathrobe, and I was ready to go.

We drove and drove and drove... but traffic was light and we made good time. We weren't quite sure what to expect when we got there... would there be signs? Gold star for the organizers -- there were large banners out on the highway so it was easy to spot. And you know how I appreciate good signage!!!

We turned into the driveway and joined a small line of cars. Gold star number two: they were super organized with how they took the parking fees. As zombies, we actually even got free parking. Woot!

The parking itself was a little painful -- I'm always amazed at just how long it takes to get cars parked in a field -- but within a few minutes we were out of the car and on our way in. I vacillated a bit on whether or not to wear my bathrobe, knowing it would get destroyed, but in the end decided I would rather have the extra warmth. It was a very good call.

First we stopped at the waiver tent, signed the documents, and then got our "packets" -- a black wristband with our zombie zone number on it and a little card with zombie rules printed on it. Humans received race bibs, too.

Then we joined the line at the Zombie Transformation Center, right on time. It was interesting to see what other zombies-to-be were wearing. Humans were standing around watching the transformations... it was a little like being in a zoo.

First stop was wardrobe, where 4 or 5 guys with various knives and cutting blades shredded clothes. Slight demerit here: it hadn't occurred to us that we would need to take off the clothes we wanted shredded... I think a lot of other zombies had the same issue. But I handed over my bathrobe and they went to work.

Then we went to the next stop -- the makeup line. Chaser zombies -- the ones who would actually be running after the humans -- got less makeup because they were "fresher". Stumbling zombies, like us, got more attention because we were more decomposed. Ewww. 

Some zombies, including both of us, were given prosthetic scars. First they cleaned our skin with rubbing alcohol, then glued on thin latex "scars".

Suz having her scar applied

hmm, am I allergic to latex?

Then on to the next station, where an artist used an airbrush to apply a green-grey-yellowy base pallor.

greenery yallery, Grosvenor Gallery (shout out to my G&S fans out there...)
The next artist airbrushed on contour -- hollowing out our cheeks, under our eyes, etc.

Suz getting contour -- which looked AWESOME!!!

Then a third artist applied "mud splatters" and general dirt by flicking dark paint off the end of a stiff brush.
it's VERY DIFFICULT to get this much makeup off!!
The final stop in the tent was for blood, where Suz and I got sticky dark "blood" on our scars as well as in other spots on our faces. Gory goodness! The masterpieces:

Suz -- looking properly zombified

Sunny - looking a bit worried
We had 45 minutes before our shift, and 30 minutes before the "blood throw" ... so we were allowed to leave the zombie pen and wander around the party. Humans from the first waves had already finished, music was playing, and nervous humans were waiting for their turn to start.  We wandered over to a hill overlooking part of the course -- a series of wide dirt "lanes" with hairpin turns and plenty of hills. In the distance we could see the "smokehouse" -- essentially a giant tent, filled with smoke and live wires with low-voltage electricity. There was also a covered grandstand that occasionally had streams of humans sprinting across it. But we couldn't see much else.

I kept forgetting that we were in full makeup -- we posed for several photos and chatted about the "transformation" with humans. But soon it was time to go back to the pen and get bloody.

ye olde buckets of blood

the blood line...
We joined a line of zombies trudging slowly toward a splattered tarp and some muddy ground, where one of the artists reached into a 5-gallon bucket and threw handfuls of red, sticky goo at each of our fronts and backs. The splat -- when it hit you -- was cold, and surprisingly gelatinous. Clearly not just corn syrup -- it must have had some gelatin in it. But it was sticky an somewhat uncomfortable. Ewwww.

blood thrower!
Shortly thereafter we received our zombie instructions. First the obvious -- no actual human flesh eating. Some zombies threw up their hands and stormed out. (Just kidding.) Then some talk about basic safety -- no tackling, punching, biting, etc. We were also told to look out for overly aggressive humans, and that if we saw -- or experienced -- a human hitting or knocking down a zombie, we were supposed to report it to the course monitors. In either case, the offender would be removed from the course and escorted off the property.

life flag
Then we were told that we also had to let some of them live. (Zombie groans and grumbles.) Each human is issued a belt with three "life flags" attached to it, which they wear while running the race. The belt is kind-of like a flag football belt, with vinyl flags attached with strips of velcro. Zombies are scattered along the course in various zones, and our job is to try and take the flags from the humans. Humans who finish the race with at least one life flag receive a "survived" medal, while other runners receive an "infected" medal. But, because humans are sad when they don't "survive", we zombies were instructed to let some people live.

We had guidelines... in the first mile, or zones 1-4, zombies could take no more than one flag. Scare the humans, sure... let them feel like they had outrun a zombie, sure... but keep 'em alive. Zones 5-8 (the second mile) could go for a second flag, but not take anyone's last flag. And for those of us in zones 9-12, we could take last flags... but not on every human.

Eventually we were split into our zones and walked out to the course. We were told not to get greedy and take any flags while we were en route to our zones... and at one point a large "herd" of us had to cross the course while a few humans were running... and I heard one say, "Oh, wow. That's so unfair."But we let him live...

Our zone was the dirt hills that we had seen earlier. Convenient for us, though it would have also been fun to see some of the other parts of the course. Suz and I were sent with another two zombies to a flat spot at the top of a small hill. As stumblers, we weren't allowed to chase the humans, and the chasers in the flat just before our hill weren't allowed to chase humans up the hill.

We took our positions and waited. After a few minutes, our first few humans came stumbling through. My first thought was how tired they all looked -- how muddy, tired, and frankly defeated they looked. Even just running up the little hill to our perch seemed to totally gas people out. Not that that stopped us from launching attacks.
(maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh...)

I don't know which of us got the first flag... but soon each of us had several. I'm not gonna lie -- there was some zombie high-fiving going on... and I don't think I was alone in letting out a war whoop after one particularly satisfying grab. Sometimes I would lunge at a human who would change direction - right into Suz's path. Sometimes Suz set them up for me. It was pretty fun. Some of the humans gave up their flags really easily -- others were bound and determined to hold on to them. Some humans essentially cheated by putting on their belts under long shirts, so the flags were mostly hidden. Still others decided to wear their flags in what the organizers described as the "swimsuit area", thinking that that would deter zombies. Well, no...

A few humans tried to hold on to their flags with their hands -- but the course marshalls were clear about this -- humans couldn't just grab and hold their own flags. Some humans were smart, gathering in groups before running though a zombie area. Some teams actually organized themselves so that humans with flags were protected by those who had lost theirs. (Smaaart.) Other humans got more aggressive and pushy. Some hit out pretty hard trying to keep us away from their flags. Others almost tackled zombies.

I don't want to imply that the zombies were all pillars of the community... one of the chasers near us was overly aggressive and frequently broke the zombie rules. But for the most part, the zombies seemed to be having a good time. Our little group even encouraged "lifeless" humans who passed us, telling them they were in the last mile and that they were doing great. Sometimes when we took someone's last flag, our group would quietly chant "one of us... one of us...". Hilarious.

So we happily hunted for about an hour. But at one point, while pulling a flag, I felt a sharp pain and then nothing. After pocketing the flag, I looked at my left hand.

I don't have a picture... but.. well... basically my ring finger wasn't straight anymore. Somewhere below the top knuckle it took a strange left turn. I couldn't figure out, at first, what was going on. I mean, why was my finger shaped like that?

Then I think my inner child kicked in... and I thought, "Oh, wow.. that's broken. I have to fix it, or I'll get in trouble."

So I reached down with my right hand and pulled my finger straight.

My initial thought was, "Well, okay, I fixed that. I totally just fixed that."

But then something wiser in me said, "Umm, no. It's still wobbly."

I should quickly point out that all of that happened in about 3 seconds. I stood there flexing my hand a little... and then turned to Suz and said, "I think I just broke my finger." I think she thought I was kidding... but then looked at me, looked at my hand, and said, "Really?" I'm not sure who said it -- probably clever Suz, though she (as Long-Suffering Friend) may have still been trying to figure out if I was serious -- but I think I said, "I'm taking my ring off and putting it in the zip pocket of my shorts."

In the intervening days I have A) felt like a total badass for straightening my own finger and B) felt like a genius for remembering to take off my wedding ring before my finger swelled up.

I stood around for a few minutes, sorta wondering what to do. As a rule follower, I felt weird about leaving before my zombie shift was over. (Yeah, I know. Dumb.) But I decided that -- if Suz didn't mind -- I'd quite like to go to the medical tent, please.

We said our farewells to our fellow zombies and made our way to a young race official. I said, "Hi... I broke my finger." He looked, said, "Do you want me to call someone?" and when I said, "Well, I just figured I should tell someone that I was leaving my post early." He then fiddled with his radio and called in a "WHITE FLAG... ZONE FOUR... BROKEN FINGER..."

We stood there for a few minutes while I felt increasingly stupid. Suz suggested we could just walk to the medical tent, seeing as it was next to the Zombie Transformation Center. The official hesitated, but when I assured him I could walk there unaided, said that he'd tell whoever turned up that we had gone to the tent.

On the way there Suz spotted an official-looking guy talking into a radio. I thought I heard him say "White flag", so I asked him if he was looking for a zombie with a broken finger. He took a look at my hand and said, "Yep... Let's go."

The staff in the med tent were friendly, sympathetic, and helped me immediately. They splinted my finger and tied it to my pinkie so I wouldn't move it too much. They also told me I should see a doctor, but that I could wait until Monday rather than go to an emergency room or urgent care.

We then went to the zombie tent to check out. As we were walking, Suz and I were wondering if we would still get our shirts, medals, and "drink token", or whether we would have been disqualified somehow. But I figured that they would at least give me a freakin' medal.

But of course, they were cool. They gave us our sweet shirts, "infected" medal, and -- because this event was a dry event, and one of the zombie perks was meant to be a free beer -- a $5 merch token. Now, I didn't need a koozie, a shot glass, or sticker... but they did have a sweet comic book that I thought Wil might enjoy.

Run For Your Lives 5K Infected Medal
We headed to the car, chatting with the next round of zombies-to-be who were lined up outside of the ZTC, and telling them to watch out. As we walked, we both admitted that, other than the broken finger thing, we were pretty much happy with the way the day turned out... that we were both pretty much happy to be done being zombies.

Back at the car we took off some of the icky stuff... I had brought garbage bags, into which I shoved my bathrobe and nightgown. My muddy shoes and socks I put in another bag -- I was keeping those.

So I know what you're thinking.... WHAT ABOUT THE FINGER???

1 comment:

  1. With regards to your finger, I believe I made the astute observation of "it looks like it's swelling" and you had the foresight to remove your ring.

    I loved my zombie cheekbones. Not so much the scrubbing required to remove the fake blood.