Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seattle Zombie Run race report

Busy weekend! Okay, so it’s Tuesday night and I’m just getting down to writing up the weekend events…

Friday night we went to a little place called Embellished in Edmonds to (attempt to) paint “Starry Night”. Yeah, maybe the fact that I hadn’t painted since… junior high? … should have told me that I shouldn’t start with a Van Gogh masterpiece? Anyway, this is the result:

Starry Night (on the Prairie)
I’m actually pretty happy with it. Suz’s is MUCH NICER.

Anyway, Saturday morning Wil and I ran the Zombie Run in Magnuson Park. Weeks and weeks ago (months and months?) I bought a deal on Zozi for $25 that got both of us in to the race. Why not?

Again, this is the summer of “weird little races” – so a Zombie Run seemed like a great addition to the list.

We arrived a bit early at the park – our “check-in” time, as humans, was a highly civilized 10 am… but being Team Wil-Sun, we got there early… But all that meant was that we got free parking equidistant from the park exit and the race start, we checked in and got our bibs and packets in 2 minutes, and then were able to just hang out and relax for an hour.

Packets were nicely thought out: a shirt (white, sigh), a “zombie survival pack” string bag, a “life belt” and three balloons, and a very funny stretchy terrycloth headband. As usual, I laugh when I see bib numbers at an untimed event… especially when I’m not sure there were course photographers…

We got our stuff, took it back to the car, and got our stuff ready. We inflated our life balloons properly… not just adding a teensy amount of air, the idea being that we could make them harder to pop. C’mon people, play the game right. Whenever I saw people with tiny little balloons, I thought “What tiny lives you have.”

Wil ready to run!
Life balloon (latex free!)

Oh, and of course I can’t forget this… a zombie squirrel. Well, maybe mummified squirrel:

We milled around before the run started. I was surprised at how small the event seemed, though I will say it did seem well organized. Creepy music was playing over the PA, and busloads of zombies were being driven away from the check-in hangar to be distributed around the course.

A few minutes before 11 a helicopter flew over. People seemed to think it was a news helicopter, but it clearly wasn’t – no branding. But boy oh boy do people like the idea of getting on the tv news… (So weird!) The entire time we were running, the helicopter circled overhead, lending a slightly creepy, intense feeling to the day. (Honestly, this was cool. I promise. )

Starting chute -- note the life balloons on the humans
We got into the starting chute and waited. Apparently check-in was taking longer than expected (oh, humans, when they say to arrive at 10, please don’t arrive at 10:55… ). A blood-splattered scientist took up a megaphone and started to tell us about the outbreak… a load of chemicals were spilled, which triggered a zombie virus. Or something like that. We were told that there would be “safe zones” at each mile, where we could recharge our life balloons and get some water before continuing on.

Some more creepy music, a few more buzzes from the helicopter, and then we were sent out to fend for ourselves…

Race Face!!!!
The first kilometer or so we just trotted along. Possibly my favorite part of the run was this sign:

A little ways past the sign we came to what I had, in my mind, imagined as a flipped tanker truck, but was actually a UHaul rental pickup and some large plastic barrels on the ground next to it… the chemical spill. Oh. But they had two “workers” next to it with megaphones, imploring everyone to turn back because there were zombies ahead, and warning everyone about the danger.

Being brave… or foolish… we continued on. As we entered a little patch of trees, we saw them – our first zombies. The path was pretty narrow and the runners were still really bunched up, but the zombies weren’t too aggressive and it was easy for us to avoid them. But I could hear the popping of life balloons as we darted from side to side to avoid the zombies.

As we continued along, there were more and more clumps of zombies along the trail. I managed to keep all my balloons up to the first safe zone, though Wil lost one in a wide space with a lot of fast-moving zombies. This was the best part of the course, I think – lots of fast zombies in a large space with what looked like airplane tail fins – the zombies and runners could hide a bit.

Humans who lost their lives pretty much stopped running and just walked until they reached a safe zone and could get more life. I'm not gonna lie -- sometimes we used these dead humans to block the zombies...

life-less humans
At the first safe zone Wil picked up a replacement balloon and we slurped down some water. It was getting hot – almost 11:30 by this point – and I was weirdly sweaty. Maybe because of the sweatband???

We headed out and immediately were set upon by a horde of zombies. I had my hair in a ponytail and while a zombie was grabbing for a balloon, he got a fistful of hair instead. OUCH!!! Now, I almost always have 2 or 3 extra hairbands on my wrist. Today? None. Dangit. When we got to a slightly less zombied zone I tried to just knot it on top of my head, with little success. A more secure up-do would have to wait till the next safe zone…

Wil lost his life balloons, but managed to scavenge a bit of life when we saw an unpopped balloon on the ground. I lost two of three before we made it to the second safe zone. We were allowed one balloon each in the safe zone, I had some more water, and then knotted my hair and tried to secure it with the one hairband I had.

Then we were back in it – with just over a mile to go to safety (aka the finish line) and two life balloons each. The paths were narrow, and riddled with zombies. We approached a tunnel. Outside a man in combat fatigues stood with a megaphone telling everyone that there were heavy concentrations of zombies ahead. As we tried to get through the narrow tunnel, we both lost our remaining life balloons. But, I think, we died heroically so that our fellow runners might live. At one point Wil let out a bloodcurdling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”, which made all the zombies – and a lot of humans – freeze. Ha!

The remaining kilometer was more gentle for us because we didn’t need to keep sprinting or dodging. I actually managed to take a few zombie pics. Best zombie of the day? The sweet one handing out flowers. I assume he had been a vegetarian when he was a human…

We noticed that very few humans had any life balloons left as we hit the home stretch. One woman had one stuffed under her shirt. Yeah, okay honey, so you “survived”, but was that really the point?

It was hot, we were antsy, and most people were still on the course when we finished… so we decided to just head home. We did, however, stop at the Violet Sweet Shoppe on the way home since we were over on that side of town. So very yum!

Nice things about this race: clever swag bags, efficient packet pickup, nice additional merch. I also feel like I got a good workout because there was a lot of short sprints and side-to-side motion. Lots of stuff I don’t do all that often. Oh, and the sweet headband was hilarious.

Room for improvement: I believed the hype. I thought it would be more built-out than it was. I honestly expected a tanker truck on its side. Yeah, okay, I now realize that this was unrealistic. But still. I wanted a more immersive experience.

Next weekend Suz and I are doing Run For Your Lives as zombies – can’t wait to see what it’s like on the other team!

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