I am a big fan of zombies. I’ve watched all the movies and the shows. Walking Dead, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days, and the like. So when a friend told me about his run on an actual Zombie 5K, I was both excited and scared out of my mind. It’s one thing to hear about how awesome it is to be chased by the living..well living, but another thing entirely to contemplate doing it yourself. I mean I know the people are in make up, but imagining myself being chased through the woods in the dark wasn’t my usual take on “fun”.
So when the DFW Zombie 5K started advertising an obstacle course of zombie filled fun, the only way to quell any anxiety was to bring all my friends with me. Survival in numbers. I signed up for the 5K mid-January and marked my calendar for March 9. Back then, I began seriously training for my run. With the help of friends and the wonderful Katy Trail, I was able to progress from running nothing to running almost 3 miles in a short 7 weeks. I felt ready. Ready enough to survive at least half the race.
The 5K boasted 4 different kinds of zombies to run from: crawlers, walkers, runners, and transition zombies [runners that turned into zombies]. A medal and other free swag were promised at the end of the race and the 5K would be hosted at night in Fort Worth.
Day of the race
The weather was miserable. Cloudy and rainy. Couldn’t ask for better potential of a real life nightmare. After the 40 minute drive to Fort Worth, my friends and I were greeted with absolutely chaos. Everything was……unorganized. From sign in, to getting the flag belts that would count as our lives, to not even getting our free beer. While I am sure the organization suffered from lack of volunteers and organization and angry participants, it was still an overall decent experience.
My friends and I were lucky enough to sign up for the first wave. With enough daylight out to run the course, we didn’t have to run in complete darkness. There were no guides on the trail, no lighting, and no obstacle courses, but plenty of zombies. The zombies did a great job chasing people and scaring the sh*t out of all of us. I never ran so fast in my life and using what skills I have in flag football to evade giving up my flags was actually a lot of fun.
All I wanted was my survivors medal and I only needed one flag left to get one. After all the sprinting I did, I darn well deserved one. Zombies would ran at us, follow us, jump out of bushes and trees and hide behind pillars. Some would pretend to be walkers and then outright chase you down. That in itself was a great experience.
Needless to say, there weren’t any real obstacle courses that were promised. With no guidance of where to run, runners found themselves playing follow the leader as some crossed the rocky waterway of the Trinity River. I had enough light out to do it, but I do recall reading about a woman drowning in that same river not so long ago. I can’t imagine the runners for the later waves trying to cross that in the dark with no supervision nearby. Turns out, it wasn’t even a part of the race and the Fort Worth police shut down the the whole operation anyway.
Before the run was actually shut down, the DFW Zombie Run facebook page was assaulted with angry comments from participants asking for a refund and describing their dissatisfaction in so many color ways about the race. The page no longer shows the comments, but there is an apology for how horribly the race went along with a promise for compensation and the free t-shirts and medals that were promised. I suppose we shall see if they make good on that promise.
In the end, it was still a great experience. A successful run (I was lucky enough to get my free swag AND survive the race), friends, and good food in the beautiful city of Fort Worth. Next year, I probably won’t be doing this run again. Instead, I’d probably try the Run For Your Lives zombie run. Regardless, I’d recommend a run like this for anyone who loves a good scare while burning calories. It’s definitely something different.
WFAA actually covered the aftermath of this zombie apocalypse. Read it here.