Well, friends. Remember how I was running from the undead at the Run For Your Lives race yesterday?

They caught me.

This is me, all cocky and happy and…clean, before I left my house:

pre-Zombie race

That t-shirt became more relevant to me not too much later.

This is me, all humbled and cold and filthy after the race—and this was AFTER I hit the shower area:

post-Zombie race

Stimey were people too.

Oh, and then there was this:

I died at Run For Your Lives

Zombie clown, anyone?

So, here’s how the race works: You get a belt that has three flags velcroed to it. Your goal is to get through the race with at least one flag still attached. If you are able to do that, you survive. If the zombies get your flags, you, well, you become like me—undead.

The race is a 5k, but it’s not really about speed, as far as I can tell. There were sections where the path through the woods was packed enough with people that you pretty much had to walk. Then there were sections where I was the only one around. (Also there was that uphill dead end that I followed some people up—and back down.) There were a bunch of obstacles, none of which were too difficult, most of which were incredibly muddy, and one of which was a freezing cold river we had to swim across.

There were zombie zones scattered throughout the race course where there were zombies (obviously) who tried to grab your flags. Once your flags were gone, the zombies would maybe nibble on you, but they were far less interested. To my shame, I discovered this early on. Some of them near the end of the race would give you high fives.

I was there by myself, which was okay. In the zombie apocalypse, friends are dead weight. I’m pretty sure that surly loners do way better. Isn’t that how it always goes in zombie movies? Also, none of my friends were willing to run a zombie-infested obstacle race.

I had signed up for the noon heat (there were start times every 30 minutes) and finished checking in about 20 minutes before the start time, so I headed over to the start line and chose to be an entree.

RFYL start line

Although maybe I should have chosen dessert because I’m so sweet.

The start line consisted of long tunnels with gates over the front of them. It was pretty creepy in there. The dude in front of me in line freaked out because a spider almost touched him. I felt a little bit like I’d found my people.

RFYL start tunnel

Nothing claustrophobic and horrible in here!

You should know that all of the photos here I took later in the day. I wasn’t dumb enough to ruin my electronics by taking them with me. On the course, it was just me, my three flags, and a spider that may or may not have ended up on my shoulder.

The race started, we ran through a fog, and ZOMBIES! This is the bottom of Zombie Zone 1:

Zombie Zone 1

Runners are bunched together here and harder to pick off. Evidently it is easier to hide in a group.

I made it through the first two zombie zones with all three of my flags and I was feeling pretty awesome. I might have gotten a little cocky. Then that zombie nun in zone 3 laid eyes on me and I was her bitch. Flags 2 and 3 were taken pretty quickly after that. See, there was a hill that slowed me down and made me easy pickin’s.

I also almost lost the free drink ticket attached to my bib whilst hurling myself over a chest-high wall, which would have been REALLY devastating.

I spent a good amount of time watching a couple of race sections after my heat and fitness didn’t seem to be the deciding factor in whether you survived or not. I saw a lot of really badass looking runners get stripped of their flags by cunning zombies. I think there was a strong element of luck and maybe an advantage of running with a group. So much for my loner theory.

From there on out, I decided that since I was without flags, I would just try to run the rest of the race, have fun, and kick ass on the obstacles. There was a muddy area and some people wiped out, landing in the mud, much to their chagrin. Looking back on it, it’s kind of cute that they were upset about such a small amount of muddy water considering what was to come.

What was to come was that river, referenced above.

There was no observation area for the river, or I would have taken photos for you, but basically, there was a river that was probably 50 feet across. There was a rope strung across it to hold onto, but the only way across was to jump in and swim. I could almost touch the bottom if I put my feet down, but I just ended up pulling myself across and paddling with my feet.

Ever run a 5k soaking wet? Through mud?


The obstacles were mostly pretty simple. There were some tunnels to climb through, barbed wire to belly crawl under, more walls to go over, mud hills to go up and over only to end up in mud baths at the bottom, and a fogged up building with dangling electric wires you had to avoid. There were also natural obstacles, such as the incredibly steep decline—followed by a similarly steep incline—that we had to maneuver.

By the time we got to the top of that hill, we all looked like staggering zombies ourselves. It was brutal.

I’d like a little extra credit considering that I ran most of this race with dried mud on my hands, which is one of my biggest sensory stressors. I mean, fortunately I was also soaking wet so I had something to wipe them on.

The good people at Run For Your Lives had saved some of the best for last though. Just in case you had dried off, there was one last big slide into a big pit full of muddy water.


RFYL slide

I stood at the top of this thing cursing for a while before I went down it. I ended up completely submerged in the murky water.

Then, just in case the water had cleaned all the mud off of you, the very last obstacle was a muddy belly crawl under an electric fence. I learned two things at that obstacle: (1) My elbows are surprisingly strong body-pulling hooks, and (2) I don’t like electric shocks.

RFYL last obstacle

The tall fence at the right is the top of the obstacle. See the people going under?

After the race, I headed over to the showers, which is a nice way of saying, “pipe with holes drilled into it spraying ice-cold water onto a tennis court.”

The "showers"

The “showers” are that horizontal white pipe on the right. They had the added benefit of making the race course muddy where it ran past the tennis court.

I have never been so happy to stand in a tent and change into dry clothes in front of strangers in my life. Thank God it was a pretty warm day. I can only imagine what it would have been like if it hadn’t been 65 degrees.

I had such a blast. I spent the next two hours taking photos and watching zombies chase runners. It was so much fun. I’m definitely going back next year. Let me know if you want to be part of my mob, so we can try to overpower the zombies en masse.

Also, because I know you find zombies as amusing as I do, I have some photos from the event to show you. Enjoy!

Zombies this way

Warning! Zombie photos ahead!


I liked the zombies who had a sense of humor.


Also those who committed to the part. This guy was actually my favorite zombie.

Algernon and zombies

Algernon enjoyed watching the zombies too.

resting zombies

Even zombies have to take a break.

zombie shift change

I was there for the zombie shift change. I felt bad for the runners who got the fresh zombies. Everyone knows fresh zombies are the fastest.

goodbye, zombies!

Have fun eating the runners, zombies!

donated shoes

Lots of people donated their shoes after the race. What a great idea, huh? I wish I’d known they do this; I have some old shoes I would have loved to get rid of. And then I wouldn’t have had to lug gross, muddy shoes around all afternoon.

Algernon and medal

Algernon didn’t race, but I’m pretty sure he would have survived if he had.


Until next year…

I’m so glad I ran this race. I am endlessly entertained by zombies and I love running, so mixing the two of them together was so much fun for me. I think it is highly likely that I’ll become an obstacle race junkie, but I’m so glad Run For Your Lives was my first.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find some BRAAAAIIIINNNNSSS…

50 thoughts on “Undead

  1. I am so bummed I didn’t do this with you. But, considering the creeping crud I have been getting over if I had tried I may have ended up a real zombie if I had tried.

    Also, I am TOTALLY in for next year!

    P.P.S. That zombie clown made me cry a little

    • Absolutely! You are my wingwoman for next year! You’re right though, this race wouldn’t have been fun if you had the plague.

    • I had alone-on-race-day jitters, for sure. But after I left the tunnel, they disappeared. Then I had zombies-on-race-day jitters.

  2. How fun! I did a Dirty Girl mud run yesterday and I think I was the only one there by myself. Wish I lived closer :) the obstacles in ours didn’t seem quite as intense but it was a total blast. Lines for showers were so long I drove home covered in dried mud.

    • That’s so awesome! I wish you lived closer too. I like to run by myself, but it’s a little weird to go to events like that alone, huh? Someday maybe we can meet for a Tough Mudder in the middle of the country or something. :)

      I’m glad you had fun at your race!!

  3. SO well done you! I am totally in awe of you. I would have had to be dragged there screaming…and carried home crying, or the other way round. I share Quinn’s fear of Zombies by the way. How did you explain what you were going to do to him by the way?

  4. I couldn’t find anyone to run with me and I was too chicken to sign up for by myself. Usually the best part of these kind of races is how everyone helps each other out through the obstacles… (I am so short and can never make it over the walls without a boost) I really thought this one would be fun to do with a group since you can grab onto a live one and cross with them to still be considered alive. I am surprised no one snagged you up into their posse. I would have, Stimey. If I had been brave enough to do this alone, and had been lucky enough to still be alive, I totally would have blobbed up with you to share my life force. (I’m still kind of bummed that they don’t do the zombies in the streets of Silver Spring anymore, which was a really fun tradition.) I hope your family stays safe today. and tomorrow. We have 10 gigantic bags of candy that the kids just found this morning. Should be a really funtime.

    • You…would have shared…your life force? I feel oddly touched by this. :) Thank you! And I would have given you a boost over the walls! There was definitely camaraderie among the runners, but less than I might have expected. I mean, I guess you don’t trust strangers in the zombie apocalypse, right?

      They don’t do the DTSS zombie walk anymore? I went one year and it was a blast! That’s a bummer.

      Good luck with the storm and the sugar rush. Stay safe!

  5. Way to go! Considering that I run like Phoebe from FRIENDS and hate to be touched by people I don’t know–especially creepy zombies– I would have been toast. I do like the obstacle course, though…glad you enjoyed the experience, overall.

    • You absolutely must do this. You can sign up to be a zombie on their website. If you sign up with a group, I think you can all be at the same zone with a theme. It looks like fun.

  6. That looked so fun. Plus, how much weight have you lost?! I don’t think you’d have made a meal for more than 2 zombies in the real apocalypse.

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