I will admit, I am not part of this whole zombie culture we got going on right now. I just don’t understand the excitement. I do however get excited whenever a new type of race comes to Calgary. A friend of mine (a non runner) and I were talking about the up coming color me rad race that we had recently signed up for. He said he had seen a “really cool” zombie run two weeks before it. So off I went and signed up. Not only did I sign up to run in the race but I also paid the extra fee to be a zombie before hand. A total amount of $90.00 this is a lot more than I would ever normally pay for a race. The website promised a wicked good time. So who was I to judge the high fee.
The website stated that we needed to be on the course for 8am to be zombiefied. Then we would be taken to our section of the course at 10am until noon. The website promised movie quality stage makeup. What actually happened was we were taken into a barn where our faces were rubbed down with white grease paint and then told to stand in front of a tarp so that two guys sprayed us down with red food colored water. We were given the option of drinking a red mouthwash like substance to make it look like blood was coming out of our mouths. I choose not to do this. My friend however did. After being zombie’d by 8.07am. We were told to stand and wait for our group leader to take us up onto the course. Problem was…..we didn’t need to go until 10. So we stood on a gravel pad for nearly 2 hours.
On the website during registration you could sign up as a team. Which Scott and I did. Only to find out we were at different parts of the course. Once more people showed up we realized that our zombie locations were totally random. Our fearless zombie leaders then had to control the 100’s of zombies all wanting to change groups. Poor leaders, they must have really felt like they were in the movies. Zombies coming at them from all directions.
Ok! Nearly 10am!!! After our rules and pep talk two bottles of water and a bag of chips we set off. Up. We figure out that we are at the 2.5km mark of a trail run. what does that mean? We have to walk up a lot of very large hills. I will add that by this point it is getting to be 20 degrees outside already and we had already been standing outside for two hours. We walk, we take breaks, we walk some more. The group eventually makes it to our area. The race begins.
For the next hour and a bit, because I won’t lie. I walked off the course early. I was so hot, dehydrated and heat stroked that frankly I didn’t care that there was another 45 minutes to go before someone relieved us. ANYWAY….. for the next while we chased runners. We were told that if a runner only has one flag left to be nice and let them go by. I let many a runner go through because they lost all their flags by the time they got to us. It’s a crazy thing to see a group of 20 or so runners rush you at once. It must be what a football player feels like. Kinda scary really. The runners figured out that it was better to run as a group then one at a time. Many runners took to slamming into myself and my friend Scott, holding their flags or putting their flags in not so stranger friendly areas. I “junked” a guy or two. I won’t lie. I didn’t do it on purpose of course. But to be honest if you are going to put the flag in between your legs. You get what you get.
Scott and I had down time between being zombies and running we decided to try to track down the I was infected t-shirt that the website had promised all zombies. After a frustrating 20 minutes Scott myself and a few other zombies gave up. We were told we got the same shirt as the runners do as they crossed the finish line. I explained to the many volunteers that we spoke that we were also running later and would get that shirt anyway. The response we received was “well then you don’t get one”. To which I replied with “but I paid to get two different shirts”. That volunteer simply walked away from me. After coming up with nothing but dead ends we figured it was time to get some lunch we went to the many food trucks that were at the course and got some lunch. During our downtime I went back and forth on if I would even bother running. By 2:00pm I was cranky. I was over the whole event. Scott convicnced me to try to do the run. So off I went to the start line. We were told to line up 15 minutes before our heat time. Yeppie more time to sit in the blazing sun.
Time to run..
I began my run with the mind frame of “ok, I’m here. Make the best of it” But after the first set of hills and being almost tackled into a 2×2 piece of wood that lined the course I threw my hands up in the air and for the second time that day walked off of the course. You need to understand I have NEVER walked off a race course. EVER! I sat on the side lines and talked to the second round of zombies for about ten minutes until a volunteer in a golf cart came by and asked me if I wanted a ride to the finish. “sure, why the heck not”. The volunteer explained that the course was over 100 volunteers short and that the organizers had asked all volunteers to enlist their family members to help out the night before. As we drove back we threw “lives” to the runners on the course. That was pretty fun. I will admit.
The volunteer dropped me about 500m to the finish where I came across a few zombies. I said I am injured to not come at me and that I would give them a flag to leave me alone. I handed one of my flags to one of the zombies. Next thing I know I am being chased down. Keep in mind I wasn’t racing anymore. But when a scary looking zombie comes at you, your fight or flight kicks in and you run. I yelled over my shoulder, “I’m not running and I gave you guys my flag”. Her response was “f*ck that! It’s one flag per zombie”. I pushed on to out run her.
I crossed the finish line and claimed by “infected” medal. Any race that I have done in the past has always provide a water and a snack of some sort. Not this one, nope if you wanted to hydrate after the run you had to pay $3.00 – $4.00 for a drink. Brutal!
The next day the zombie survivor facebook page was slammed with people giving their feedback about the run. Most negative. I chose to write a personal email to the event organizers instead of posting on Facebook. I listed my issues with the event and some helpful advice even offering my services for the next year. I have not heard a word from them. I hope that it being the first year of the event that the organizers will take the words of all the runners, good and bad and make improvements to the race. I am excited to run the event next year and see all the improvements.