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Horror Fans/Fitness Enthusiasts Flock to Zombie Themed 5K

I was a tad confused and semi concerned when I started reading my friends posts on Facebook a few days ago. “Going to battle zombies” and “15 hours until the apocalypse” were just two of the cryptic messages my friend happened to post during the week. I didn’t know whether she was going to a zombie movie marathon or if the inevitable zombie plague had finally started.

Zombie 2K

Much to my surprise (and disappointment that I wasn’t going to get to battle the undead with a chainsaw), it turns out my friend was prepping for a zombie 5K taking place outside of Pittsburgh in Butler, Pennsylvania. This 5K obstacle race, Run For Your Lives, is sort of like the Tough Mudder for horror fans. It’s a race, it has obstacles, but there’s a catch. While you’re running, crawling, climbing, and diving your way through the course, you’re also avoiding bloodthirsty zombies.

Okay, okay. They’re not real zombies (not yet.), but other runners. And in place of your brains, these zombies are after flags. Each participant in Run For Your Lives receives a flag belt before the start of the race: one hangs on the left hip, one on the right hip, and one on the back.

In order to make it through the race “alive,” each participant must make it back to a Safe Zone and cross the finish line with at least one of their health flags left. For those that get flags taken away, organizers place “health packs” containing flags around the course for life renewal.

Each wave of participants consists of 350 to 450 people. With an age requirement of just 14, participants include teenagers, college kids, and thirtysomething geeks.

Along with the race, Run For Your Lives hosts an Apocalypse Party featuring games, celebrity appearances, booze, food, music, and more. Whether or not you make it through the race alive, you’ll be able to chill out and talk George Romero with other zombie fans.

As of summer 2012, Run For Your Lives is offered in six US cities: Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Diego, Baltimore, Orlando, Austin and Butler. With the popularity of shows like “The Walking Dead” and video games like “Dead Island,” it’s likely Run For Your Lives will be showing up in even more major cities sometime in the near future. The event currently boasts 871,000 likes on Facebook, so it’s clearly a hugely popular event.

With Halloween just around the corner, now’s the perfect opportunity to live out your nightmarish fantasies. Obstacles races are exciting, adrenaline-pumping activities to begin with. Throw in a simulated zombie horde and you’ve got a killer cardio activity on your hands. The Butler/Pittsburgh event was the first of the six, so if you’re near any of the other cities, you’ve still got time to join.

It’ likely we’ll never experience a real zombie invasion and get to see the mall overrun with bloodthirsty ghouls. If you want to know what it’s like to burn calories getting chased around by a zombie clown, here’s your chance.

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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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