Something I had dreamed of doing for quite some time finally presented an opportunity this year… which is running a Zombie 5K. Until this year, I didn’t feel confident in the idea of running a 5K, and while I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the entire way, I had always joked that the only way I would run is if something was chasing me. This was an excellent way to put that into practice and have a great time while I was at it, and I eagerly signed up for the Walking Deadwood Zombie 5K race in Deadwood, SD.
What is a Zombie 5K
While each individual race differs, the essential concept is that runners wear flag football belts while running the course, which is usually speckled with obstacles, such as tire walls, wading through creeks, crawling through mud, etc. In addition, they will have to sprint through hoards of zombies that attempt to steal your flags. The zombies are usually cautioned that they cannot gang up on runners, and that while they can run at runners when they approach, they are not allowed to chase, or to run more than a few steps at a time.
On this particular day, I was a bit anxious as it was my first ever 5K. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but I’m not a runner and I wasn’t quite sure what I had just gotten myself into. As the 2 p.m. run time approached, the cool weather took a dip to the mid 50’s, the rain drizzled on and off, and the wind picked up to a brisk pace that cut through clothes.
My anxiety began to dissipate however as I waited at the starting line and began chatting with other runners. One woman was a marathoner back for her first race after a torn hamstring. Another group of two moms and the their children dressed in costumes, and they were armed with gummy zombie fingers to bribe their way past the hungry zombies.
I started off the race, moving through the mud pits and obstacles that made up the first part of the race and pushed through and a slow jog until reaching the first “hoard.” As I sprinted past the first rush of zombies at full bore, it quickly became clear to me that running this like a normal 5K was not the way to survive the race with any intact flags.
Walking up a steep hill(Deadwood is in a valley) trying to catch my breath, I slowed to wait for the next group of people to catch up to me before sprinting through the waiting hoard ahead. I quickly determined that normally running the race was indeed not the right way to approach it if your wanted to survive, as most of the runners who ran consistently through the race and passed us as we walked between hoards had been relieved of all flags. My group strategically placed those without flags in front to distract zombies who would momentarily target them before realizing they were already out, and also gave the rest of us a chance to dart around them before they could switch directions.
Even with boughts of walking in between each hoard, I ran at least half of the full course, including plenty of army crawling, ditch climbing and crossing a freezing stream. I completed the course in around 45 minutes and had 2 flags, meaning I was a survivor of the zombie apocalypse.
Look at that lovely halo of frizz! Ain’t no time for product in the apocalypse!
Running had kept me warm, but my soaked shoes and sweat damp clothes quickly chilled me to the bone. Most of the casinos on Main Street Deadwood are highly priced, so we found a lovely little hotel out of the way. These hotels often have smaller casinos within them, and great drink prices to encourage guests to spend some money there as well. I went down to the deserted hot tub and while reading a book, Damir periodically brought me glasses of wine while I read in solitude. It was the perfect way to recoup from the race.
First matter of business was taking off my completely soaked shoes. My feet were freezing!
We ventured out to a small Bar & Grill in Lead called Lewie’s, which is a favorite place for me to visit when I am in the hills. Nothing incredibly special, but it has excellent burgers and bar fare.
Finally, we went downtown to enjoy drinks at Mavericks, above the Gold Dust casino where we met up with a friend who had relocated a year prior, then finally made it back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
Overall, it was a great time! I can’t wait for my next 5K (JK, sorta dreading it) but I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for more Zombie races in the area.