Recently, a team of four brave souls participated in a Run For Your Lives--Zombie race in Seattle, WA. Our mission, to traverse a challenging obstacle course through hundreds of walking and running dead while protecting three red flags hanging from a belt around our waists. The zombie's mission, to grab our flags before we crossed the finish line, thus making us one of them.
While there were many lessons learned during this event, they can be grouped into three main after action report (AAR) items.
Conditioning: Make sure you are physically prepared. Our race was held on a BMX race course. Hazard flagging was strung along the outside perimeters of the trail, with zombies lurking right up to that line. Running off course in a cross country trek isn't an option, you must run the gauntlet with the rest of the stampede. For those of you who haven't seen a BMX course, picture hills so steep you have to use your hands to scramble up them. Then imagine that every five feet or so are horizontal lines of zombies waiting for you--and they aren't trying to get up the hill. Some of these zombies are runners, and some are walkers, but their common motivation is an insatiable desire for your flags. You better believe you're going to be sucking air trying to get up and around them.
Weather: Pull a NOAA weather statement for the date/time of your race. Being from out of the area, I should have done this. If I did, I would have pushed the group for an earlier start time. I didn't. I also stopped looking at the car thermometer when it hit 100 degrees. Who cares after that point? It was Africa hot, and as dreaded, I'd soon lean that I didn't pre-hydrate nearly enough.
Battle Dress: Test out your running attire before combat. My chosen ensemble was a pair of long, flared cuff running pants. Crawling on your hands and knees through 20 yard mud trenches meant I emerged with mud coated pants that were several times heavier. They also flapped around my ankles and threatened to trip me up with each evac and evasion maneuver.
I'd like to say everyone made it out alive, but in reality, our group had a 50% survival rate. Looking around, we were fortunate, other groups weren't nearly so lucky. I'd like to think that had something to do with our, 'take one for the team,' mentality. When two of us died, (yes, during mile two I succumbed to my injuries) we became the sacrificial lambs for the rest of the team. Coming up on a horde of zombies in the path, we would preplan a left or right hand run pattern with our team mates. Then we'd head in first so the zombies would give us chase, and our uninfected team mates could run an opposite pattern with less heat. It wasn't perfect, but it gave the survivors a fighting chance.
3. Go for the Gold
Aggression of action. I add this in, because thinking back, there was an individual who had strategy worth mentioning. He came at the zombies like they came at him. As if in a game of pigeon, he'd head straight for zombies, crazy in his eyes. Probably fearing an NFL type collision, the zombies would peel off at the last moment, and this guy would run through unscathed. Now, I'm not saying this tactic would work for everyone, I'm 5'4", so my psycho isn't going to be nearly as impressive as his 6', brick shit house attack.