With the countless reports recently documenting a "zombie apocalypse" extending from the face-eating incident in Miami, Fla. to a Texas man who ate his pet dog, the mass hysteria has catapulted itself to the latest trendy fad: "Zombie Races."
Conceptualized by Reed Street Productions, fans of zombies will flock to locations nationwide for "Run For Your Lives," recently profiled by The Wall Street Journal. "Run For Your Lives" is the first-of-its-kind "zombie infested 5K obstacle course race running from brain-hungry, virus-spreading, bloody zombies," according to the website. Fusing obstacle courses with zombie-themed soirees, "Run For Your Lives" is a unique experience where people gather dressed as zombies complete with fake blood to compete in a maze obstacle course-style race similar to Capture the Flag and, in return, get a free beer at the afterparty.
Owen Fletcher of the Wall Street Journal described the latest trend in depth:
"Runners wade through pools of fake blood, duck under electrified wires and try to avoid letting zombies steal their 'health flags' worn on a belt around the waist. A runner with no flags left is ruled dead-or is it undead?-and isn't eligible for awards at the end of the five-kilometer race. Crossing the finish line alive is no small feat: Only about 20% of racers make it with at least one of their three flags left."
"Zombies come up with their own outfits, but organizers do their makeup, including pale skin, sunken eyes and fake blood-a mix of corn syrup, cornstarch and food coloring-splashed on their clothes. Adhesive plastic molds and red goo give some zombies gaping wounds. Zombies preparing for the race here lined up to stand in front of a hanging white sheet and have a makeup artist throw handfuls of blood on their backs and chests before they set out to populate a 70-acre course rigged with water pits, log barriers and monkey bars."
According to the website, zombies in the race "are split into two groups. 'Chasers' run after racers to grab their flags, while 'stumblers' are supposed to 'crawl, shuffle, drag, or perform any other type of slow movement in order to horrify runners and take their flags."
Winners are awarded with zombie merchandise - a keychain, a Run For Your Lives T-shirt and drawstring bag. All those who "survive" can "celebrate the end of times at the Apocalypse Party, with food, music, and beer" for free.
White Marsh, Md.-based company Reed Street Productions came up with the idea for the races.The first was held near Baltimore and had over 12,000 competitors enrolled. Having brought in a boatload of money with the races, the company -- run by two 20-something friends -- will extend the races to 13 cities nationwide this year: Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Indiana, Colorado, Washington, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Maryland, Texas and Toronto.
"We came up with the name, and we said, 'Well, what do people run from?' We figured zombies was going to be a pretty popular idea," co-founder of "Run For Your Lives" Derrick Smith told the WSJ.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Reed Street Productions said it will likely bring in $18.8 million for the races this year, as it costs $87 to participate. Next year, it hopes to double the amount of races, and naturally, the profits.
Check out the "Run Four Your Lives" website to see if a city near you will have a zombie apocalpyse and to register for $87.