With zombies chasing you, it’s best to run fast

October 21, 2012 

Even if an army of personal trainers and repeated viewings of “Running Brave” aren’t enough motivation to get you running, Kjersten Salzman of Elev8 Fitness thinks she knows what will get you moving.

Zombies.

On Friday, she’s inviting people of all running levels to race through Tacoma in the second Dawn of the Dead Dash.

Ten minutes after the estimated 300 runners begin, the zombies will be unleashed. The winner will be the first person to avoid the living dead and finish the three-mile route.

“This is fun, it’s not what you typically think of when you think of running,” Salzman said. “You aren’t just running a course or running on a hamster wheel. Hopefully it will show people that you can look at fitness in another way.”

Zombie races aren’t a new idea. Similar races are held around the country during the Halloween season. (Olympia’s Zombie Dash is Saturday.) But if you think the phenomenon is going to die anytime soon, think again.

Last year, Salzman got the idea for the Dawn of the Dead Dash after reading an email about a similar run on the East Coast. With just two weeks to go until Halloween, she decided to stage her own version of the race in Tacoma.

It went so smoothly that this year she’s holding another race in Seattle on Saturday. She also staged a race Saturday in Portland, where she expected to approach the race’s limit of 500 runners. “They really like zombies in Portland,” Salzman said.

She’s also been approached about holding races in Los Angeles and Anchorage.

Salzman says the only thing that went wrong with the first event last year was she picked the wrong day – Halloween.

Seems like the perfect night for this kind of race, but apparently trick-or-treating children weren’t delighted to see swarms of adult zombies running through their neighborhood.

Surprisingly, Salzman said, there wasn’t a lot of screaming among the participants.

“There were a lot more guys than girls,” she said. “They make more of a muffled growl sound.”

Zombies aren’t the only way the Dawn of the Dead Dash differs from other fun runs.

There is no set course. You can use public (but not private) transportation. It starts at 7:30 p.m., so it will be dark. And participants, who must be 18 or older, are encouraged to dress like zombies, too.

Thirty minutes before the race, participants will be briefed and given a checkpoint card, glow collar and map.

Once the running starts, racers must make there way to all of the checkpoints (there will be three to five) in order before crossing the finish line. A race official must register your bib number at each checkpoint.

Zombies will run the course and hide at locations along the way, but they are not allowed at the checkpoints. Some zombies will move at the dragging pace you’ve seen in horror movies, but most will run at human speed, so the event website suggests “running like hell.”

If runners are tagged by a zombie they must surrender their glow collar. Without a collar, you will become a zombie once you clear the next checkpoint. Then you’re free to chase other human runners.

Eating brains is prohibited, and, no, you can’t turn back into a human, Salzman said. “How many zombie movies have you seen?” she wrote on dawnofthedeaddash.com. “Once a zombie, always a zombie.”

Because it will be dark, racers are expected to supply and use their own light source.

Prizes are awarded to the top finishers and for the best zombie costumes. A post-race party is open for participants 21 and older.

If the race continues to do well, Salzman says she has ideas for other themed races including runs based on 1980s movies.

“It’s great because you’re there to have fun,” she said, “but you’re also exercising.”

ZOMBIE RUNS

DAWN OF THE DEAD DASH

Tacoma: 7 p.m. Friday

Seattle: 7 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $45-$50

Course: To be determined

Beneficiary: Proceeds from the race go to the YWCA and the Beckwith-Wiedemann Children’s Foundation. Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome is an overgrowth syndrome that increases the chance of cancer.

More info: Go to dawnofthedeaddash.com.

ZOMBIE DASH

Olympia: Saturday at 4 p.m.

Cost: $35-$50

Course: Starts at Marathon Park, Olympia

Beneficiaries: Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids, Heifer International, Shriners Hospitals for Children and The Elks Therapy Foundation.

More info: Go to zombiedash.org.

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via craig.hill@thenewstribune.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys.

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