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When you're instructed to run for your life in what might as well be a tryout for the zombie apocalypse you take the instructions with a grain of salt.
That is until you realize that some of these zombies are the 28 Days variety. No, I don't mean they spew blood at you, but they are fast, aggressive and fit.
Before my team started the Ready, Set, DIE 5-kilometre zombie obstacle course Saturday at Polson Pier we talked to one young survivor whose knee was skinned when an eager zombie took him to the ground.
This made the stakes a tad higher than we had originally planned. It also was not the first sign that things were less than safe at the race.
There were no police blocking traffic and runners were instructed to stay on the sidewalk or risk losing a life, which made sense in the context of the rules of the race because runners had three red ribbons or "lives" attached to their belts that could be taken by zombies. Ironically, it was also inadvertently a real life warning because traffic was still moving all around the course.
Oh yeah, and then there was the part of the race that went through an active construction site and the added bonus that an event for Heart and Stroke prominently featured a poutine food truck at the finish line.
No matter, it all contributed to the ridiculous nature of the race.
And then there were baby zombies, which while hysterically funny are scarier than you think and the first flesh-eater you meet is pint-sized and hungry.
After that heart racing experience, and passing a man who looks like he just warped in from the scene of Mad Max walking on stilts in a Jason-style mask, you reach the obstacles. They range from physically demanding sprints while carrying screaming, creepy cabbage-patch-kid-style dolls to a game of tug of war against fellow survivors.
Then there was the most inexplicable obstacle: the CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) challenge.
Why you would want to resuscitate a corpse in the zombie apocalypse was beyond my team since most of the undead lore holds that once you die it's game over. Adding insult to injury, the person manning our CPR station didn't know how to properly administer CPR. Regardless, we resuscitated our dummy torso with great success and moved on.
After a few run-ins with small packs of hungry flesh eaters we rounded the course toward the finish where the challenge intensified. There was a paintball station to test your marksmanship, a wall to climb, hurdles, and a rope course to test your agility and strength.
Once you reach the end in the so-called safe zone, the final challenges were all about teamwork and involved carrying your supplies to safety.
But how could the race finish without one final scare by the stalking dead. That's right, while you're carrying supplies you're safe, once you put them down, a small pack descends on you until you reach the "sanctuary" of a "medical tent."
There you are declared either survivor or zombie.
While we were told at the beginning to guard our lives because the goal was to finish with an many as possible, there was no ostensible reason for keeping your lives other than it adding some incentive to the race.
My team was hoping for more competition, as in, you survived with so many lives, here have a beer and a poutine on us, but we all felt the fun the race offered was an overall win.
With the confusion of some of the "race officials," unclear obstacles an uncertain course, despite my team being declared survivors, we all felt a little like zombies by the end.