Zombie 5Ks: Run (If you Dare)

This is the first column from our new US-based (New York) writer, Ryan Nelson. Ryan will be providing weekly race recaps, interest pieces and more from the world of US athletics. Being in the Halloween spirit, Ryan has chosen to explore the growing popularity of Zombie 5ks in his article below. Enjoy!


A Column By Ryan Nelson for Runner's Tribe

There’s not much that can motivate someone to run faster than the thought of being chased by a real-life zombie. Though we know that these creatures are only part of our dreams (or nightmares), many individuals who organize races have capitalized on their fear-factor to encourage higher participation in charity 5ks. In these races, individuals are chased to the finish line by flesh-eating creatures from the dead. Will you make it in time to be spared? Only your final race time will tell.

Evolution of the Zombie Run

Race organizers are constantly looking for hooks that will entertain not only the runners, but also spectators on the sidelines. Themed runs became a big draw several years ago and it was only natural that the evolution of these runs would turn towards Halloween and the incorporation of zombies. Many of these events go far beyond the actual race and have music, food, and a full-scale Halloween themed after party for runners to enjoy after surviving. What’s even better is that most of these runs are set up to contribute to a wide variety of charities, with all or a portion of the proceeds benefiting crucial health related research. Some of the most popular zombie 5k runs are the “Run For Your Life” event as well as the “5k Run Dead”. These are hosted throughout the country each year and draw thousands of thrill-seekers from all over looking for a unique event to showcase their running abilities.


The Zombie Mud Run

One of the most popular zombie 5ks is the Zombie Mud Run event. This course combines mud, obstacles, and zombies, to provide an exhilarating atmosphere to even the most novice athlete. To add another element of challenge to this race, participants where belts with flags that the zombies try to pull off throughout the course. If you want to survive you have to make it to the finish line with your flags intact. For extra crazy thrill seekers, this course also offers races at night for an extra level of terror. Challenge accepted!

5K Run Dead

This zombie charity run’s proceeds benefit research on both cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, so participants can feel good about their contributions while also fearing for their lives. Though this course doesn’t contain as many obstacles as the Zombie Mud Run, it does carry the flag challenge of making it to the end with at least some of your “health” intact.


Get Running!

Zombie runs encourage people to get outside and participate in an activity that they may not otherwise be motivated to do. They are the perfect combination of entertaining, exhilarating, and terrifying to capture the interest of thousands each year. Check out your local runner’s organization to see if there is a zombie run happening near you. Then, lace up your shoes and bravely walk to the starting line. You’ll make it to the finish…if you’re lucky!