Soldiers run for their 'lives'; zombies in pursuit
March 15, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers run for their lives, zombies in hot pursuit.
The starting gun fires, signifying the beginning of a race, a gate is pulled back as several runners take off at a breakneck pace. They are trying to get some distance between themselves and the zombie horde which is hot on their trail.
Soldiers from the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division showed their athletic ability, along with their love or hatred of all things undead, by taking part in the Run for Your Lives 5k Race, which took place March 3, at Union Point, Ga.
The Run for Your Lives Race is a one-of-a-kind, zombie-themed competitive race, where running out of energy or slowing down to catch your breath can have "deadly", fun-filled consequences.
"I got this," said Pfc. Christopher Hacker, a petroleum supply specialist, assigned to Troop D, 5th Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1HBCT. "No 'turning undead' going to happen here." Private First Class Hacker was just one of the many Raider Brigade Soldiers who ran this race.
Ashley Borman, an official with the race crew, said approximately 204 service members registered to participate in this event.
The course took participants through a series of 13 obstacles while being chased by blood-thirsty, ravenous zombies. The zombie stalkers are adorned with authentic, Hollywood style make- up and costumes. The runners can wear whatever they chose, but they must run wearing a flag football-like belt with three flags attached. Each racer must make strategic choices to find the quickest route through, over or under the obstacles to the finish line with at least one flag remaining to complete the race as a survivor. If a racer cross the finish line with no flags remaining, or skips an obstacle, he or she joins the ranks of the undead.
Some Soldiers made the choice to join the ranks of the undead long before they entered the race as zombies.
"I loved being a zombie. It was fun to play the role and have runners react to that," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Knowles, a motor transportation specialist, with Trp. D, 5/7 Cav. "Plus it feels good when people tell you that you're their favorite zombie."
Staff Sergeant Knowles was the one and only chicken zombie on the entire course.
Survivors and newly-created "zombies", were able to celebrate the race at the Post Apocalypse Party, which featured live, local entertainment, music, vendors, food, beverages and brain hungry zombies. A point of interest during this event was a visit by IronE Singleton, who plays "T-Dog" on the critically acclaimed AMC hit show "The Walking Dead," a post apocalyptic zombie-themed TV series.
"It was real cool to see the different vendors, and eat some good food after such a long grueling race," added Pfc. John Allen, a motor transportation specialist, also assigned to Trp. D, 5/7 Cav., who finished the race in 42nd place out of his relay of runners as a zombie, no flags left.
The Run for Your Lives Race started last year in Baltimore, but was so successful that 10 other cities decided to host their own this year. Evidently, outrunning blood-thirsty zombies, and even slowing down to become one of them, is a popular idea of a ghoulishly good time.
"I'm thinking about going up to Maryland to run the race again," said Capt. Mario Carpanzano, the 1HBCT, 3rd ID provost marshal. Captain Carpanzano was one of the only Soldiers or runners to cross the finish line as a human. "I had a blast! It was such a good time."
As the last runner crosses the finish line, exhausted and out of breath, he looks down to count the number of flags he has left on his belt. Much to his dismay, there are no flags remaining. His body begins to burn with the fever, his eyes roll into the back of his head, and in a few short moments he will join the zombie horde, hungry for flesh and blood.