Durban's first Zombie Run

On Saturday, 30 November, I took part in Durban’s first ever Zombie Run (Facebook event page here). Like all inaugural events there were some small niggles but overall the experience - organised by - was loads of fun; and I hope it will return next year with even more locals overcoming the city’s typical apathy to participate.

The rules of the Zombie Run are simple:
  1. Register as either a human or zombie.
  2. Zombies take up positions along the 5km route with the goal of catching and “turning” human runners. They accomplish this by pulling off the 2 flags that runners wear tucked into their clothes, and which represent their lives.
  3. Runners must complete the 5km trail run with all their lives intact. This is done by dodging zombies, and completing a couple of very basic obstacles designed to impede progress (e.g. scurrying under a net). Even if a runner is turned, they can still finish the race.
  4. Some runners were also lucky enough to receive water pistols and immunity bracelets at random at the start of the race. The former could be used to repel zombies while the latter meant that the runner could not be turned.

Your R180 entry fee included a rather nifty T-shirt and an ice lolly at the finishing line, with professional make-up artists on hand to help participants with their Z-face.

Durban’s Zombie Run started at the Green Hub on the banks of the Umgeni River, by Blue Lagoon. Participants crossed the Umgeni River Bridge, ran on a path through the mangroves and then popped out on the road by the Bird Park, before running on the sidewalk back to the start.

I’d estimate that there were about 200 participants, if that, in the first ever Durban Zombie Run. While the zombies tended to be the most impressive in terms of costuming (standouts included a prison jumpsuit zombie, undead Santa and top hat wearer) I do think that the humans had the most fun.

Unlike the zombies who basically stayed in one place and jumped out at runners, the humans faced ambush time and time again – replicating the thrill of a “real” zombie apocalypse. Strategy became vital. You could charge the zombies as a crowd; venture off the path where you became harder to chase; hang back so the zombies were distracted or tired out by the first wave of humans; or even shelter behind someone with a water pistol.

This said, it was VERY difficult to end the run with all of your lives intact. Even when you regained one at the half-way point.

For the record, the event was more of a fun run than anything else. As a human you could pretty much walk the entire trail with the exception of the zombie encounters where bursts of speed and dodging abilities were paramount.

At the end of the race, the handful of survivors went into a lucky draw for small prize hampers, while zombies competed for the most lives/flags taken.

A few gripes on the day included runners who cheated by hiding their flags or tying them on, which made them damn near impossible for the zombies to grab. And while the event was non-contact, a couple of people were tripped or tackled, although that could be put down to an adrenalin-charged, unthinking over-reaction. The route was also arguably too narrow at points, forcing people to move in single file or risk something silly like running out into oncoming traffic to escape.

Still, though, the overall experience was great fun and the funniest story of the day relates to a non-participating runner who found herself on the same route. Although she laughed about it afterwards, she shrieked mightily when a couple of (later very apologetic) zombies leapt out the bush at her…

See more photos from the 2013 Durban Zombie Run here.


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