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    Tales of the Misfit Athlete: Zombies just want to have fun

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    I always thought that if a zombie apocalypse took place, I’d be well-prepared. I watch George Romero movies, read World War Z and can do the dance from Michael Jackson’s Thriller with accuracy.

    So when I saw that Algonkian Park in Sterling was hosting the Run Zombie Run 5k, I was interested.

    The Run Zombie Run race is a 5k obstacle course through the Halloween Woods in Algonkian Park. Competitors are given flag belts, similar to those used in flag football, with three flags to wear during the race. Zombies are located throughout the course and in lieu of biting the runners, they attempt to pull the flags. If you cross the finish line with at least one flag, you survived the zombie apocalypse.

    I ran in an early heat, at around 9:15 so besides fearing for my well-being, I was also cold and wearing a sweatshirt. I was about half a mile in and had scaled a wall and some haystacks before I hit the first wave of the undead. I circumvented the path and skipped over some debris in the forest to preserve all three of my flags.

    But about a mile in, I was swarmed. There were Army zombies, firemen zombies, doctor zombies (the zombies are better employed than I am) and I couldn’t avoid them. I lost a flag.

    I exited the forest and then proceeded to run beside the Potomac River. A running zombie (which, as a zombie expert, I must say is unrealistic) caught up beside me and continued his pursuit, despite my NFL-style stiff arm I gave him. Two miles in and I was down two flags. At this rate, I would be zombie-brunch in no time.

    The next test was the Algonkian soccer fields, which were overrun with hoards of the undead. The first zombie I encountered I dodged with a spin-move, then tripped on some overgrown weeds, falling down. The zombie felt bad that I looked so uncoordinated, so she declined to pull my final flag.

    From there, I tailed behind some other runners, allowing them to distract the undead whilst I whisked by. When the apocalypse hits, it’s every man for himself.

    I treasured my remaining flag like the Golden Fleece as I finished the last half mile of the race. The end seemed easier; the zombies were scant and it was mostly just the joy of running through the woods in a soaking wet sweatshirt after being sprayed by a fire truck hose. I’m not sure how that relates to the apocalypse but evidently when society disintegrates and the dead begin to rise, your local fire department is just going to go around spraying pedestrians.

    I crossed the finish line alive, but quickly abandoned my remaining flag in favor of some face paint to join the zombie hoards.

    Being a zombie was as fulfilling as avoiding being a zombie. I hid in the woods about a half mile into the race, jumping out to scare runners and then chasing them to pull off a flag. For every flag I pulled, my self-worth increased exponentially.

    I also grabbed a lot of butts accidentally. To those people, I’m sorry. I scared one guy so badly, he tripped and fell on branch. I’m sorry for that, too.

    But for all the effort to avoid the zombie bite, I felt much more satisfied chasing after my prey than running from it. And this is coming from a vegetarian.

    So remember, when there’s no more room in Hell and the dead walk the Earth: Zombies have more fun.

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