The Walking Dead

Fit for travel? Think zombies

July 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM ET

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Run For Your Lives is a race series that challenges runners with a 5K obstacle course of mud, fake blood -- and zombies.

In need of some motivation to maintain your exercise regimen while traveling? You could seek out like-minded running buddies, find a local gym or hit the techno playlist on your iPod.

Or, if you’re in one of several U.S. cities in the coming months, you could try to complete a 5K obstacle course race while being chased by zombies. After all, there’s nothing like trying to avoid having the undead eat your brains to get your butt in gear.

That’s the premise of Run For Your Lives, a race series that challenges runners to navigate muddy culverts, tanks of fake blood and other creepy obstacles while racing against the clock and legions of flesh-munching ghouls. Upcoming events include Lakewood, Colo. (July 14), Onalaska, Wash. (Aug. 4) and Wright City, Mo. (Aug. 18).

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Runners who cross the finish line with at least one flag in their belt are considered "alive."

The 12-race series was brought to life by Derrick Smith and Ryan Hogan, a pair of Baltimore-based entrepreneurs and fans of the post-apocalyptic TV show “The Walking Dead.”

“We wanted to create an obstacle course race and were thinking about what people would run from,” said Smith. “It was probably two or three episodes into the first season of the show and zombies just made sense.”

To animate their apocalyptic vision, Smith and Hogan staged their first event last October outside Baltimore. Runners were equipped with flag-belts — think flag football — and turned loose in waves. In addition to traversing assorted natural obstacles, they also faced several hundred zombies bent on eating their flesh.

Just kidding — the zombies really only wanted their flags. Runners who successfully completed the course with at least one of their three flags intact were considered “alive;” those that had lost them all to the undead horde were deemed “dead,” although they were still expected to finish the race before turning into zombies themselves.

“We thought it would be a one-and-done deal but it turned out to be more popular than we thought,” said Smith, estimating that 10,000 to 12,000 people participated, including runners, zombies and spectators.

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"Expect the unexpected," said Derrick Smith, one of the creators of the Run for Your Lives race series.

For those considering participating in one of the upcoming races, there are a few things to know:

The events feature two kinds of zombies: traditional “Stumbler Zombies” (think “Night of the Living Dead”) and “Chaser Zombies” (à la “28 Days Later”). Clearly, completing the course is no walk in the park.

“Expect the unexpected,” said Smith, who also offers this bit of sage advice: “Consider entering as a team. If you’re going through a heavy zombie area, have a couple of people up front that you can sacrifice to save everybody else.”

Note, too, that there will be a handful of “health packs” scattered around the course. If you see one, grab it as allows you to cross the finish line as “alive” even if all your flags have been grabbed.

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The Run for Your Lives races feature traditional stumbler zombies -- think "Night of the Living Dead" -- and chaser zombies -- a la "28 Days Later."

And, finally, expect to get really, really dirty. It’s an apocalypse, people; between the “blood,” sweat and fear, things tend to get a bit messy.

For more information, including schedules, entry fees and post-race party details, visit RunForYourLives.com.

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

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