An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dawn of the Dead Dash

What's with kids these days?

I'll get back to that later.

First, my wife and I decided to spend our Halloween a little differently this year. Instead of staying home and handing out candy (or going out with my daughter while she collected variations of the SAME candy from the neighborhood), we went into Tacoma dressed as zombies to do the Dawn of the Dead Dash.

It sounded like a lot of fun -- run a 5K at night through an urban area, with a loosely defined "course", checking in at a few must-stop check points to get a card punched, all while avoiding getting tagged by a various and growing "zombie horde" along the way. Almost like an adult version of tag, except that when you tagged some one and they became "it", you were still "it".

Seems simple enough. The zombies weren't to be released until 10 minutes after the start, we weren't required to follow the most direct course (it's an urban scramble, after all)...

It tuned into the biggest disappointment of the year for us.
Basically, if you read the website, just turn everything on it upside down and you'd have what the event actually was.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. We got our zombie get-ups done, and left the house before even the first kid came to the door begging for "trick or treat" (smell my feet). We left a large bowl of candy outside the door, and the front lights on. Getting to the race site at about 6:20, we waited in the car 'til 6:30 for the 7:00 start.

We got checked in, got our punch cards (complete with our thumb print -- I joked that it was so they could identify the body, should some whacko decide we were REAL zombies and shoot us in the head), got course maps, programmed in the checkpoints into our cell phones, and waited. And waited. Then we went outside and waited. And waited some more.

Start line instructions... Once you were tagged, you surrendered your glow stick necklace to the one who tagged you, and then your "only" job was to tag as many people as you could and collect their glow stick necklaces. Oh, but you still had to hit all the checkpoints. Are we seeing a problem yet? Oh, and we had to obey all traffic laws.

The actual start was around 7:35, which in itself wasn't SO bad, as they had over 100 people register at the event. Didn't help that they didn't even open up registration until 6:40. Anyway, the first checkpoint was only .2 miles into the course. Since the zombies weren't going to be released for another 10 minutes, we could get there and punched and be on our way safely.

And this is where things started to really fall apart. Just past half-way to the first checkpoint, I saw people sprinting into the street, crossing the road in front of cars. Yup, the first zombie had appeared at the only point of the course where you had nowhere to go (except the road). We managed to get by this first
one, and dodge another just into the checkpoint, which was a major bottle neck (as I knew it would be). As we left this checkpoint, my wife was tagged immediately. She told me to go on ahead.

I had one guy whip me with his glow stick and declare me tagged. I just kept running. A couple blocks later, two guys split and covered the entire way. I tried to rush them, but still got tagged. Oh well. I handed over my necklace and looked around. Not many people around me, and they'd all been tagged already. So I knew my "job" was pointless, and just ran anyway. At least I could get a nice fast run in tonight.

Most of the people then had no idea where they were going. One guy saw my phone and decided to follow me. Unfortunately (for him) it didn't last long as I left him behind.

Checkpoint two, and I had to tell two other people I'd already been tagged.

Checkpoint three was an out-and-back that would have made ambush all but a certainty.

Checkpoint four was along a waterfront trail, again ambush would have been easy, had there been any one else nearby.

The fifth and final checkpoint was on a hill. A steep hill. A reduce-your-pace-to-almost-walking hill. And it was surrounded by about 8 zombies. One of whom tagged me in the stomach with a big bloody handprint. I almost turned around and gave her a good "tag" myself, as it was clear that the event was meant to insure no one made it through the course "alive".

The last half-mile continued up the same (eternal) hill, then turned a corner and finished where we started.

In the "first after-race party" we were treated to a beer (which I gave to my wife -- I hate beer), and the RD was there at the tap. We discussed some of the issues we had with the event, and I'm not so sure any of it soaked in. He had a "well, we had to..." for everything. Partially, I don't think he had a clue. But the highlight of the evening was seeing Jesus (Nathan) drinking a beer. Apparently he's done several events dressed this way, including Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. He had to be fast to keep warm last night.

All the way home, we were discussing the event. I think almost the entire race budget was spent on the website, which is actually quite well done.

This event could have been a lot of fun. If any one there is listening, try this: Actually use the rules that you publish. And maybe only have your "staff" zombies out on the course, and not make it into an ever-increasing horde. Make it at least possible that one could make it to the finish line "alive".

Oh, and that bowl of candy that we put out before we left? My wife and I made a bet about it on the way home. I figured that it wouldn't even be there. She said it would, and would still have candy in it (I figured the candy wouldn't last 5 minutes). So the break-point was whether the bowl was there, even if it was empty. And the loser makes dinner tonight.

I'm making dinner tonight. What's with kids these days?

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