By Joshua Martins.
Pictures by mikem626.
A month ago, while planning SFNEOnline Day / Superhero Celebration, I had found out about a Zombie 5K at Six Flags New England. Those that know me and my love for the undead, I just had to do this. I went as far as having my personal trainer help train for what was ahead. At the time, we had no idea what to expect. On October 13th, I had to wake up early to be at the park for a 6:30 AM check in. It was very cold day, so cold that when we began the race it was just 28 degrees. It was a bad day to wear a t-shirt and shorts, although Zombie 5K Fright Run t-shirt I was wearing was pretty amazing.
For those who do not know what a Zombie 5K Fright Run is, well it’s a 3.2 mile obstacle course with zombies, of course, trying to take three different flags off you, very similar to flag football. The flags represent your life, so if you lose them all, you have become infected, keep at least one and you are a survivor.
We lined up at the starting line for 7:30 AM. When the air horn sounded, we were off! Mind you, I usually only run towards the fridge, not 3.2 miles so this was the test of all tests! Down muddy hills, up muddy hills, jumping over a big pipe and down a steep hill into a newly formed mud pit that had you sinking into over your shoes! We had to dodge zombies at every turn. They would lunge, dive, run and chase you as if you were running in the Olympics going for the gold, except you were running for your life!
I know I did not make it too long before loosing two flags and was in near danger of becoming infected with only one flag left. Everybody by this time had left me in the dust. I was all on my own, like a character in some old black and white horror movie waiting to be attacked! I finally came close to a few survivors and we went on together for a little bit. We had to travel through knee deep water under a road before finally climbing a hill. Once at the top of the hill we were immediately thrown into the next obstacle which required us to crawl through a pipe. By this time I have no clue how far I am into this race… I am huffing and puffing with my adrenaline pumping to a degree I’ve never seen before, definitely testing my endurance!
I pressed on, zigging and zagging, running from the oncoming zombies to encounter a 10 ft wall and two ropes! I gave it the good old college try and failed because my feet were soaked. I could not grip the boards with my feet to climb. I was also loosing grip with my gloves. I jumped down and went around the obstacle. Up to this point I’m about thirty minutes into the race. I had made it back into the main parking lot, across the street from the park and there was a hay mountain to climb, I did this easily. There were two zombies on the mountain of hay trying to steal my one and only flag, I was determined to keep that flags so as I climbed and they dove for my flag, I rolled down the backside of the hay with my flag still attached! Up came a water safe spot, so I took advantage to be able to catch my breathe, drank some water and then was off. My journey was now leading me into the park.
I ran over the bridge that crosses Main Street and took a right into the preferred parking lot. This took us into Hurricane Harbor and my next obstacle, the roof climb. As I climb I can not see what’s on the other side and when I get to the top there is a group of zombies trying to get my last flag. So I climbed down and tried to figure out how was I going to get by this herd of zombies. Once I hit the sand and the oncoming horde approached, I juked and ran past the zombies. It seemed like you couldn’t really catch your breathe because they were always coming and sneaking up on you. As I was running past the wave pool one zombie came from my left and I ran so fast I had left him in the dust only to be confronted by 3-4 zombies over by Kontiki and Fast Eddies. As I dodged the first two, the third came from my right. I tripped and slammed my knee into the metal queue… Down I went. The thought going through my mind was, “Is this how it ends? Do I get to finish the race?” A nearby security guard came running right to me and the zombies knew to back off. The security guard let me go off course to go sit on a bench near the Rockville Theater. As I sat down, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. After about five minutes or so I was back up but I couldn’t run. I walked the rest of the course. While walking, two zombies approached and one ended up taking my last flag. My only concern now was to just finish the race, even with a busted knee.
Now that I had lost all my flags, the zombies left me alone. I marched on down to the picnic grove and through a hay maze with zombies popping out from behind trees scaring the daylights out of me. I came up to another obstacle and this one I did not think I could do, but to finish the race you had to do it. I had to repel down a 8-10 ft cliff! I had a quick EMT visit that was at that obstacle then grabbed the rope and went down. When I got down I was confronted with the Connecticut river and as I was walking I could see the steam roll off the water making this seem like a real zombie apocalypse. I just kept on walking, going through the death hurdles, climbing them, passing a few, and climbing one more as my knee was in so much pain. I could only bend it so far and I will say to continue was a struggle. I was fighting through every step, every turn, and every obstacle. I had to go through some tires to get to another rope wall to climb. I eventually can see the finish line diagonal from me so I continue thinking I am safe, boy was I wrong! The finish line was looking me in the face – along with the final obstacle – a 2-3 ft. deep pool that you had to walk through to get to the finish line! To further amplify the zombie apocalypse theme, the pool was filled with legs, arms, and brains. With a busted knee and below freezing temperatures, I jumped into the pool, made the “swim”across, and climbed out. Now I just had to go through the finish line. Heading toward finish line there were people cheering me on to cross it. I did it! I completed the race!
I headed over to the EMT station they had at the finish line and was checked out by a wonderful and great EMT. She checked to see what sort of damage I had done to my knee and she came to the conclusion that it was a pulled muscle.
My final thoughts on all of this is that this was the hardest thing that I have ever done. At first I said never again, but I have a new motivation, that is to survive. I did not enjoy becoming zombie bait and I want to survive! I did learn a lesson from getting injured. I will live on and will do it again! This was also all caught on video as I ran the course with a Go Pro Cam Hero 2. All in all there were three hundred people who participated in the run and seventy zombies running through, snatching up flags! If you love zombies and obstacles or just looking for something amazing to do, this is the event for you! No matter your shape or size, I proved that anybody can do this race and it was intense and fun! This race tested you and turned men & women into the undead! Hope to see you all next year!
I want to thank the YMCA in Springfield & Six Flags New England for putting on such an amazing event!
To finish off my review, here is a video of my journey. Warning: Graphic language is used, who wouldn’t use graphic language in a zombie apocalypse though?