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Running for your life was never this much fun

/ 03:57 AM April 21, 2012

REMINDER to runners

A novel concept for a  fun run came to life as Outbreak Manila released 200 zombies to chase 5,000 survivors running for their lives in a “contaminated zone” inside Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, last Saturday, April 14.

The outbreak’s aim was simple, but the run was difficult. Each runner has three life flags which the undead would try to snatch during the race. A survivor comes out of the race alive, with at least one flag intact.

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The idea behind Outbreak Manila was inspired from a running event that Angelo Cruz joined in the US last year.

“But why should they have all the fun?” said Cruz, head organizer and the ringleader to 200 zombies.

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TALAHIBAN zombie boys

“When I came back, I couldn’t believe no one was doing it here,” he said. In four months, he recreated the event with a Filipino horror streak.

“At the rate runs are happening right now, everything is monotonous. We run for different causes—trees, rivers, things like that—but this time, we’re running for the most important cause out there—we’re running for our lives,” said Cruz.

Seasoned and newbie runners found themselves in five-kilometer Zombieland, made more difficult by obstacle courses.

The race route was never disclosed to the runners, and people began to strategize on their toes.

There was a maze where wrong turns lead to dead ends with zombies, a garter web room filled with zombies who claw for your life flags, a low wire where runners needed to crawl for an extra life, and the trail itself, which was narrow and forced some runners to pass through the bushes to avoid the touch of the undead.

ZOMBIE couple

“So, how do you want to play patintero, kuya?” asked one girl who taunted the zombies near the starting line and dodged expertly out of their reach.

One leg of the race allowed runners to outwit the zombies by “acting” and “walking” like the undead to be spared.

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Strength in numbers

Most of the time, others found strength in numbers with one or two who served as bait to mislead the zombies and free up the main road for other runners.

The survivors get to choose the “easy” or the “horde” way. The easy way had more zombies but was a shorter route, while the hard way was a lot longer but with fewer zombies.

CATCH me if you can.

“When all else fails, don’t think, just run,” Cruz reminded each of the 25 waves or batches of runners that set off every 15 minutes from 5:30 am to 12 noon.

Runners are not allowed to punch, kick, bite, scratch, tackle, spit at or attack the zombies.

“We have to remind the runners to have fun because the first instinct is to push away people or things that get in the way, and we have to prevent that,” Cruz said.

Cruz is a runner himself, but he didn’t join any wave because he supervised operations and deployed 50 field marshals and medics.

There were five water-quarantine stations at the site that served as safety zones for the runners.

But even zombies were not exempted from the scorching heat during the race. At one point, a zombie even asked for water from a runner in exchange for a pass.

Grrrlband zombies

“Is that allowed?” asked one runner.

“We’re zombies, but we get thirsty, too, you know,” the young schoolboy zombie from Binangonan, Rizal, replied and chuckled.

Participants can choose to be zombies or survivors. There were three types of zombies to watch out for—sprint zombies who were stationed in the first 500 meters of the run, walkers who blocked the trails every 200 meters, and crawlers who jumped out of nowhere or from the bushes.

Cruz said he employed 70 “zombies-for-hire,” and the rest were fans who gamely auditioned for  the role.

Stuntman Richard Mafi said he joined as the hip-hop zombie because he had “no taping that day.”

“This is a different kind of action, see?” he said, while showing off a large number of red flags he had seized from runners.

CRAWLERS

Meanwhile, the Kitane siblings—Anja, Anya and Argie—came as Army, ranger and pirate zombies and said the race was a fun way to bond.

“It was kuya Argie’s idea. We auditioned and sent our video on Facebook. This brings us closer to each other,” said 17-year-old Anja, the youngest of the three who called herself the “minor zombie.”

Iggy Ignacio and his two other gym buddies played World War II zombies with full make-up and prosthetics.

One runner who passed by Iggy said he wanted to take a photo with him.

Cute zombie

“Wow, that zombie was cute!” said one runner. “Habulin mo ako, kuya zombie!” The remark drew laughter from her fellow runners.

ANGELO Cruz

But if the race was a preview of the post-apocalyptic world, runners will get a feel of who to “save” and who to “let go.”

A father at the finish line was relieved to see his daughter, and asked the whereabouts of her brother.

The girl shrugged and replied: “He’s out there, Pa. I think he’s still alive.”

But for runners Sophia Nakagawa and three of her high school friends, they made sure to finish the race together.

They prepared for the run by dressing up as characters from different zombie-themed movies such as “Silent Hill,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Resident Evil” and “Walking Dead.”

“We’re not pro runners, but this is our chance to play out our fantasies as our favorite characters from zombie movies and games,” said Sophia.

While some were just in the race for fun, others were serious about getting into the Top 40 in each wave and receive a medal at the finish line.

For John Funtanilla, 28, it was his birthday, and a chance to chase after his girl.

“We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die!” exclaimed Jaja Biscocho, who held John close when mobbed by zombies who apparently connived with her boyfriend for the engagement proposal.

When they were cornered, John stepped down on one knee, took out a ring, and popped the question. “Will you be mine?”

Jaja said “yes,” and the zombies cheered wildly and spared the couple—at least for that leg of the race.

John said he chose the event because it mirrored their love story.

“How we got together wasn’t exactly a fairy tale. But that’s life, beautiful things come out of ugly situations,” he said.

Like many of the runners who started out as risk-takers and finished the race as survivors, the fun run itself was a “risky move” because it was a first of its kind in the Philippines.

“At first, sponsors did not like the idea of a zombie run. But with the great response we got, they started to reach out to us,” said Cruz.

Cruz added that they are planning to come up with a sequel of Outbreak Manila, and are exploring the possibility of a night run with zombies.

The zombies will be back to get you. Soon.

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TAGS: Angelo Cruz, Nuvali, Outbreak Manila, Running, running with zombies, Zombies
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