KAREN: J.A. Garland ran for her life from Zombies! Find out how she survived! In celebration of her outwitting the undead, she's offering one trick or treater a bag full of treats: Includes: a gift certificate for ebook INSTINCT, monogrammed jelly belly tins, coffee mug, tote bag, Ana Banana zombie soap, magnets, Lula's Chocolates, pens...and more! CONTEST ENDS NOV. 1ST AT MIDNIGHT.
Run For Your Lives Zombie Race by J.A. Garland
I'm the third from the left.
Have you ever been attacked by hordes of zombies? Recently, a team of four brave souls participated in a Run For Your Lives--Zombie race in Seattle, WA. Our mission, to traverse a challenging obstacle course through hundreds of walking and running dead while protecting three red flags hanging from a belt around our waists. The zombie's mission, to grab our flags before we crossed the finish line, thus making us one of them.
While there were many lessons learned during this event, they can be grouped into three main after action report (AAR) items.
1. Preparation Conditioning: Make sure you are physically prepared. Our race was held on a BMX race course. Hazard flagging was strung along the outside perimeters of the trail, with zombies lurking right up to that line. Running off course in a cross country trek isn't an option, you must run the gauntlet with the rest of the stampede. For those of you who haven't seen a BMX course, picture hills so steep you have to use your hands to scramble up them. Then imagine that every five feet or so are horizontal lines of zombies waiting for you--and they aren't trying to get up the hill. Some of these zombies are runners, and some are walkers, but their common motivation is an insatiable desire for your flags. You better believe you're going to be sucking air trying to get up and around them.
Weather: Pull a NOAA weather statement for the date/time of your race. Being from out of the area, I should have done this. If I did, I would have pushed the group for an earlier start time. I didn't. I also stopped looking at the car thermometer when it hit 100 degrees. Who cares after that point? It was Africa hot, and as dreaded, I'd soon lean that I didn't pre-hydrate nearly enough.
Battle Dress: Test out your running attire before combat. My chosen ensemble was a pair of long, flared cuff running pants. Crawling on your hands and knees through 20 yard mud trenches meant I emerged with mud coated pants that were several times heavier. They also flapped around my ankles and threatened to trip me up with each evac and evasion maneuver.
2. Teamwork I'd like to say everyone made it out alive, but in reality, our group had a 50% survival rate. Looking around, we were fortunate, other groups weren't nearly so lucky. I'd like to think that had something to do with our, 'take one for the team,' mentality. When two of us died, (yes, during mile two I succumbed to my injuries) we became the sacrificial lambs for the rest of the team. Coming up on a horde of zombies in the path, we would preplan a left or right hand run pattern with our team mates. Then we'd head in first so the zombies would give us chase, and our uninfected team mates could run an opposite pattern with less heat. It wasn't perfect, but it gave the survivors a fighting chance.
3. Go for the Gold
Aggression of action. I add this in, because thinking back, there was an individual who had strategy worth mentioning. He came at the zombies like they came at him. As if in a game of pigeon, he'd head straight for zombies, crazy in his eyes. Probably fearing an NFL type collision, the zombies would peel off at the last moment, and this guy would run through unscathed. Now, I'm not saying this tactic would work for everyone, I'm 5'4", so my psycho isn't going to be nearly as impressive as his 6', brick shit house attack.
San Francisco, March 13, 0700 hours
Anxiety prickled Rory’s chest before fanning out to raise the hairs on the back of his neck. Dropping quickly, he pressed his torso and legs flat to the ground. Prone was never first pick, but a small silhouette was the best concealment the area offered.
Lifting his head, he scanned the beach. Early morning waves rolled onto the shore, a salty surf leaching down to darken the sand. He twisted, angling to look overhead. No birds, no surfers, no stray animals. Nothing. The absolute absence of activity confirmed his instincts.
Rory sprang to his feet in a protective half-crouch and turned, just in time to see a man come out of nowhere. Lowering his head and steeling his body, Rory head-butted his attacker square in the gut.
“Shit!” The man grunted, expelling an angry rush of air as he hit the sand.
Rory resisted the urge to leap back into the fray. He’d been in enough fights to know men with tunnel vision didn’t live to fight another day. Giving himself a buffer, he took a few steps back. “I’m not here for you.” This wasn't the Otherkind Shadow whose dossier he'd spent the better part of the evening memorizing.
Who was this man and why was he tangling with him?
“Do yourself a favor and stay down,” Rory growled while looking around. Several distant figures headed their way from the north and the south. It was entirely possible they weren't friends of the man who'd tried to jump him. They could be nothing more than the early morning runners they appeared. But other runners never made him feel this on edge. Just what in the hell was going on?
“You might not be here for me, Wolf, but we're here for you,” the man said as he scampered to his feet, clearing away Rory's doubts about the approaching men. His wide smile was reminiscent of the smug expression Rory once saw carved into a coyote totem pole.
Coyote slid effortlessly into the horse fighting stance, “Well, come on now. Don’t be shy. I promise to be gentle.”
Anger replaced nerves, tightening his jaw and coiling in his limbs. Rory lunged forward, fists punching thin air as Coyote sidestepped, displaying remarkable speed and agility. Heart pounding and pupils dilating, Rory's wolf sensed the danger and awoke. Snapping and snarling, the beast begged to shift and attack, but Rory couldn’t allow that. Not with his exit routes being what they were.
Coyote shoved one leg into the sand for extra support, warning Rory he was going to try something. Sure enough, he kicked out lightning fast with his other leg, catching Rory in the right knee. Rory flexed with the blow so nothing broke. Using his attacker’s forward momentum against him, he grabbed a single fistful of his shirt and yanked him close. He stabbed four rigid fingers into Coyote’s throat. The man's eyes went wide, hands pawing at his neck as his carotid sheath dilated. The immediate dump of blood dropped Coyote to his knees.
Repositioning himself, Rory wrapped his arm around Coyote’s neck and cranked until he felt the vertebrae give way with a satisfying crunch.
His heart still contracting wildly, Rory leapt to his feet. He dug his boots into the sand and raced away from the men who were closing in. In the last ten yards of his sprint his wolf railed against him, hating water the way a pump hates cavitation. Natural instinct saved his life earlier, but Rory didn't slow, instead prevailing against intuition to hit the surf at top speed before taking a lungful of air and diving under the foamy waves to safety.
***CONTEST: If you could be any paranormal creature you wanted, which one would you choose? Leave your answer in a comment (with your email address included), for a chance to win this bag of goodies! Includes: a gift certificate for ebook INSTINCT, monogrammed jelly belly tins, coffee mug, tote bag, Ana Banana zombie soap, magnets, Lula's Chocolates, pens...and more! CONTEST ENDS NOV. 1ST AT MIDNIGHT.
About the Author: J.A. is a full time firefighter in the state of California, an addicted trail runner, a connoisseur of all things cheese puff, and an author for BURST Books. When she isn't slogging through the obstacles at a mud run, you can find her hunched over her computer unleashing demons, vampires and werewolves upon the world.