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Commentary: Onslaught of zombies leaves humans running for their lives in Columbus Zombie Buffet 5K

Courtesy of MCT

I spent part of this weekend running for my life.

Almost every 5K race I’ve ever run has been a race against the clock. They’ve been races against girls in uniforms, some the same as my own, with numbered bibs pinned to our stomachs and hair pulled back into ponytails.

Saturday morning I showed up to Arch Park in Columbus’ Arena District to run the Zombie Buffet 5K, a race unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

I stood in line to get my bib behind a rather terrifying man in torn, “blood-stained” clothes, carrying a backpack with a white, blood-stained dog in it. The dog remained calm as bystanders took pictures of him and his zombie owner.

The park was filled with runners in costumes that ranged from zombie cheerleaders to blood-stained doctors and nurses, to a man dressed, for whatever reason, like a taco. A man with gray, bloody skin wore a long, black cloak and walked around on stilts for the entirety of the event, greeting runners as they crossed the finish line.

Aside from the unconventional look of some of the race’s participants, the race itself was also unusual. Runners were divided as humans versus zombies.

Humans wore flag football belts with two detachable red flags, and their goal was to finish the race with at least one flag intact. The goal for zombies was to turn as many humans into zombies as possible by gathering the most flags from humans.

I began the race as a human. The zombies started the race on the opposite side of the park from us humans, which gave us about a 0.1 mile head start. That head start was apparently not enough, as I was completely unprepared for the massive onslaught of zombies that began ruthlessly attacking the swarm of humans the minute our paths crossed.

Behind me I could hear groans and moans, and glancing over my shoulder I saw what seemed like hundreds of bloody, undead creatures coming for me. I lost one of my flags almost instantly in the chaos, then took off sprinting to stay “alive.” After dodging several zombies and running for about half a mile, I lost my life, becoming one of the undead.

The rest of the race was a mad dash to grab flags, with some zombies strategizing by traveling in packs and most humans running alone. By the end, nearly everyone was a zombie.

Running a 5K to stay alive instead of to get a new personal record time invited runners of all levels of athleticism to participate. There were fewer runners with faces of pain and more who seemed like they were actually enjoying themselves.

And while running this 5K reinstated my love of running, it also let me know that I am completely unprepared for an actual zombie apocalypse.


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