Although not directed at a zombie apocalypse, this article has some general pointers for surviving the end of civilization, including:
- Find food and water.
- Find a group.
- Select a leader.
- Find or make shelter.
- Figure out ways of heating or cooling.
- Think about long term provision of food and water.
It also addresses some general ideas on self-defense:
- Evaluate whether you are in danger.
- Fortify your area, or look for areas with natural features offering protection.
- Collect weapons.
- Establish a command structure.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
A rather negative review of the situation of surviving a zombie apocalypse:
A zombie apocalypse would essentially mean the end of the world. Given how unfit many people are, it’s likely that the zombie hordes would multiply fast, and by the time it’s beyond control, it’s a fight for resources among everyone.
Food expires, especially when power fails. Those who aren’t fast enough to raid stores will be left in the dust. Packaged food will be useless to most unless one is capable of making a fire on the fly, something that generally draws zombies. Planting seeds for fruits and vegetables is time-consuming, and it’s likely that one won’t be in one place long enough to harvest crops.
In the winter, forget it. In other words, have fun finding food.
So you’ve planned a complete zombie survival plan if the day should ever come, complete with escape route and weaponry? Good for you. Now where do other people factor into this?
If you’re so good at surviving, there will definitely be others who will as well. So how do these encounters factor? Just like any normal conversation, any encounter with a survivor can go in any direction. Are they trustworthy? Will they be there to steal your items? Should they join you, what then of that plan? It’s not likely they’ll follow your every move. No one ever said rebuilding society was an easy task. Taking the loner route is possible, but honestly, how long would that mentality last?
The zombies of this article are of slow-moving abilities. Individually, they don’t prove much of a threat. As a group, especially if blindsided or cornered, there’s a problem. This has been touched upon in modern media, but it still remains a valid point. Among those who claim they could survive, how many actually do physical activity? Being thin means nothing if one doesn’t have the stamina to keep moving. After sleepless nights and constant relocating, fatigue kicks in for all but the most enduring.
There will be no people attempting to save anyone in mass quantity, unless said people are idiots or philanthropists – or there may even be a run-in with the military. With most of the members being in a state of fear and ignorant of the origin of the zombie outbreak, you’re screwed either way. Should they not shoot on sight, chances are you’ll be taken into custody, where you’ll be tested upon and then forced to serve in a community.
When it comes down to it, should you establish a place to survive, a place to thrive, other people will want in. Lawlessness prevails, so be prepared to defend yourself, at least until the military rolls in. If you’re a survivor and you’re found, the military will want everything you have. But if you can fight back against men with combat gear and bulletproof armor, all the power to you.
This is an article briefly discussing the different ways TEOTWAWKI could come about. Strangely, notwithstanding the title, it doesn't actually discuss a zombie apocalypse. However, they do discuss other possible SHTF events such as: (1) super-volcanoes, (2) dawn of another ice age, (3) pandemic disease, (4) cosmic impacts, (5) carrington event, (6) gamma-ray burst, (7) runaway greenhouse effect, and (8) nuclear war. Anyway, read the whole thing.
The legendary "Bigfoot" was captured in an annual hunt near Elliston, Montana, this year.
Armed with flashlights, whistles and beer, 327 "hunters" trudged through snow for an hour and 20 minutes, the longest search in the history of the event, before someone finally blew their whistle announcing that Bigfoot had been found.Basically, it is a rather elaborate "hide and seek" with someone in a costume. Hopefully they used private land for the event. I don't know if skulking around in the woods in a hairy costume would be the best idea if it was on public land.
Cathleen Dobson, a member of the National Guard in nearby Helena, was this year's victor. She found Bigfoot — that is, John Peskey, a 6-foot-2 high school orchestra teacher dressed in a Bigfoot costume — nestled in a willow thicket at the back of the property.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
An article from Backpacker Magazine on first-aid for hiking injuries:
When serious accidents happen hours or days from help, the steps you take directly impact his survival odds and path to recovery. Ideally, you will be able to diagnose and treat a range of injuries, as well as stabilize your patient until experts arrive. Guides and other pros master these skills in a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, but the intensive training takes up to 10 days and costs hundreds. What’s a time-strapped hiker to do? A good first step is to learn the five-tier WFR Patient Assessment System, which we’ve detailed here along with its nifty mnemonic memory devices.Read the whole thing.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Another post for those of you that like modern ruins.
The "Exclusion Zone" is an area surrounding the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor is closed off to public access, except for special permission. MSNBC has provided an evocative description of a small town inside the Exclusion Zone one-year after the tsunami and reactor disaster:
...it was a suburbs-fringed town surrounded by cattle farms. There were neat three- and four-bedroom houses on half-acre plots. There were tricycles and big-wheels on the driveways. There were swing sets in the yards. The only thing missing was people. If space travelers arrived after an extinction-level event, this is what they might find. A traffic light on the main street blinking red cautioned drivers who weren’t there to slow down.
I walked down the center of the street. It’s an odd feeling to walk down the middle of a main street, down the dotted line. I walked into a large drug store. The door was open. It was an American-style drugstore that sold everything from candy bars to razors to toilet paper. The shelves were still stocked. There were half-filled baskets in the aisles. It was silent. No people. No cash registers. No background music. Nothing.Read the whole thing.
A sushi restaurant was next door. It was locked. The menu on the front window showed the lunch special, a combo of sushi and miso soup, that was offered on the day of the explosion.
I walked into a man’s home. I opened his fridge. It was full. The food was rotten.
There was a laundromat nearby. There were carts half full of clothing in front of the washing machines.
But suddenly we heard movement. Cows, which have broken out of their enclosures, have taken over the town. They seemed more wild and aggressive than usual. The cows were led by bulls. We had to hide behind a tree as the bulls raced past, cows charging behind them. They ran so quickly I saw a cow slip on the street and crash into storefront. She scampered to her feet and joined the feral herd.
I haven't done a book review here before, but this one is interesting and useful, so I thought I would give it a shot. Let me know if you would like me to follow a different format.
Book: Without Rule of Law: Advanced Skills to Help You Survive by "Joe Nobody" (190 pages; 2012). (Amazon link here) (Barnes & Noble link here).
Overview: This book covers the skills and ideas related to scavenging following a wide-spread disaster resulting in the loss of the rule of law. About 1/4 of the book covers selecting, prioritizing, and training with your equipment, with special chapters on "the survival net" (using a net for various purposes) and weapons. The author next covers hiding, evasion and infiltration. The final portion of the book discuses specific tactics of scavenging, including a chapter on working in teams. While the book focuses on the arch-typical "survivalist," it has a lot of potential for the person looking to survive a zombie pandemic.
Impressions: The focus of the book is to scavenge food, medicine, and other essentials that has been abandoned from unoccupied buildings and facilities, after a major disaster in what may be hostile territory.
The author writes the book from the perspective of someone living in a rural retreat location, but, for one reason or another, needs to replenish food, medicine, or other critical supplies in circumstances where government and other socio-economic systems have ceased to function. In other words, the world has gone to pot, there is no government, and you need to find a nice warehouse filled with food, medicine, or whatever other goodies needed for your survival.
The author candidly admits in the book that there is going to be a limited time frame in which to engage in productive scavenging. In fact, he acknowledges and assumes that the "easy pickin's" are already gone, and that you will be scavenging secondary, less well known, sources of foods and medicines such as individual doctors offices, office break rooms, rail road cars, etc. Even those sources will "dry up" due to others scavenging.
My impression of the book is positive. It is well written and edited. For someone who enjoyed "Mad Max" and similar post-apocalypse stories as a kid, it is actually an entertaining read. But it has a lot of useful information on operating alone, using MOLLE equipment, using a camouflage net for everything from dragging supplies to use as a hammock.
Where I would fault the author is that he doesn't give enough specifics on some topics. For instance, he mentions the importance of learning military hand-signals when working in a group, but doesn't illustrate any of the hand signals. The book Light Infantry Tactics for Small Teams has an excellent description of hand signals, and there are some sources on the web. If you think that you would be operating in a small team while scavenging, I would recommend also purchasing the Light Infantry Tactics for Small Teams to use in conjunction with this book. And practice the hand signals and movement techniques.
Another area that I would like to have had more information is actual instructions on how to penetrate the doors to a building or getting through other barriers.
Even ignoring the scavenging portion of the book, it does offer a lot of tips and instructions for escape and evasion, camouflage and hiding, that could be useful by itself.
The book has obvious application to a zombie apocalypse. First, post zombie apocalypse, survivors may need to move around to avoid zombie hordes, making it difficult to operate from a fixed location. You may end up taking in survivors that have little or no supplies and will overtax what you have stored. Unusual circumstances will crop up where you may need supplies that you did not originally plan on. Most of all, unlike more "conventional" disaster, a zombie apocalypse will be sudden enough that there should still be plenty of materials to scavenge. Thus, techniques in this book would be invaluable. Just don't be surprised if gun-play, or bashing your way into a warehouse with a sledge hammer, attracts a few of the undead.
Since Sunday evening, mysterious sounds have been jolting the city awake, and no one can explain where they're coming from.In more recent reports, the USGS states that the booms were caused by minor earthquakes that are magnified by the bedrock on the area. (Story here).
"People describe them as booming, thunder-like noises -- vibrating, shaking," Lisa Kuss, Clintonville city administrator, told msnbc.com. "The most extreme one I experienced was at 10 p.m. Monday night in our utilities room, and it was a bam."
That night, city officials received nearly 100 calls about the unexplained shaking. Alarmed, city officials tested gas levels, investigated sewer systems and landfills, and checked on city dams. Everything came back normal.
Of course, this isn't the first time an area has been plagued by mysterious booms. For instance, in 1983, parts of Arkansas suffered mysterious booms. Areas off the coast of the Carolinas also experienced mysterious booms in the 70's and early 80's. Anyway, there are numerous other examples of this phenomena.
Sorry. I couldn't resist the pun. Anyway, here is the story:
Almost imperceptible against the green foliage, these human-like silhouettes appear to be standing vigil in the forest.
But the unsettling life-size figures - creating what's been dubbed the predator effect after the 1987 film where an alien life form seamlessly blends into its surroundings - are a new, thought provoking art installation in the Scottish woodland.
Contemporary artist Rob Mulholland designed the series of six mirrored statues to make people think about man's impact on the surrounding landscape over the centuries.
If you will be in Reading, Berkshire, England, in the near future, a group is sponsoring a chance to fight zombies in an abandoned shopping mall--air soft guns will be provided by the sponsor. More information here. And a news story from the BBC here.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
a short story called "A Reason to Fear Life, a Reason to Crave Death" with a zombie-like infection, and steampunk elements.
Video from Chile is stirring up the UFO debate after an unusual object took a fly-by during an air-show.
The footage, from 2010, appears to show a 'spot' moving quickly from frame to frame, causing the engineer who spotted the aberration enough alarm that he alerted the Chilean Government.
The UFO made an appearance during an acrobatic air-show at the El Bosque Air Force Base in Santiago, and apparently went un-noticed at the time.
Whether this is because this was due to advanced alien cloaking technology, or because the object is just an artifact on the film depends on your viewpoint.
The case goes back to an air show that was staged in November 2010, at Chile's Air Force academy, which is headquartered at the El Bosque Air Force Base in Santiago. Nothing untoward was noticed by anybody during the show itself, but Kean said an engineer at the nearby aircraft factory noticed an anomalous spot as he was sifting through video taken from the show, looking for an image that could be used as a poster photo.And this blog post from the Huffington Post has a link to a video of Chilean General Ricardo Bermudez discussing the case at a UFO conference.
The spot appeared to move quickly from frame to frame, and the engineer thought it looked enough like some sort of craft to notify the Chilean government agency in charge of investigating anomalous aerial phenomena, known by the Spanish acronym CEFAA.
The way Kean tells it, CEFAA investigators looked around for other video clips of the event and pieced together six additional views of the spot-shaped phenomena. Ricardo Bermudez, a retired Chilean Air Force general who is now CEFAA's director, told a UFO conference last month that his agency consulted with other officials, image-processing experts and "non-believer astronomers." CEFAA's conclusion was that the spots were caused by an object traveling through the scene at speeds in excess of 4,000 mph — so fast that it went unnoticed by air-show spectators.
A smart-phone app that is a both a game and physical exercise--and based on outrunning zombies.
An app called Zombies, Run!, is a narrated game where real-world runners must out run zombies and collect supplies to keep themselves and their fellow humans alive -- and the only way to do that, is to hit the pavement.(Full story here).
"When you're out running, you'll occasionally get chased by zombies and you'll need to speed up in response over the next minute," said the app's co-creator Adrian Hon.
"That's very much like interval training, which is one of the best ways to get fit and to improve cardio. But it's incredibly hard to make yourself do it because it's painful. But when you're being chased by zombies, well that's another thing," he said.
The story, performed by professional actors, plays out in one to two minute acts interspersed between the music runners already have on their devices. As players progress throughout the game, they start uncovering the mystery of how this futuristic world came to be filled with zombies.
Each mission that players embark on is approximately half an hour and there are currently 13 missions available, with 17 more in development. Players advance in the game by automatically collecting supplies like medicine, batteries and water for fellow humans back at their base.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Here is an interesting DIY project--a wrist mounted crossbow.
Priebe doesn’t draw up designs for his projects; he just starts tinkering. In his home shop, he cut some bars from an aluminum sheet and fastened together a Y-shaped frame that fit perfectly over the back of his hand.More photos and a video at the link.
Next he gathered more aluminum, copper, and brass sheeting. He ordered steel wire usually used in model planes, carbon-fiber tubing for the arrow shafts, and a few cylinders of low-friction Teflon plastic. He cut out two pieces of flexible spring-steel to act as the bow and stretched the steel wire between them for the string. Using a lathe, he shaped pieces of brass for the arrowheads, glued them to the carbon-fiber tubes, cut a groove down the center of one of the Teflon bars, and placed it in the center of the crossbow. To fire, he pulls back the wire, hooks it around a brass block, and places an arrow in the groove. When he flicks the thumb trigger, the brass block drops, the wire pops forward, and the arrow flies.
What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Have you ever wondered how you would navigate a band of lone survivors in an earth populated by six billion flesh-eating creatures ravenous for your squishy brains?
For those who have not fully considered these quandaries, a group in Portland, Oregon is offering an intensive two-day curriculum to prepare the unprepared.
Featuring prominently on the curriculum is the art of re-murdering zombies. Apparently samurai swords do the trick nicely, hatchets, and – unusually – it seems foam can also come in handy.
Such weaponry requires particular usage to effectively kill the flesh-eating monsters, all of which is covered comprehensively.
1. Stealth is crucial – hiding and attacking with a bow and arrow from vantage points can be more effective than facing zombies head onPhotos and more information at the link.
2. Choose the right weapons – samurai swords and hatchets are useful, but it’s important to learn how to use the arms correctly
3. Consider camouflage – blending into your surroundings can vastly reduce your chance of detection by zombies. Disguising yourself as a zombie is also a pretty crafty technique
4. Awareness is everything – learn why zombies ate other campers and how to avoid their fate
5. Consider the alternatives – becoming a zombie yourself may not be such a bad option after all
Friday, March 9, 2012
From Hollywood Reporter:
Etan Cohen, one of the town's hottest comedy scribes, is in negotiations to make his directorial debut on Paramount's horror-comedy Boy Scouts vs. Zombies.
With an "it's all in the title" moniker, Boy Scouts centers on a troop that must save a group of girl scouts from a pack of zombies with designs on spoiling a camping trip.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The chupacabra keeps racking up kills, according to this story.
When farmers in Mexico found 35 of their sheep slaughtered with significant claw and tooth marks around their necks, they had one creature to blame – the legendary chupacabra.
One man tending to the sheep overnight in the small Mexican town of Paracuaro said he saw animals with sharp fangs and wings kill the livestock.
Dubbed the ‘Bigfoot of Latin culture,’ the chupacabra is a legendary four-legged creature that many think is responsible for attacking and killing livestock.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
An interesting read (link here):
Look at you, all plump and fleshy, with a quickening pulse and body jam-packed with sweet meats. That brain of yours, with the scrumptious gray matter and thinking cap makes certain re-animated corpses crave a dining bib.
So what are you to do when the formerly living awaken with a hunger for a little human takeout? Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse?
Probably not. If you have to ask yourself that question, or took a moment before answering, then definitely not. In the time it took you to hesitate, even the slowest zombie could pull a dine and dash – or shamble – on you.
On the upside, you’re in luck since most people haven’t made the adequate preparations for Z-day.
Here’s the deal: A zombie can be a member of the walking dead or a barely living victim from a curse, virus, etc., and alternately run or shamble. They can be the creation of stupid humans, angry gods, black magic, mad science, cosmic events or – as is most often the case – comic book/sci-fi/horror nerds. But whatever their origin, they are a problem that must be dealt with.
But not even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks the masses are ready for the onslaught of the undead.
“There are insufficient people prepared for emergencies in the United States,” said Rear Adm. Ali S. Khan of the CDC.
A multi-credentialed doctor, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Khan was behind the zombie preparedness guide the organization published online May 2011.
Inspired by zombie-related social media buzz after the Fukushima Daichii nuclear disaster in Japan last March, and released days before Harold Camping’s predicted rapture, the preparedness guide is a tongue-in-cheek plan. Its message boils down to the idea that if you’re ready for a zombie apocalypse, you’re ready for any more likely crisis or disaster. The CDC website received 2 million page views the first week as a result, and the guide went viral.
The CDC has also recently partnered with AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead” – based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series – to utilize clips from the TV show and add helpful tips such as, “Clean water is zombie-free water.”
Apparently, according to TV Land, another tip to survive the zombie apocalypse is to not work at the CDC, which may have been the last hope for humanity in “The Walking Dead,” and went kablooey in a giant explosion at the end of Season One.
Khan reminded us, however, that the real deal is “alive and well” and that even in any scenario where the CDC would be blown up, they would have “contingency plans” to make sure they’re still addressing public health – which might be a subtle way of suggesting the government agency has a way cooler underground bunker than we originally thought.
Still, being prepared for a zombie uprising isn’t the same as surviving, and thriving, in one.
Author Max Brooks is the father of zombie survival after he literally wrote the book on it in 2003. Set against recorded attacks throughout history, “The Zombie Survival Guide” gives practical tips on defensive and offensive strategies against the ghouls whether you’re at home, in a public space, on the move or living in an overrun world.
Brooks goes a step further than the CDC (which he toured in October) and gives an extensive breakdown of weapons and combat techniques for life among the dead, but he still equates a zombie apocalypse to a natural disaster or – more likely, he said – a viral outbreak.
“People prepare for the obvious threat,” he said. “It’s the ones they underestimate that kill them.”
Also the author of “World War Z” – the book about a global undead pandemic which will be released as a film starring Brad Pitt in December – Brooks gives zombie self-defense lectures that he said remain packed with a diverse crowd of teenagers, middle-aged housewives and other hopeful survivors.
As an esteemed member of the advisory board of the Zombie Research Society, (alongside director George A. Romero) Scott Kenemore (author of “The Art of Zombie Warfare”), describes members of the zombie survivalist subculture as "super Boy Scouts" who will be armed head-to-toe and skilled at hunting, fishing and camping.
“Zombie enthusiasts have been preparing woodland hideouts, remote bunkers and treetop deer stands where they can use their skills to live zombie-free well into the apocalypse,” he said. “Accordingly, the zombie apocalypse nerd is likely to be wearing a combination of protective gear to shield against zombie bites, and half the winter section of an REI to facilitate their outdoor survival plans.”
If you haven’t been training since 1968 when “Night of The Living Dead” debuted, or since 2003 when Brooks released his book, there’s no need to panic – even if your name is Barbra and they are indeed coming to get you.
For about $100 and a plane ticket to England, you can attend Wish.co.uk’s Zombie Boot Camp in Droitwich, Worchestershire, for training with military instructors. Utilizing body armor and weaponry, you learn battle tactics and unarmed combat and sniper skills as you train for an attack on a zombie den. Tea, coffee and light snacks are available for nonzombies to eat during training.
A little closer to home for American survivors-to-be is the Run For Your Lives “zombie infested 5k obstacle course race,” which advertised on “The Walking Dead” midseason premiere February 12. After launching in Baltimore last October, RFYL is hosting races across the country, with the first of 2012 taking place on March 3 in Atlanta.
The American Red Cross and CDC will be present at the race, as will IronE [sic] Singleton (“T-Dog”) from “The Walking Dead.” And Dr. Khan from the CDC will also be running. He said he plans to stay with a large group of buffers.
But really, to survive zombies is to understand zombies. Education is key, and learning the difference between an enchanted Voodoo zombie and flesh-eating monster could be tough for newbies not already prepped.
Luckily there are resources such as Ross Payton’s “Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead,” which gives a handy visual reference to everything from the Common Gray Shambler to the Nordic Draugr and Chinese Hopping Corpse. He also provides a helpful guide of types of humans not to trust when the dead begin to roam. For the more scientific minded, Harvard psychiatrist Steven C. Schlozman, M.D. has documented the biology of zombies in “The Zombie Autopsies.”
So at the end of the day, or at the end of human existence as we know it, if you’re unprepared for the zombie apocalypse, it’s your own fleshy fault. There are resources to build muscles and train your tasty brain for when corpses come back to life.
Coming soon, zombies will be invading Michigan State University.
The School of Social Work is offering a one-of-a-kind online course called "Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse – Catastrophes and Human Behavior" that will do a lot more than teach students how to fend off the undead.
Starting May 14 – the first session of the summer 2012 semester – students enrolled in the seven-week course will learn how human behavior and nature change after catastrophic incidences – from the historical to the hypothetical – through a blend of traditional coursework, online forums and a catastrophic event simulation, which will be in the form of a theoretical zombie pandemic.
Aspects of anthropology, sociology and geology, among other disciplines, will be woven into the two-credit course, which will be scored on a traditional 4.0 scale.
"We are using the idea of a zombie apocalypse to attract attention to the important research and science on the topic of 'Catastrophes and Human Behavior,'" said Glenn Stutzky, social work instructor and creator of the course. "Students will learn about the nature, scope and impact of catastrophic events on individuals, families, societies, civilizations and the Earth itself."
During the simulation, which is the focus of the first week of class, students will be placed in survivor groups and tasked to work with each other to develop ways to survive the zombie pandemic. As the course continues, so will the simulation, but students also will learn about catastrophes like the Black Death and meteor strikes, and the impact these events had on the planet. During the final days of the course, students in their survivor groups will use what they learned and will face the conclusion of the simulation event.
"Though the topic is serious and worthy of academic study, the challenges presented in surviving a hypothetical zombie pandemic have real-world applications," Stutzky said. "After all, zombies make everything more interesting."
Stutzky and a team from Virtual University Design and Technology are using social media to promote the course, including the use of a YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter.
The course is part of a new venture called Summer Online Electives Initiative in Social Work. It is made up of nine courses meant to appeal to a broader pool of students, as well as provide more accessibility to social work courses for both current MSU students, guest students from other universities and members of the general public.
When it comes to the zombie apocalypse, popular culture has taught us that everyone falls into one category or another: infected or survivor.
You’re either running away from an undead threat, or you're running, and shambling, after your next human snack. Yet the role that’s so rarely discussed with zombie pop is that of a maker.
That has now changed. Instead of an act of God, nature or mad science, the zombie apocalypse has been orchestrated by one man, Derrick Smith
Smith is the co-creator of Run For Your Lives, a 5K race and “zombie-infested” obstacle course that officially launched last October in Darlington, Maryland, and is launching a nationwide roll-out in cities across the country, beginning with Atlanta on Saturday.
A fan of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Smith said he and childhood friend Ryan Hogan planned on creating an event similar to intense races Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder to raise the profile of Hogan’s athletic clothing line, Warwear. But then, they were trying to decide on something to run “from,” and the idea of zombies emerged.
Although he doesn’t classify himself as an “avid zombie fanatic,” Smith said he’s always enjoyed the movies and specifically prefers the zombies of “28 Days Later."
“I definitely appreciate the quick-moving zombies and the vacant city setting where there's strategy involved,” he said.
As a result, the 5K RFYL course (3.1 miles) is not a straight shot from start to finish. Smith and Hogan opted for a race where each course is unique and unpredictable.
“All of our course locations are designed based on the existing terrain with about 10 to 12 man-made and natural obstacles included,” Smith said. Furthermore, “there's multiple routes to the finish line, and there might be a couple dead ends, or you might hit a fork in the trail, and one way is going to be a little bit longer.”
He added that the course maps and obstacles are kept hidden, but the Darlington race included a 20-foot-tall cargo net and a “blood pit” filled with red liquid. The “Event Day Info” sent to participants warned of strobe lights and 3 feet of water. Smith also gleefully acknowledged that the Georgia red clay would leave a lot of opportunities for mud at the Atlanta race.
As for the zombies, Smith said they’re actually volunteers recruited through Facebook and Twitter. On race day, runners traverse this wasteland populated by slow and fast volunteer brain munchers.
The runner “survivors” wear a flag football belt with three flags that signify their health. If zombies pick off all the flags, runners are infected by the end of the race and won’t be eligible for prizes.
Meanwhile, the living get a survivor medal and a chance to win swag.
“We actually have health bonuses hidden throughout the course,” Smith said. “So as you're running through, you could lose all your flags, but - kind of like a real-life video game - there's going to be opportunities for you to snag a little health pack that would ensure you cross the finish line as a human.”
The attention to detail and strategy involved could position RFYL to capture the zombie zeitgeist and expand it into the real world as it spreads to 11 more cities in 2012 - including Boston, Los Angeles, Toronto and Pittsburgh, where director George A. Romero's “Night of the Living Dead” was shot. Smith said the Darlington event attracted approximately 10,000 spectators and participants between the ages 14 and 55.
Smith described the runners as a weird mix of hard-core zombie nerds, first-time runners and running enthusiasts looking for a new challenge.
He added that he’s received feedback from people who say they finally have an excuse to run, and that the strategy of the race allows the less athletically inclined to slow down, move with packs of survivors and avoid the next pack of the "dead" walkers. He said that option appealed to him personally, as well.
“I'm athletic, and I participate in recreational sports. But actually, just, like, running from point A to point B, or running around a track, never really interested me,” Smith said. “So that's why we took this direction; the obstacle course race, and then throwing in the zombies, makes it all a little more exciting to actually be running a race.”
As far as what attracts people to the idea of running the race and playing make-believe about life and death, Smith said RFYL attracts different levels of zombie fans, including those who view it as survival training.
“You have those people who have a plan, they have an arsenal, they have the water, the canned food, that whole bit,” he said. “Then you have the people who are more about just thinking about what an apocalypse actually would be; it's definitely an entertaining thought in my mind to think … what are the steps taken to actually survive.”
But he added that he thinks the analysis of the meanings behind zombies has gotten “a little too deep" when “just in general, I think you're dealing with death and what happens after death.”
The Run For Your Lives obstacle course is apparently one hell of a party. Once the race is over, zombies, survivors, infected zombies-to-be and even spectators join in the apocalypse after-party in the “safe zone.” With involvement from the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an appearance by IronE Singleton of “The Walking Dead,” Atlanta's all-day event will offer live music, food and drink, an awards show and games (knock the stacked zombie heads over with a baseball).
Smith said this party is nearly as crucial to the experience of surviving the "apocalypse" as running the race.
“We really try to put as much effort into the after-party as we do the race itself,” he said. “If it's the end of the world, you're going to want to have a good party.”
The tone is mocking, but the equipment is not--seven items to survive the zombie apocalypse.
LED Lenser P7 Flashlight
Darkness can be your ally…unless you can’t see a damn thing but you can hear a hell of a lot of zombies lumbering toward you. This flashlight is the perfect weapon against that inky night, with a high-powered beam that can penetrate up to 300 feet at its highest setting. Just load up on AA batteries every time you raid a drug store, and you’re set.
Kahtoola Micro Spikes
Escaping zombies requires sure footing—but winter can make the easiest escape route a literal sheet of ice. These spikes easily slip onto almost any kind of shoe, providing instant traction on surfaces that’ll leave the zombies slip-sliding behind you. And they also make a killer impromptu weapon for any who can kick or stomp.
Wenger Ueli Steck Special Edition Knife
You won’t decapitate any zombies with this knife, but in all other ways (ya know, for cutting things), this multitool/knife combo will never fail you.
Oakley Jawbone Sunglasses
Protect your eyes from sun glare and the inevitable spray of infected blood with these shades—different tints in the interchangeable lens system means you can adjust to any light situation. And the look is decidedly post-apocalypse, which is kinda bad-ass.
Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Prism Binoculars
We heartily recommend fleeing to the wilderness when zombies start to rise from the dead. But even if you’re trapped in an undead-clogged metropolis, seeing zombies from far away means avoiding zombies that may soon be upon you. These small binocs afford lightweight visual enhancement without swallowing a ton of space in your survival pack.
Adventure Travel Medical Kit Smart Traveler First Aid-Kit
We all know that if you get bitten once, it’s just a matter of time before you start craving brains. So, no, this kit can’t save you from the zombie infection. But it will prove essential, given the myriad of ways you’re liable to hurt yourself while fleeing the hordes. And the included book offers sage advice as you quickly realize you’re one of the last humans left.
Fire? A no-brainer. From keeping zombies at bay (by burning down a zombie-infested barn or crafting a quick torch), keeping you warm, or (yes) cauterizing a wound, the ability to make fire is essential. And this high-powered spark generator will likely last longer than lighters or matches. Better still, it works even when it’s wet.
Honorable Mention: Stanley Classic Flask
Because…ya know…the dead have come back to life and are eating the living. And when that happens, you’ll need a drink.