Have pen, will travel. Sending letters.
A letter from Berlin. In which is given an account of the effort to escape a horde of undead creatures on a 5-kilometre obstacle run.
Berlin, May 2014
my friend, I’m pretty sure you will love this! Guess what I’ve done today. Hordes of undead gathering. Waiting. Lurking. A bunch of people in the face of the zombie apocalypse – trying to outrun the undead crowd. Chased. Hunted. A run of a lifetime, I found myself right in the thick of. The rules were simple: Stick together, try to survive.
Sounds a bit pathetic, doesn’t it? Well, alright, let’s start from the beginning again: You known, since a few years running has become a bit of a habit to me – which, I know, came quite as a surprise to both of us as I never really was much into sports in my youth. Well, with increasing age and growing waist circumference (you know right away what I’m talking about, admit it – you do) some improvement of overall fitness seemed a good idea and … somehow, inevitable. Running seemed to be the easiest way to start with as it pretty much could be done anywhere (I mean, you really do not need much more than a good pair of shoes and some road). It also turned out to be a good way to ‘get down’ after yet another day at the office desk (plus, you’ll get your share of fresh air and that’s certainly not a bad thing, you have to agree). With a bit of regular training it is amazing how quickly one notices some improvement of endurance and strength, and adrenalin and endorphins circulating after a 5- or 10-km run pretty much seems worth the drudgery (well, most of the time). Putting these new skills to a test, I convinced myself to participate twice in the Berlin Half Marathon in the meantime (yay! right?) – and while maybe not scoring the highest ranks with a finish time of just about 2 hours (room for improvement, I know), I actually was quite happy having made it into finish in one piece.
But I wondered if there could be more than just running lap after lap. Some diversion, you know. And then I just came across that rather different obstacle race. 5 km, a number of barricades, and … an undead crowd. Zombie Run in Berlin. Zombies behind every corner. Zombies, eager to relieve the runners of their ‘lives’: three flags on a belt of which any runner is keen to bring as many as possible behind the finish line. Those who fail to save at least one of their life-flags consequently are doomed: read ‘infected’.
Of course, the head knows ‘It’s just a game.’ all the time. But I’m telling you, it’s hard to keep adrenalin low in the face of this atmosphere of manhunt and horror. Costumes and make-up, a desolate scenery – urban, abandoned, some really convincing zombies, and last but not least a generous use of fake blood and graphic gore and artifical fog created a pretty convincing apocalypse.
And know what? it is amazing to see, how team spirit and solidarity form among the runners! Hardly anyone was seriously trying his luck breaking through the undead crowd all alone – people who were completely strangers to each other before, were sticking together, developing strategies how to make it safe through this threat. Faster runners distracting the hungry pack, those with more ‘lifes’ covering the more vulnerable ones. Altruism in the face of the apocalypse. Really gives you hope for mankind, doesn’t it? No despair at the obstacles either – a helping hand always available, naturally. Oh and obstacles there were a lot. From interlaced hurdles to almost chest-deep water (cold water, by the way), steep climbing walls, tilted planes and hardly knee-high close-mesh wire to be crawled underneath. All of this – of course – with a scuffling bunch of creepy undead on your coat tails. So, how does this sound to you, my friend?
The bottom line? It’s not that hard to run 5 km if you’re in good shape. It even is anything but impossible to overcome a number of obstacles on the way. But being chased by a horde of awkward yet groaning zombies … certainly rises your adrenalin level and welds together the bunch of surviving runners. An amazing experience. Maybe next time we’re escaping these bloodthirsty monsters together, what do you say?