Frustrated by the Broad Street Run lottery? Bored by regular running? Can’t get enough flesh-eating monsters while you wait for The Walking Dead to resume? All of the above?
The Zombie Run is headed our way. This brand new themed race is the work of students Andrew Hudis, a Wharton undergrad, and David Feinman, who plans to transfer to Temple University’s Fox School of Business next year.
“Three years ago, I told David that I always run fastest when I’m being chased,” says Hudis. “We joked that we should start a race where actors chase the runners to the finish line. Eventually, we realized that our idea could actually be a fun race.”
The enterprising team had organized smaller projects, including a Halloween-themed Trick-or-Treat 5 miler with moderate success. But that sparked an idea: with themed races growing ever more popular, the duo set out the create a traveling, highly theatrical race based an apocalyptic story. The Zombie Run was born, and will soon leave footprints in cities across the country.
The students wrote a business model over meetings in local coffee shops, “and three months later we were permitted in five markets,” Hudis explains.
Now they’re joined by a team of professional race and concert producers, marketers and promoters who helped bring this race of the living dead to reality.
What makes The Zombie Run different from others, they say, is the immersive experience and attention to narrative.
“Our race really focuses on story. Like a ride at Disney World, we create an alternate reality over an otherwise mundane experience. We focus a lot on runner experience, and spend the money that other races use on obstacles to enforce our theme and add more carnage to the racecourse,” Hudis says.
The 3.1 mile course features an “apocalyptic playground” where zombies roam free after a failed military experiment, trying to devour any live humans in the area; runners must protect their “lives” from being popped, as symbolized by balloons tied around the waist. You might encounter any number of obstacles along the course, like strange ooze, ruined tanks and plenty of (fake) blood. Once participants are safely through the course, a post-run party will feature live music and decontamination.
The Zombie Run debuts in Philly on April 7, and will hit 15 other cities soon after. Registration is now open for individuals, team and zombies at www.thezombierun.com (check out photography by Colin M. Lenton while you’re there). A portion of proceeds from each event will also be donated to a local charity.