Zombie Mud Run – A Post-Race Review




Since I was looking for a race to keep me busy heading into the fall months I was given a great opportunity to take part in a different style of mud run, the Zombie Mud Run in Reading, PA   (www.thezombiemudrun.com).  Being a committed mud racer I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this race or even think you could incorporate zombies as part of an obstacle race but I was anxious to see what the race was going to give us as a challenge.  I am always looking for a good change of pace from the other races and was really excited to give this race a try.  Plus I am not a huge horror movie fan but was really excited to see what they had planned to scare us with.

The race location was actually a really large and roomy park area that was able to fit all of the activities that were going on at the location (the race was part of the ‘Shocktoberfest’ festival at the location).  The parking was a bit confusing though, as they had us park at a small field that had us cross through a gardening center and through another small section of the park to get to the festival area.  However, there seemed to be more than enough of parking directly at the race and festival area, which could have had more activity going on in the festival.  Even though it seemed a bit off it was still a very short walk to the registration area with staff getting every racer to sign their waiver and get ready for the registration line.  The registration went pretty smoothly since you had multiple items to obtain (shirt, number, wristband and flags), but I was disappointed that there was no timing chips, and that the racers were not assigned specific race numbers (I was not given a number and when I went back to get one, they just pulled the next number out of the pack and handed it to me).  This is probably the one area of the race that would improve the experience, and I will explain later why this would have helped the staff during the race as well.

I was part of a group that was supposed to run in the 10 a.m. heat, but some of the people in our group told the registration table that they wanted to go as early as they could and were given the wrist bands for the 9 a.m. heat.  So we all decided to just go in the 9 a.m. heat (there were no staff checking any strips going into the start area) so we could be the first on the course and not have to worry about the dug up areas on the course after the first few waves would go through .  We anxiously waited for the start, and after running a few minutes later than 9 a.m., the starter had the count down and we were sent on our way. Many of the obstacles were really great, with obstacle setup similar to some you might see in a regular outdoor scene in a horror movie.  Hay bales that were piled up with larger wooden crates to climb up and over, wooden frames over a pile of mud, barns and small buildings with lots of cold and spooky areas to run though, and even large V ladders and water slides.   I was also very impressed with the way the race made its way into some old buildings that were straight out of every abandoned building scene from your favorite fright flicks.  They had a very good race route having racers go thru wooded areas, open fields, hidden paths, creeks and even a construction area with cement highway dividers that made each area of the course different but challenging in not knowing what you would see next.   The course itself was probably one of the better thought out designs I have come across for a race to hit the exact theme of what they were promoting.   There were plenty of zombies on the course to avoid and out run, which also added a different element to the race since you normally do not have to go to a dead on sprint in an obstacle race until you are closer to the finish line.  Instead this course had you adjusting your pace at all times to save some energy for those bursts of speed needed to get by the zombies.  And in some cases you really needed it (some of the zombies were chasing racers for really long distances, I guess they were the youth movement zombies!!).  And the mud areas of the race had excellent mud, the thick and tough to get through type of mud that sticks with you a while after crawling through it.  Some of the best mud I have had to get through in all of my races.

So one of the other things I like about the race was the running with our flag belts which is the fun part of the race.  You get 3 flags on your belt, and you need to have at least one flag left on your belt to ‘survive’ the plague of the zombies.  If you lost all of the flags it meant you were infected and would not be able to ‘win’ the race since you were infected. This didn’t really apply since most of the racers were not out to finish the race in first and most of the zombies on the course left at least one flag on the racers.  I was able to finish the race with 2 of my flags remaining so I did ‘survive’ the plague, and I believe most of the racers were able to survive as well.

Now the race did have some areas that needed some improvement.  In the obstacle area some of the wooden structures were very soundly built, but there were really big gaps in some spots that could cause some serious injuries and cause the race some legal issues.  This included the gaps at the top of each V ladder, as well as the wooden bridges over the creek (the steps on this were too far apart and very small for some racers to step on).   The ladders used for the monkey bars also were not completely tied down completely and felt loose as I went across.  I am an average size runner but for the large racers the ladders could possibly come detached and cause injury.  These areas could really cause some problems for people racing for the first time and not prepared for these harder obstacles.  I also would like to see the water slides longer as well as some of the pits with and without water just a bit harder to get through.  Again with some adjustments in some of these areas I think they can have one of the better designs of obstacles on the circuit for novice racers and experienced racers.

One other area that had a good first step was the finish area.  The finish area was easy for spectators to see everyone come across, and was very photo friendly for all finishers.  But there is some improvement to be made for awarding the prizes.  The staff at the finish line were not sure of who was in the lead for the trophies being handed out for first place in each heat (no walkie-talkies to communicate with the staff located on the course to identify waves and who the leaders were) and without the timing chips and specific numbers assigned to each racer this step at the registration could have eased the worry for those staff of keeping track of the leaders.

One other item I thought could have drawn even more people into the festival was a kid’s race.  Many kids are into racing as well and a min-monster run could have drawn even more racers in for the day and had a bigger attendance for the festival as well.   This would give even more opportunities to have vendors and other companies that are race and festival oriented to come and participate.

So to give you my rating of the race, let me go down my grades for the Zombie Mud Run:

LOCATION – Great location, with a Shocktoberfest festival going on with many other activities for racers and spectators to do before and after racing.  Could adjust the parking to allow more people to park directly by the festival area.  Very large location and could expand on more of a festival and also make a longer course and kids course for future races.  B+

REGISTRATION  – Staff handled the process as best they could.  Waiver completion was enforced immediately.  Some disorganization for the staff without specific numbers and times assigned to racers that could be tracked and processed easier for starting times.  Timing chips with the racers numbers could have assisted in the awards process at the end of the race.  C

COURSE –  A really great design, with so many different areas to run through and almost be in your favorite horror movie scenes.  Lots of zombies on the course with some of them very active to challenge the racers.  Great paths and extra points for running thru creeks and thick mud.  Could possibly use a few more markers on the course, maybe signs instead of paint arrows on the ground to direct racers.  A

OBSTACLES  –  Some of the obstacles were very thought out and set up well.  Some of the obstacles were a bit hazardous and could have given people doing this type of race for the first time some serious problems.  A couple of the obstacles were not secured and need to be anchored down more for a truly safe course.   And some of the zombies may want to watch how far they case people onto the obstacles since that could also cause injury.   Water slides could have been longer and some of the jumps could have had maybe a little more hay or other padding to support the landings for racers.   C+

ZOMBIES – An extra category for this race.  Great costumes and acting for those on the course.   Some of the zombies were great with doing the extra chasing in some of the longer run areas.  But in some areas they needed to be just bit less aggressive in the chase (mainly by the wooden planks over the creek, the zombie there was chasing right up to the steps on these planks and a new racer could have fallen between the steps in this spot).   A

COST/VALUE  – The race cost was very reasonable for being able to not only race but to also go out on the course and be a zombie before or after you race. I think the spectator pricing was a bit high for the amount of activities that were available, but could be justified if more fun things similar to the activity area where you could get and extra flag for your race or a free zombie t-shirt were offered for the spectators.   Free after race beer is always a plus.  The free bag check was also a big plus.  Tech shirt was very good and great finishers medal.  B

So overall a good first step for the Zombie Mud Run.  I think with just a few tweaks this racing series could become very big and compete with some of the other mud racing series.  One of the big advantages to this type of Mud Run is the huge Horror movie crowd that normally would be sitting on the couch watching the horror movie when they could instead be a part of the actual experience and actually get up and get physically active again.  I see nothing but positives for this race with the right planning and execution.

Thanks for your time and remember to run safe and smart!!


Mike Matter

OCR Enthusiast


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