Running a 5K can be challenging, but running a 5K with obstacles, mud and zombies presents a different kind of challenge.
Jessica Johnson, a communication graduate at The University of Akron, did just that on Saturday at the Zombie Mud Run in Canton.
“Completing the race is the best feeling and makes all the struggle so worth it,” Johnson said.
The Zombie Mud Run is a 5K obstacle course including both zombie and human participants. This race is set in the not-so-distant future, according to the run’s website.
Human participants must fight through the mud, obstacles and zombies to get to the green zone, which is said to have water, food and other supplies. Humans run with three flags on a belt. These flags represent the human brain, heart and entrails.
Zombies, who are humans who signed up to play zombies in the run, must infect as many humans as possible. These zombies are stationed along the course and try to capture the flags. Any human who crosses the finish line with one or more of their flags survives.
Johnson, who entered the race as a human, said that the zombies were just one part of the course that made getting to the finish line difficult.
“It was a lot harder than I had anticipated,” she said. “The obstacles were tough and the mud made them even harder.”
Johnson has been training for this event since she saw an ad for it online in April and watched a video about it.
“It looked like those people were having so much fun,” she said in a recent Buchtelite article. “Seeing that video is all that it took for a fire to light inside of me. I decided that I was going to participate in the event.”
Since she began training in April, she has lost 30 pounds. Now that the run is over, she plans to train for other runs, like The Color Run, the Bad Prom run and the Warrior Dash. In The Color Run, runners begin dressed in white and finish covered in color. In the Bad Prom run, runners are encouraged to wear prom attire ranging from a tuxedo T-shirt to a retro prom gown. In the Warrior Dash, runners face 12 extreme obstacles, such as the pitfall or the “warrior roast,” which is a line of wood on the ground that is lit on fire.
“I will definitely continue to exercise,” she said. “I plan on doing the Zombie Mud Run next year for sure, but I also want to do The Color Run, the Bad Prom run and Warrior Dash next summer. My long term goal is to run a 10K in the next two years.”
Johnson ran with both her sister and her friend for support.
“It definitely helped to have them there,” she said. “We all helped each other, especially when it came to obstacles that dealt with strength or heights. I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
For those who are looking to begin running or getting into shape, Johnson’s biggest advice is to not give up.
“Crossing the finish line felt better than I could have imagined,” Johnson said.
“It was so exciting and I am so proud of myself for sticking to my workouts and accomplishing one of my first fitness goals and my first mud run.”