Video by Jas Chung-Campbell
When running from the undead you have to remember a few things: stay in a group, don’t trip and oh-they’re-running-zombies-nevermind, you’re screwed. These things all ran through my head when running the fourth annual UNF Swoopocalypse Zombie Run Wednesday night.
Beginning at the Student Wellness Complex, the two-mile race went past the red sculpture thing, the nature trail, the amphitheater and the Student Union to the finish. Packs of well-hidden volunteer zombies lurked around corners and bushes attempting not to eat your brains, but to steal one of the three flags on your waist. Lose all of your flags, and you’re no better than REDACTED in The Walking Dead premiere.
The campus at night can be pretty spooky when the mood is right and at some points during the course it was very right. Taking place almost entirely outside, the course took a detour through the Hodges Stadium’s first floor hallway. It felt like that’s where most of the decorating took place. There was fog, blood, and half-eaten corpses lying around to enhance the fear in the tight corridor. The rest of the course was light on decorations with the occasional grave stone and skeleton appearing to let you know you’re still on the right path.
Katie Kilpatrick helped with organizing the event. She said UNF Health Promotions put months into preparation of Swoopocalypse.
“It’s always busy,” Kilpatrick said. “This year we had about a 100 runners come out and about fifty zombies.”
The zombies themselves were a bit under-designed, but that could have been intentional. A few times, distinguishing between zombies and runners became difficult and a few people lost some flags because of it. On the nature trail, one zombie actually started running with the group I was with and took several people out from the inside.
Junior public health major Jonathan Batchelor dressed up as a zombie. He grabbed 15 flags from runners during the race.
“I was hiding behind trash cans and laughing at people,” Batchelor said.
I quickly learned to start looking behind me after “escaping” some zombies to make sure one wasn’t still lumbering behind me. They’d reach for you with hunger in their eyes and once you were out of range some even moaned with disappointment. They’d roar at you when running by with the kind of enthusiasm like you just stepped on their zombie toes. Others were less than convincing: though some of zombie were so apathetic going for my flag they might as well have been filing my tax returns.
Freshman George Burk discussed his plan to evade the zombies.
“I used other runners as decoys, if you’re running in a pack with with you’re probably going to get caught,” Burk said. “Every man for themselves.”
“It was tough at the beginning, but, you know, but I’m Kobe, I had to channel my inner mamba and let it all out,” Burk said.
After the race, Burk was assured he came out on top.
When asked if his strategy of using other runners worked, Burk replied: “It did, but then I had to channel my inner Usain Bolt and show them what the Olympics is like.”
Since the race was only two miles, some experience runners could see this as an easy race, but the more aggressive zombies forced you to sprint for several feet. The final stretch at the Student Union had the most aggressive zombies of the night. Sprinting as fast I could past what felt like a dozen creepers, one zombie looking a lot like one of my friends came out of the dark and practically picked me up. If it was the undead version of my friend, maybe he was just going for a hug. I should probably make sure he’s alive now that I think of it.
“Zombies are everywhere these days,” said every critic and writer ever in the last five years. They could easily be called entry-level creativity by a critic like myself. But this Zombie Run is an example of a campus event done right where everybody involved seemed to have a good time. It was well-organized by enthusiastic people from UNF Health Promotions. I’m excited to do it again next year, but only if instead of zombies they use clowns…
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