Zombie Evacuation November 2014

Zombie Evacuation Nov 2014

Allianz Park

Now, I along with several team-mates did the Zombie Evacuation at Pippingford Park last year (2013). It was brilliant. The most enjoyable event I have done to date. It is only 5k, so not particularly challenging, but a real hoot. Especially when watching Superbeard get completely owned by a 10 year old zombie. There were only 7 of us in the team last year and I can’t remember exactly how the booking procedure went as another team member did the honours.

This time however, the task was mine and mine alone. I had recruited 19 people for Team BareBones (checkout the Team BareBones/BareBonesFitness Facebook pages for photos) and set about submitting a team. This has to be done online and with 27 years of IT experience behind me this should be a piece of cake. Not so. I left my IT job because I was rubbish at it. Anything more technologically advanced than a balloon on a stick and I get completely lost. Anyway, after much cursing, button prodding, vacant screen-staring and getting distracted by videos of someone spinning around on an office stool, (I kid you not) I managed to get the team booked up and paid for.

After sitting there for a bit, basking in my Bill-Gates-like intellect, I wondered where the confirmation email had gone. I checked. Re-checked. Watched another stool spinning video. Went to bed. Got up and checked again. No email. Did we get one last time? I couldn’t remember. Over the next two weeks I tried getting in contact with the organisers. First using their e-form, then the email link, then FaceBook messaging, then Twitter. No luck. Even a response saying that I was a plank and confirmations don’t get sent out would have been preferable to the stony silence. I was beginning to get grumpy. I did consider, out of frustration, going round my Mums and picking a fight with her cat, but then remembered that I came off a serious second best last time we met. To make matters worse, the date and venue was changed from Pippingford to the Allianz Park and from an October Sunday date to a November Saturday date. This meant that five team members had to drop out.

Three months later.

One week before the event many of the team had still not received joining instructions. I launched off a few more frantic and increasingly snippy emails. I was (eventually) assured that emails would be sent 48 hours before the event. Now at the risk of being accused of behaving like Little Miss This Isn’t Flipping Good Enough, I thought this was cutting it a bit fine. The day before the run we still had a couple of people sans email and using the ” running-around- my-house-with-my-pants-on-my-head-screaming-with-panic” approach didn’t seem to be helping. I then received an email saying that everything was ok and that I didn’t need to panic. I wasn’t convinced and kept my pants close by. Just in case. Anyway, the day arrived, we got to the venue (more on the travelling later) and the registration went by without a hitch except for the fact that I was checked in as another Steve Wright who was running two hours after my start time.

Right, so, what’s this blog supposed to be about? Ah yes, the Zombie Evacuation Race. Let’s get on with that.

Our wave was called up, so up we trooped and listened to the dire consequences of straying off the course. Or attempting to hide our ‘lives’. Or engaging with the infected. All misdemeanours it seemed resulted in getting shot. One of the team was busy fanning herself and repeating “I’m so scared. I’m so scared”. We were very sympathetic.

And off. We jogged the length of the stadium pitch whilst being “cheered” on by bloodthirsty zombies, then out into the wilderness of Hendon NW4. It didn’t take long before we ran into our first group of zombies. (What is the collective noun for a group of zombies?) It also soon didn’t take long to realise that the danger to our little band of apocalyptic survivors didn’t necessarily lay with the undead. A narrow pathway led to an opening infested with a groan of zombies. I bravely abandoned everyone else and ran ahead and turned to see one of our team body-check my daughter to the ground, then hesitate as if to weigh up the pros and cons of going back to help, before pulling her to her feet and safety. My paternal instinct kicked in and I for a few metres couldn’t run straight for laughing. Now the screaming had started, it didn’t stop.

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The terrain was much easier than at Pippingford, but there also appeared to be many more zombies this time round. Zombies with a sense of humour apparently. After successfully negotiating another lurch of zombies, Team BareBones rounded a pathway and came across a deep ditch. Catching our breath, we slowly started to cross the obstacle. Lots of help, teamwork, pleases and thank yous. All very civilized, but to be honest we were taking our time and making a bit of a mission out of it. I looked back to see that we were being observed by the recently avoided zombies. It seems that they had decided that we were faffing around too much and thought (if zombies think) that a little bit of a gee up was required. They started barrelling towards us. The scream went up “They’re coming”, which triggered off the most almighty ditch-crossing bun fight. All humanity and teamwork went out of the window as we shouted, pushed and then clambered over each other to get away.

Yay. Go Team BareBones!

The solidarity didn’t end there. One of our team, who for confidentialities sake, I will call Mike was intent on surviving. After clashing with and dropping to the ground another evacuee, he spent the next 5 minutes apologising profusely. Lesson learnt, our liberal survivalist then floored a female zombie and again spent time apologising. He wasn’t the only one with a well developed survival gene. Robbie (who shall remain nameless and most definitely wasn’t the one who shoulder-barged my daughter over and almost cost me a life because I was laughing so much I nearly got zombied), was at it again by executing his signature move by shoulder-barging Aiden out of the way. After a calming walk across open fields, we came to a building. Up the stairs, across a balcony-type walkway, down and around. Seemed quite straight forward until we realised that this allowed the zombies to double back and set off after you again once you thought you were safe. A common zombie tactic. My daughter showed me her bleeding hand from the collision earlier, foolishly expecting sympathy. With a fathers love I gently explained to her that the smell of blood might attract the zombies and that it might be useful if we used her as bait, before I galloped off.

The zombies volunteers were, as usual, brilliant. Only once did the facade slip. When crossing a park road the zombie in question started off dutifully shambling around and moaning, then realised that a car was approaching. Without skipping a beat, she went into living traffic-warden mode. Then, a second later, back into zombie character. For about 10 seconds she went seamlessly from one to the other. It was mesmerising. A bit like watching Peter Sellers at his creative best.

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Another great obstacle was a through a pitch black building with a sprinting track. The screams echoed off the wall as half-seen shadows jumped out at you as you ran passed. Then we made it to the final hurdle. A mad dash across the stadium pitch. We were now a complete team as we had caught up with Sgt Major Rizwan at this point. Linking arms, our plan was to charge the zombies using an unbreakable Spartan phalanx formation. We eyed up the massive stumble of zombies in front of us. The signal to go over the top was given and we immediately let go of each other and ran off in different directions like well drilled headless chickens.

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I got my head down and heroically decided to use other team members as decoys in an attempt to protect my one remaining life. As I got to the finish I turned round to see how the others were doing. I spotted Lois (name changed) who had a look of steely determination on her face, arms and legs pumping as she Forrest Gumped her way up the centre of the pitch.

We had all made it. Air punches and high fives all round. What a great event. Despite the aggravation of the booking, we will almost certainly be back for the next one.

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To the organisers, even though once at the venue, there was no problems, the communication really does need sorting out. If that is sorted then I feel I can confidently retire my Pants of Panic.

As far as the travel is concerned, the website suggests making your way to several local stations, then catching as bus to the stadium. This is a pain and involves quite a walk. I for the life of me cannot figure out why it isn’t advised to just drive to the stadium and park there, thus taking 20 minutes to half an hour off the travelling time. If you are travelling from the South East as we were, this is not an easy place to get to.

To sum up. Lots of screaming. Lots of running. Lots of fun. There is so much to talk about afterwards. Team BareBones will be back in 2015. See you all there.

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