|Actors dressed as "zombies" chase runners in Outbreak Manila. Photo from Outbreak Manila's Facebook page
MANILA, Philippines -- Thousands ran for their lives while being chased by hordes of "zombies" in a survival-themed race in the Philippines on Saturday, April 14.
Taken from a popular zombie race in the United States, about five thousand runners raced to finish the 5-kilometer course as they tackled a series of natural and man-made obstacles, while dodging an assortment of zombies sprawled along the tracks.
Outbreak Manila organizer Angelo Cruz said themed races help regular and professional runners focus without losing interest midway.
"We all are fans of zombie movies. We like watching zombie shows and it really tickles our imagination and right now, to have it in reality, it's making everyone's summer, I hope," Cruz said.
Two hundred actors dressed as post apocalyptic zombies hid behind trees, bushes and rocky uphill climbs to surprise the unsuspecting runners and symbolically eat their brains by stealing health flags attached to the runners' waists.
Runners are considered "dead" when all of their three flags are stolen, but they can get additional flags by accomplishing certain optional obstacles that often include a swarm of zombies guarding the prize.
To keep both runners and zombies safe from injuries, organizers imposed a no-contact rule that forbids the zombies from any physical contact with the runners aside from taking their flags and scaring them witless.
Runners were impressed by the assortment of zombies as most of them were taken from popular television shows, movies and music videos.
One particular zombie from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dances to trick the runners into acquiring their flags.
The terrain was designed for regular and professional runners as contestants can choose two distinct paths that trade difficulty with the length of routes to the finish line.
By the end of the race, runners were given prizes for their troubles, and many shared a sense of realization about surviving a global zombie takeover.
"In a zombie apocalypse, I guess it's all about thinking about yourself and about your survival. I mean, even if you're with friends, it's all about you. Because I mean, you know, once you die, it's over," said runner Carlos Cang.
University student Rodson Santos, who wore a shuffle bot costume as his way of surviving the zombie hordes, realized that fitness was still the most important aspect in survival situations.
"The well trained surely have higher endurance. If you can outrun the zombies, then you'll probably survive. But if you're just a regular person without any exercise, chances are you will be easily caught by them," he said.
Outbreak Manila aims to promote fitness and exercises through survival-themed races. They plan to host similar themes across Manila in the upcoming months after the success of their pilot zombie race in Laguna province.