The adrenaline rush was indescribable! Last Saturday, I joined the first wave of Outbreak Missions organized by Runtertainment and held in Intramuros, Manila (The Walled City). Thanks to Franc who invited me to the event, I discovered that I could endure and surpass an awesome challenge: to run a five-kilometer course with zombies chasing us at our back, front and sideways! Yikes. 😆 They were everywhere in the zombie zones, making escaping and surviving such tiring endeavors.
Honestly, I didn’t train intensively for the run. I believed I was fit enough to not get myself physically injured by strains and body pains because workouts are part of my everyday routine. Still, I worried a lot since I have never attempted to join a marathon before and I was completely clueless about the dynamics of the Outbreak Mission.
Outbreak Missions: Operation Stronghold
This most recent Outbreak Mission was the third installment of the first two Outbreak Missions held in October and November 2013 at the Filinvest City. In contrast to regular runs, the Outbreak Mission is not only a run that involved zombies but one that has a dynamic story where runners could choose their own adventure as a group.
While running, I felt like being in a video game or movie as I programmed the background of the mission on my mind. The ambiance in Intramuros, Manila also provided encouragement in thinking that everything was real.
Basically, the story circled on the failed experiment of a doctor named Dr. Alfonso Adarna from the Filinvest installment. This time, he headed to Intramuros to continue his research. By sheer bad luck, he was ambushed by the brotherhood upon reaching the site. This so-called “brotherhood” is composed of ruthless people whose plans are more evil than his. The key to this lies in a strain of smallpox dating back to the Spanish occupation, well-preserved and hidden inside Intramuros.
The runners’ mission was to find and rescue Dr. Adarna from the clutches of the brotherhood. But there’s a twist to it. Along the way, members of the brotherhood led by Dr. Vera were trying to convince runners to take their side and join their army. Their proposition is that the supposed cure for the zombie plague will be able to control the zombies. The catch? There were more obstacles to accomplish to complete the ingredients for the strain and runners must surrender the strain to them instead of giving it to Dr. Alfonso Adarna.
In between sprinting, we took time and stopped to huddle and decide on the path to take. Conclusively, our team chose to be rebels. We joined the brotherhood instead and we succeeded in “converting” the zombies. 😛
Next: Both the brotherhood and the rebels have been handed the strain, so no side has the one true advantage. On one end, zombies are being cured; on the other, the Stronghold citizens remain protected. Dr. Alfonso Adarna has gone missing again, taking both cure and control formulas with him. His plans are unknown but his devious hand in this Stronghold situation has been revealed and it will be in the next Outbreak Mission to find out!
Basic Tips to Accomplish the Outbreak Mission
A day before the event, I’ve acquired tips from reading blogs and watching videos all pertaining to Outbreak Mission and past experiences of participants. Here’s a consolidation of tips to accomplish the Outbreak Mission and “stay alive” in real life:
1. Get in the venue early. This is so that you can stretch and perform warm-up exercises, familiarize with the setup and mingle with other runners.
2. Take care of flags. There are three flags attached to a belt that you wear when running and these flags symbolize your health. When all flags are taken by zombies as you run and do the “patintero” with them, you’re dead. But you can still find life and get back alive, or stay as dead throughout. Either way, you have to run with the group and finish the race.
3. No weapons are allowed. Whatever is not needed should be left in the baggage area. Bringing heavy materials and weapons (e.g. guns, knives, etc.) is not advisable since they weigh you down and they are prohibited.
4. Stay hydrated. Water stations are found in every so other kilometer. When you see one, re-hydrating and taking every ounce of water your body needs is key to sustain your energy and catch your breath at the same time. There are no zombies in the water stations; these are “safe zones.”
5. When all else fail (even when all flags are gone), don’t think. Just run and have fun! Well, you can also walk when there are no zombies. It’s good to rest sometimes or you’ll pass out from over exertion.
Getting to Know the Zombies
I had the sweet opportunity to meet some zombies in their make-up room where their faces were being coated, painted and splattered with fake blood, mud and wounds. Their costumes were also creatively done, making them appear sufficiently bloodied and disgusting. These are things I learned about them:
1. The zombies aren’t real; they’re also humans, FYI. 🙂 But seriously, they looked scary and I was screaming silently at the top of my lungs while running away from them in the Mission.
2. The zombies auditioned, registered and attended a zombie school. They were not paid to do the job of scaring and chasing survivors, but they actually enrolled themselves to a zombie school where grunting and groaning plus the movements were taught. Tuition costs PHp 1000. Convincing makeup and creepy costumes—all transformation to be zombified—are included.
3. The zombies cannot harm the runners. While in character, the zombies can shout at runners and perform horrifying actions to add on to the thrill, but they cannot bear-hug, shove or yank people down. They pull flags worn around the runners’ waist.
4. The zombies are fast runners, too! While some zombies moved laterally and stood only in their position, there are those who ran really fast and came at runners in an aggressive way, thus getting through zombie zones requires a healthy heart. When you think you have passed them, there will be more up ahead!
5. The zombies are the main attraction in Outbreak Manila, so they must do well. I can imagine that it’s a tough work to run for the flags wave after wave, groups after groups. Being a zombie must be pretty tiring.
My Key Take-aways from the Outbreak Manila Run
1. It’s okay to sign up at Outbreak Mission alone. Some people have friends to go with them so they can already form a group of 10-15 members. In my case, I randomly joined a group of friends and was just lucky to find that they’re good people who made sure that everyone in the team was safe and sound. We held hands while walking in the dark and let go when running in zombie zones. So if you don’t have anyone to go with, don’t fret. Eventually, you’ll form friendships in the Outbreak Mission since you don’t have a choice but to stick together to survive.
2. Dressing like zombies is a good camouflage. Too bad I didn’t prepare a zombie-like costume to wear in the game. Most participants were in sports attire, but a selected few were clad in white with blood stains. I thought they’re cool! They should have applied make-up on their faces, too, so they could more easily pretend that they’re zombies and effectively cut the chase. 🙂
3. Stay mindful of directions. The map was included in the race kit, and it wasn’t there only as a prop. With tired feet, you would not want to be lost in directions albeit marshalls around the area could be called for help. We maximized the use of the map as a tool to reach the end point faster and to keep track of our current location. Checking the map can also reduce the instances when you verbally ask “Are we there yet?” 😛
4. The Outbreak Mission was also a mission to preserve history. Aside from bringing to life the participants’ dream of running away from a zombie, they also get to help in preserving The Walled City. Registration fee was PHp 1000 and the proceeds go to Heritage Conservation Society, which is a non-profit organizations that aims to preserve the original structures in our history.
5. The objective was not to be the first to finish the race but to finish it with whichever path chosen. There’s no need to rush and compete against other racers thus. Survivors (those with at least one red flag) took home a dog tag and bragging rights, while both survivors and non-survivors alike were given loot bags (Outbreak Manila T-shirt and giveaways from sponsors).
Overall, I had a blast. I hope to join the next Outbreak Mission…maybe as a zombie. Looks fun! 😀