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Zombie Run – Scare Yourself Fit

snowy walk in Cumbria
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Zombie Run- Scare Yourself Fit

No one can run away from a global pandemic, but by outrunning a Zombie Apocalypse I felt better about the human condition, whilst getting in better condition…  

Zombie Run view of Cumbrian Hills
Zombie’s-eye view of Cumbrian Hills

Out-running pandemic and apocalypse

In January 2020 my New Year’s resolution was, as always, to get fit. I didn’t realise last year I’d be doing it in a pandemic. And I never would have predicted that this year I’d be doing it with the help of zombies.

Zombie run icy finger
Is that ice or frozen zombie finger? Image by The Family Adventure Project

Zombie Apocalypse – how did that happen?

In January my brother and sister recommended we should watch The Walking Dead. “Last lockdown was Game of Thrones. This year we’re all about the zombies.”

Soon Rick and Daryll became part of our lives in a way no other series has. Like the zombs in their post-apocalyptic world, the characters in the comic book based drama kept coming at us, night after night, with their human dramas. While we ate pizza, they scavenged for rabbits, battled with good and evil and plunged knives into the skulls of the undead. With raw, sometimes unhinged resilience, they survived anything thrown at them, including bombs, helicopters, fires, raids and a tank. Mind you, some didn’t survive more than one season; this series didn’t just kill off its darlings – it ripped them apart with rotten teeth. We sat under blankets on sofas, trying to copy their stoicism as our favourite characters bit the dust and felt glad our own pandemic didn’t make you undead.

At the same time, I coincidentally downloaded the Zombies, Run! running app. Or maybe it wasn’t such a coincidence. Maybe I was already hooked on the drama of escape in a time where it was impossible.

Sheeps wool on Zombie run
Sheep’s wool or old person zombie hair? Image by The Family Adventure Project

I became Runner Five

“Do you think we’ve all forgotten how to be normal? Do you think we remember what normal felt like?” I heard through my headphones as I took on the job of Runner Five each day in the my Zombies, Run! adventure. Good question. In winter lockdown, normal felt like a long time ago; the kind of olden days our grandparents used to talk about. At least the countryside provided some sense of consistency and routine. The cockerel in next door’s garden crowed at 5am, and 6am. The plains of the Mosses flooded and dried, the snowdrops came out and clung together like survivors.

In the dead of winter, there was no escaping the dead. Each evening I watched the news as the UK death toll climbed, then ran from Zombies in my dreams following an evening with Rick Grimes and the survivors of Atlanta. And then, on waking, I ran to a zombie soundtrack, sprinting for my life in the Cumbrian countryside.

Zombie Run flowers
Snow on my zombie run. Image by The Family Adventure Project

Picking up the running bug – eventually

Running was quite new to me. I was never sporty. (although I’ve always encouraged the kids to be) and even my best efforts have been comical. I mistakenly announced to my Facebook followers I’d achieved a land speed record when doing the Couch to 5K in the first lockdown, and one of the low points of my blogging career was belly flopping into a ditch on the Bear Grylls Survival weekend in front of a Visit Wales camera crew. The one time I tackled a 5k Race for Life I was so knackered crossing the finishing line that all I could do was wheeze into the interviewer’s microphone, which made for a fascinating insight for race listeners into how unfit I really was.

But Sam, Justine and the crew at the Zombies, Run! base were effective in motivating me. (A lot more effective than our politicians!) In January I ran from Abel to New Canton; a decoy and a hero, and a saviour of stray children. In February I set a target of running 50 miles, jogging through rain, hail, ice, snow and sunshine. In real life I outran death in the hedgerows and the forests, and life on hold in the villages and towns, whilst in my imagination I tackled the biters.  

There were highs and lows. In January a quick tour of Kendal after a visit to Asda felt like the end of the world when the only person I encountered was a woman crying into her phone in a car. In February a swan skating on the ice on the canal was a comical sight. There was danger too; not of a bite or a human ‘turning,’ but of shin splints until I bought better shoes.

Zombie Run golfer
Even the golfers aren’t human in a pandemic. Image by The Family Adventure Project

One of the running crowd

According to Runner’s World UK, I wasn’t the only one who put my running shoes on in the pandemic. It reported that in 2020, the Strava platform gained an extra two million new members a month, with a total of 21.5 million uploads a week. “‘At the global level, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a rise of activity on Strava like we’ve never seen before, far surpassing our normal projections.” said a spokesperson for the app.’

Running away from your problems isn’t always the answer, but I can confirm when your problem is a zombie apocalypse, it does put the rest of your worries into perspective. And in a winter face off with the walkers, I am proud and just a bit surprised to report I finally learnt how to run.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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