Run For Your Lives! Obstacle Race Review

Here’s the scoop on Run for Your Lives: Race waves run every 30 minutes with about 500 runners per wave. Runners wear a flag football belt and 3 flags. Throughout the course you must avoid zombies who are after your life (flags). The goal is to make it to the end of the course with at least one flag to be considered a ‘survivor’. If you lose all your flags, you cross the finish line ‘dead’.


Run For Your Lives Southern California 10/20/12

Early Saturday morning, before the sun rose, we packed the car and began our trek to Vail Lake for the Run For Your Lives obstacle race. During the two hour drive we worked on our strategy to outrun zombies and devised a plan to get some great photos and video of the race.

Daniel was going to take all the still photos and go behind the scenes to capture the zombie transformations that were taking place. And my brother, Chris, was going to wear the Contour to get some great POV video of the race.

We got to Vail Lake just as planned. Parking was about a mile from the starting line. Instead of having buses shuttling people, as we’ve seen with other races at this same venue, everyone had to walk to the race area.

Registration was well organized. They had separate check-in tents for racers, campers, and spectators. This event actually had camping on site, which is something I hadn’t seen before. Vail lake is a beautiful area with lots of grass, so this would have been a beautiful place to camp.

All checked in and ready to go!


Once we got our racing bibs, timing chips, and wrist bands, we headed to the staging area. There were three very long tunnels covered in black tarp. Depending on your speed you got to choose the tunnel that would best describe you: an appetizer, main course or dessert. We chose to go with appetizer. This meant that we got to go first on the course for our wave time.

Are you an Appetizer, Entree or Dessert?

The runners were caged at the starting line for their own safety.

Once the countdown started and they opened the gates, we ran up the first steep hill. This hill claimed a few people right off the bat. This was the same hill that someone blew their knee out on when we were here in February for Tough Mudder. Half way up the hill, and we had already seen a runner who had twisted her ankle. With an ice pack in tow, she was hobbling back down the hill saving her zombie-dodging dreams for another day.

We had an idea of what to expect of the terrain since we had done this course before. Although the last time was over 11 miles we had an idea of how the loop was going to be for the 5K. This first hill was definitely the hardest part of the course as far as terrain was concerned. The zombies that awaited us was another story.

One of the many zombies waiting for us on the course.

As we rounded the corner to the top of the first hill we encountered our first group of zombies. They were practically foaming at the mouth at the smell of fresh meat. There were about 10 of them, and these zombies were tricky. There are two types of zombies to watch out for: stumblers and chasers. The hard part is to tell the difference between the two. Stumblers will groan and slowly stagger about, and the chasers will start to stagger until you get close to them, then they bolt after you like you were the last free sample at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. We narrowly escaped this first batch with all our flags intact….

There were over 100 zombies on the course at any given time. That in itself was on big obstacle we had to overcome. This race purposely leaves the course loosely marked. There are lots of trails that can be taken which will lead you to dead ends and add lots of extra distance to your race. So it was very important to keep your wits about you , and not just mindlessly follow the person in front of you. We saw many people running wildly up steep hills, just to realize it was just one big loop that brought them back down to the main trail. This really worked in the zombies favor because it tired out poor runners and left them weak and perfect targets for the hungry undead.


Hungry zombies were everywhere!

At about a mile in and what seemed like 50 zombies later, we hit our first real obstacle. It was two back to back mud hills with mud pits in between. The hills themselves were about 6 feet high and very slippery. But with some good traction we got through them with little difficulty. There were several sets of 4 foot walls to jump over and a couple more mud pits to trudge through. There was a slide that dropped you into a pool of cold dirty water.  No obstacle race would be complete without some barbed wired to army crawl under. This race was no exception.

One set of the many walls that we had to get over.

Army crawl through the mud.

The Undead Water Slide

Some of the more unique obstacles included a maze which was infested with hungry zombies. You had to get through while avoiding dead ends and dead friends. The other was two electrified obstacles.

One was an enclosed room that had so much fog inside that you couldn’t even see in front of your face. As you walked through you ran the risk of touching one of many live wires hanging down. I got in the this room and couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The two zombies that were in the room came right up to me and offered to help me cross through. I was pretty freaked out – not by the electricity – but just the claustrophobic feeling I got being in that room with so much fog juice. The nice zombie had me follow his voice until I got through to the other side. I told him I didn’t know if it was smart of me to trust a zombie, but I was grateful for his help. (Zombies have feelings too!)

The smokehouse in the background was full of smoke and live wires. Barely impossible to make it out alive.

The other electrifying obstacle was at the very end where you had to squeeze under an electric fence that had a clearing of about 12 inches from the ground. If you happen to touch the fence while trying to go underneath it you got a nice little zap.

It was a tight squeeze under the electrified fence.

They made sure that their hungriest zombies were waiting at the end of the race. Just when the finish line was in sight, those dirty zombies were waiting to take any flags that you still had left. We had to do lots of dodging and sprinting to get past them.

I am proud to say that I made it out alive with two flags still intact. Chris narrowly escaped with one flag remaining.

This is the only time a zombie got my flag. I dropped my guard and he got me!


A little muddy, but we are in one piece!

All in all it was a lot of fun. Even though this was a 3 mile race it was challenging to keep up a sprint for the majority of the time to avoid getting eaten by zombies. I would recommend this race to anyone who has a love for the undead or who is just looking for something a little different than a traditional obstacle race. I am proud of the medal I earned and now know that I could survive a zombie apocalypse.


We Ran For Our Lives!


  1. Great segment! Can’t wait to do this one!

    • Thanks, Elisabeth. Sorry you had to miss this one. It was a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend doing it at least once. It’s great practice for the zombie apocalypse. :)

  2. Great review! This race was a lot of fun out here in Boston, but it was a lot muddier than I expected.

    • Thanks, Melissa! I’m glad you liked it. We didn’t have a whole lot of mud on our course, but enough to get us good and soggy. :)

  3. Great review and thanks for the insight on this race! Do you think you would recommend this race to a 16 year old? Not sure if it’s too scary or not. Also, were the electric fences and the fog house terrifying?

    • Thanks, Laura!
      I don’t think it would be too scary for a 16 year old. Run For Your Lives does use professional make up artists, so some of the zombies can look a little creepy. But I don’t think they will cause nightmares or anything like that. Nothing on the course was terrifying. The electric fences did not have a strong current, so if you touched it you could feel it, but you wouldn’t be hurt. Think of it like getting shocked by static electricity. It’s like that. As far as the fog house….it was more disorienting than anything.

      I would definitely say give it a try! It’s a fun race with good production value. And remember, if there is an obstacle you don’t think you can do or don’t want to do, you can always walk around. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a zombie waiting for you on the other side, but you will not be forced to do anything you don’t want to do. :)

      Besides, they now have a “Survivor” medal and an “Infected” medal. So either way you get something cool to take home and show off the next day ! ;)

      Let us know how it goes if you decide you do it!

  4. Oh, thank you so much for the info! I’ll definitely let you know if we decide to do it! :) It sounds like such a fun course to often is it that you get chased by zombies? ;) I appreciate your help!!

    • Happy to help! :)
      The zombies are usually hanging out by each obstacle. They are also scattered throughout the course. In the race I ran there were groups of zombies maybe every 50 yards or so. Towards the end of the race (last 1/4 mile) zombies were everywhere! So by that time most people had already had all their flags taken, so the zombies were milling around looking for any flags they could find.

  5. I hope I’m in shape enough to do it! That sounds pretty intense. I know there are 2 different types of zombies, right? One is a stalker and one is a runner or something like that. I’ve seen the official video from the website and they showed a part where a running zombie was chasing a girl and it looked like they were going 50 mph! hahaha I’m actually going to try doing the race in New York in early August..hoping weather’s not too bad there :)

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