| LAGUNA PROVINCE, Philippines, April 16
LAGUNA PROVINCE, Philippines, April 16 Natural
and man-made obstacles studded the course of a Philippine race,
but the real danger to the thousands of runners came from the
hordes of "zombies".
About five thousand people dashed along the five km (three
mile) course of the survival-themed race in Laguna Province,
about 38 km south of Manila, dodging an assortment of the
walking undead in the contest based on a popular U.S. race.
Two hundred actors dressed as post-apocalyptic zombies hid
behind trees, bushes and rocky uphill climbs along the five km
(three mile) course to surprise the unsuspecting runners and
symbolically feast on their brains by stealing flags attached to
the runners' waists.
Once all three flags were stolen, runners were "dead." But
they could gain additional flags by carrying out optional tasks
that often involved zombies guarding the various prizes.
Organizers said the races helped both amateur and
professional runners stay focused without the boredom that can
kill some runs.
"We like watching zombie shows and it really tickles our
imagination," said Angelo Cruz, organizer of Outbreak Manila,
which seeks to promote fitness through the races and plans to
hold similar events in the coming months.
"Right now, to have it in reality, it's making everyone's
summer - I hope."
There were two different routes available, trading
difficulty with length to the finish according to the runner's
skills and preference.
To keep both runners and zombies safe from injuries,
organizers imposed a rule that forbade the zombies from any
physical contact with the runners aside from taking their flags
and scaring them witless.
Not all of the zombies, many well known from popular
television shows, movies or music videos, used crude fright
One, from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, danced to
trick runners into letting down their guard, at which point it
snatched their flags.
At the end, runners were awarded prizes for their struggle
and tried to express their feelings about surviving a global
zombie takeover and what might be needed.
"The well-trained surely have higher endurance," said Rodson
Santos, a university student who wore a robot costume as his way
of surviving the zombie hordes.
"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."
Others drew even harsher lessons from the experience.
"In a zombie apocalypse, I guess it's all about thinking
about yourself and your survival," said runner Carlos Cang.
"I mean, even if you're with friends, it's all about you.
Because, you know, once you die it's all over."
(Writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato)