A year ago, on this day, I joined a fun run in Filinvest City called Outbreak Missions: The Narrows. It was a new concept from the creators of the zombie run in the Philippines, Outbreak Manila. It’s not just a run, it’s an adventure with objectives and side quests. You have 3 life flags and you have to avoid zombies to protect those lives. I remember back then that I was still having 2nd thoughts because I wasn’t able to convince any of my friends to join me (I was able to trick a friend to accompany me to the event). They have their own reasons and excuses, but I joined anyway, alone, for the sake of trying something new and because I like stuff that involves zombies. At the day of the event, I felt the excitement, the incredible atmosphere of different people gathering together to do something awesome.
The run itself is not just a simple fun run where the objective is to get from the starting line to the finish line, it’s quite different, something new. Runners were divided into teams with a minimum of 10 members per team. Since I don’t have running buddies back then, I just joined any group who lacked the minimum team requirement. Like any zombie flick or TV series, I teamed up with strangers, a mother and son, a couple, 3 friends, and 2 people we lost some time during the run. After a briefing of the rules and the storyline (yes, a fun run with a storyline) by actors dressed in military outfits, we are set loose on the streets of Filinvest City. The first 400m of the route alone was pure adrenalin rush, you have to run real fast to avoid dozens of zombies and there are cars scattered all over the road to conceal the zombies. It was a chaotic sight and I’m loving it, people screaming, some trip and fell injuring themselves, and the zombies can run. I survived that insane run with all life flags intact. En route to the mall, we had to pass through a route shrouded in complete darkness, this is another fun part, from a distance you can hear screams from the groups ahead of us. It gives both the feeling of excitement and fear of what you might encounter in the depths of the dark. I was confident back then, I was one of the people leading the pack. Midway in the dark street, some people screamed and everyone started to panic and run on all directions. Because of the darkness, it was hard to tell if the people beside or around you are zombies or runners. This is also one of the segments of the race where a lot of people get injured by tripping and falling to the ground. I emerged again with all life flags and confidence intact. We encountered a soldier offering a side quest for extra lives, it involves to another dark area with a bus filled with zombies with a simple task, just run towards the backseats of the bus, grab something, and go back to the exit of the bus. Sounds fun, but we skipped it and proceeded to Festival Supermall. This is the main attraction, a zombie infested mall. Love the dark, ambient lighting, especially the food court area where you have to pass through zombies by sneaking pass them. The zombies here are even more scarier than the ones outside, good job with the make up. We the moved up to a section in the mall where we have to pretend like zombies to pass through zombies. It was silly, fun, and easy, a good nod to the movie, Shaun of the Dead. Then to the next floor of the mall, there were NPCs (non-player characters) who’s job was to confuse people in taking routes. One guy was a crazy, hysterical, telling you that he was a spy and was captured and tortured, then points to a route to the fire exit. The other was a bit more convincing, saying other guy’s route leads to a trap pointing to the floor below where people are running and screaming. This is where I got separated from my team, I took the crazy guy’s route, my team took the other guy’s route leading to the floor above. I temporarily tagged along another team, even invited me for a group picture with them. We got to that floor where we just have to pass quietly, we were moving slowly and crouching, but then somebody screamed, probably psyched out by the zombies, and we all started running. I turned left, had to face 3 zombies and due to the small space, I was pushed to the corner by 2 zombies and one of them managed to grab a life flag. 2 lives left, but my confidence was still there. I reunited with my team by the time we got out of the mall via the main entrance and managed to have a team picture with them (see above). Then there’s the last road to salvation, the last 400m to the finish line, I have my original team along with the other team I temporarily tagged along with. With a lone zombie approaching, it took us some time before we started to charge our way to victory. The road had over a dozen of zombies. With 2 lives left and confidence in tow, I was among the leading runners and then a very fast zombie manage to grab a life flag, 1 left, but still running. Midway through, I was still running and a zombie was about to grab my last life flag, but slipped and fell to the ground. The zombie didn’t attack anymore when I fell to the ground, it was luck. I quickly recovered and run, stopping in the middle to catch my breathe and check myself. I was injured, knees bleeding, my belt bag which contains my cellphone and car keys, was detached because a zombie attack. The zombies are approaching us in the center of the street, some people screaming injury, probably hoping it will lessen the aggressiveness of the zombies. I couldn’t put my belt bag to my waist, so I just hold it and run. I ran so hard, probably my fastest running speed at the time, while holding my belt bag and ignoring the pain of my injuries. I got past the zombies and nearing the finish line, I slowed down and walked, breathing heavily. There was a lone slow zombie that can be easily avoided, I didn’t even run because I was so tired and he was probably just there for one final spook. I survived, injured, but with a life flag left. I rehydrated and got my injuries tended by the medics, I found my original teammates again and said our goodbyes. I couldn’t remember their names. It was a great night, I was injured, but it felt good. I was so satisfied with what I have accomplished and I had fun, so much fun. It was the beginning of my life with running events. I started as a weekend jogger in 2012, I joined my 1st fun run in 2013. This year, I joined different kinds of running events like obstacles runs, more zombie runs, run for a cause, night runs, and any run that seem unique, rewarding, and of course, fun, you can bet on my participation. By the time of writing this article I joined and survived 2 more Outbreak Missions, I just finished a 10km obstacle run yesterday, and my 1st half-marathon will be next week. You will never know if you like something unless you try it, I’m glad I decided to join Outbreak Missions (I’m now a fan of the series). One run started it all and the outcome is a milestone, something I will always remember for the rest of my life.