Mount Union Professor Participates in Zombie Run

September 13, 2012

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Muddy terrain, electric shock and, of course, zombies were only some of the hurdles Dr. Nicole Johnson, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies at Mount Union, encountered during a 5K run a few weekends ago.

Johnson and her husband, fans of AMC’s popular series “The Walking Dead,” found out about the event from a friend who knew of their obsession with the show. Together with her husband and three alums, Milica Bolta ‘12, Cassie Durdel ’12 and Kristen Walker ‘12, Johnson signed up for the race.

Participants in the race must run 5K (approximately 3.1 miles) through mud and water, all while avoiding zombies, in order to reach the finish line. There are multiple trails the runners can take, with obstacles to complete along the way.

“I am not naturally a runner,” said Johnson. “We did a trail run or two through Cuyahoga Valley National Forest during the summer, which was good because the race has very rough terrain, not to mention the zombies.”

Runners are supplied with a belt holding three flags, the runner’s “health,” that the zombies must try to take. Zombies may not take a runner’s flag while he or she is in line for an obstacle, but flags are fair game at all other times. If a runner does not complete an obstacle, their time is not recorded and they become ineligible for prizes.

Those with flags left at the finish are considered survivors of the zombie apocalypse; those with none become zombies upon crossing the finish line and are not eligible for prizes. Health bonuses are hidden throughout the course; successfully carrying one to the finish line saves your life.

“We received little medals at the end for finishing,” said Johnson. “Of the five of us, my husband was the only one with a flag left at the end. We were beat from dodging zombies, flinging ourselves down nearly 100-foot slides into vats of muddy water, crawling on our bellies through tunnels of mud-covered ground and avoiding mild electrical shocks from wires hanging from the ceiling of pitch-black, makeshift huts and mazes.”

At the end of the race, runners and spectators were able to celebrate their survival or zombie transformation at the Apocalypse Party, a fair-like festivity with live music, vendors and local celebrities.

The race was held in Butler, PA at the Switchback Raceway on September 1. There have been similar races throughout the U.S. all summer.

Additional details about the races, including future dates and locations, can be found online at

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