Airmen run from zombies

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Linda Welz
  • 452 AMW public affairs
With Halloween just around the corner, it isn't surprising that March reservists were chased by zombies here Sunday, Oct. 14.

The 452nd Air Mobility Wing Rising Six organization sponsored its first 5K Zombie Run, to raise money for Military Ball tickets for junior enlisted members via donations.

Having planned the event for four months, they hope to recreate it and improve on it every October, said Tech. Sgt. Arnaldo Ibarrientos, 452nd Maintenance Operations Squadron and the organization's president.

This was a joint effort and they had a lot of help from chiefs and first sergeants who pushed the word out to their respective squadrons, Ibarrientos said.

"The wing Rising Six put a lot of work into this and with the support of base leadership, we really had a sense of teamwork from everyone," he said. Doing this annually will give other junior enlisted and NCOs a chance to plan, lead and work as a team, he added.

Approximately 30 zombie participants arrived before sunrise to apply makeup to each other. They included March reservists, civilians, dependents and Civil Air Patrol Squadron 107 volunteers. The sun rose to them practicing their zombie grunts and walks while runners began to show up, most in their U.S. Air Force physical training uniform, to register.

The runners' goal was to make it through both zombie zones twice and cross the finish line with at least one of their two football flags intact. Prizes would be awarded to the first three runners to accomplish the goal.

The zombies' goal was to strip the runners of all flags as they transitioned the zombie zones. The rules of engagement were that runners must remain on the track, not protect each other and zombies could not block the runners.

As zombies headed out to their zombie zones to strategize, the 120-plus runners gathered to stretch and warm up.

It looked and sounded like a rehearsal for Michal Jackson's Thriller video as his music filled the area as Riverside resident, Dominique Ariaza, guided runners through the choreography.

Finally, runners took their marks and were off!

Laughs, growls and screams were heard and flags were flying as a result of being ripped off while runners sprinted through the two zones.

"When I hit the first zombie zone someone snuck up behind me and yanked off my first flag," said Tech. Sgt. Mary Johanson, 4th Combat Camera Squadron. "Then I saw (zombie) Erica Knight from my unit. I knew she was going to chase me and she's super fast, so I had to switch gears and get going, but she still caught me."

Combat Camera personnel, about 80 in all, who routinely do physical training during Unit Training Assemblies, opted to run the race this month in lieu of their normal PT, said Knight.

"I'm a slow runner and some of those zombies were really fast but it made running fun. We got to play around and get chased. Had we run before the sun came up, so that we couldn't have seen the zombies, it would have created a scarier run and turned the ambiance into zombiance," she added.

The first five runners to cross the finish line may have been the fastest but their flags had been stolen by the zombies, Ibarrientos said. The next three across, all men, won first, second and third places for making it all the way with at least one flag. The first woman to survive the Zombie Run with one streamer was Senior Airman Kimberly Lopez, 752nd Medical Squadron.

It's not too late to zombie-fie yourself or sign up to challenge a zombie here at the next Zombie Run on Oct. 21. For more information, contact Tech. Sgt. Arnaldo Ibarrientos.