Things to Consider Before Joining the Zombie Horde

Author: Robert Browne of


As a costume expert, and an avid runner, my friends often ask me about zombie runs.  Do people really dress up like zombies?  Is it hard running in that much stuff?  How do you breathe with a mask on?!  These are all important questions to consider before you become a mindless, bloodthirsty, brain-hungry, zombie and chase people for 3.1 miles.  Thankfully, I’m here to offer my expert advice!  Here are the dos and don’ts to being a zombie for a 5k.


First up are the big considerations, you need to think about where and when you will be racing. Geographic location and the season can have a major impact on whether or not you decide to go full zombie outfit or take a more minimalistic zombie approach with tattered clothes (which allow for good airflow) and effects makeup.  Traditionally, zombie runs are typically held earlier or later in the racing season in the hopes the weather is cooler.  This allows for more complete zombie attire.

Second, be prepared to get dirty! Really dirty! Who knows how many times you might slip or fall while relentlessly pursuing terrified humans?! I don’t recommend coming to the race with a costume you want to keep in pristine condition.  For example, your authentic zombie mask used during the filming of 28 Days Later, might be a bad idea.  Weather will also play a factor with how dirty the race can be.  If it rains, it won’t matter how careful you are, you will get dirty.

Makeup! Makeup is ideal for any zombie run!  The simplest application of red paint can make it look like you’ve been feasting on brains for the last few days.  I recommend using paint, or makeup that won’t ‘run’ when wet.  I sweat…a LOT…when I run, and it’s not fun putting time and effort into your makeup only to look like a weeping teen stood-up at prom by the end of the race (regardless of how terrifying that may sound!).  Plus, makeup can sting if it gets in your eyes. Also, be mindful about how you attach any prosthetics, fake skin, growths, or flesh.  You bounce while running and the vibrations can take their toll on any adhesive. Secure these items well.

Make sure to have your full range of motion in any costume you adorn.  You do not want any restriction to your normal running stride as this could cause muscle fatigue, soreness, and even lead to injury.  Also, be mindful of the material as certain fabrics can lead to chafing.  You may want to wear running appropriate clothing, like lycra, under your outfit.


I always like to go full zombie when I can, it is a zombie run after all, but dehydration and heat stroke are all things to consider before using a full costume; a full costume meaning long sleeve shirt, pants, mask, wig, and gloves.  Masks can be terrifying, but make sure they don’t obstruct your vision and breathing.

This costume is full on zombie, but allows unrestricted vision and breathing.

You don’t want to run into anything and you will be winded by running, so having a restricting mask may not be great if you plan on running hard the entire race.  Ventilation is critical if you decide to cover yourself from head to toe.  Some quick tips to help: cut ventilation holes in the wig, armpits, mask, and even the crotch of pants to allow for air flow and evaporation.   These areas generate the most heat and the head allows for a lot of heat to escape the body.  If it’s cold weather for your run, which can happen, then you have no reason to not go full zombie! The outfit will help regulate your body temp the same as cold weather running gear.


Finally, quality footwear is always essential in any race.  I wear my normal racing shoes only because I feel comfortable in them, plus I catch more human prey.  If you want to wear something besides trainers, be mindful of the course. Will there be obstacles? Will you have to run on gravel/pavement/cement? Will you run through mud traps?  These are all reasons why I always like wearing a good pair of running shoes. You can always wash your shoes if they get nasty.


To recap, be mindful of the weather, location, season you are racing in, and be adaptable to changing conditions if necessary.  Only wear clothes you’re okay with getting dirty or stinky.  Makeup is a great and easy way to look like a zombie without covering your airway and allows for maximum head ventilation.  If you fully dress yourself, which is a blast, make sure you are not restricting range of motion, are taking measures to keep from overheating, and capturing as many human morsels as possible.


Oh! Don’t forget! Bring a towel and a dry change of clothes for after the race!  You will get sweaty, maybe even wet, and you may want to change for the after-race party.   Even if you aren’t taking part in the festivities, bring the clothes. You may not want to go home as a zombie.  Then again, maybe you wish you were always zombie…

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