When runners move quickly through a race, they're often cheered on, in their own minds, by those they trained with or the idols and coaches who motivated them to take up jogging.
Less likely to be an on-the-course motivator? Zombies. We don't want to make an assumption here, as every runner goes to his or her own internal inspirations, but the shambling undead tend not to play a factor in pumping runners up in most pounding-the-pavement events.
There are exceptions, though, like the Claremont Zombie Run.
Nope, runners who join the Saturday, May 3 event, which will raise funds for the Red Cross, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in addition to other organizations, will not be dressed as zombies. Nor will they be running a straight road where the occasional zombie may be easily spied.
Rather, participants'll be winding around the up-and-down-and-through-the-brush paths of the Rancho Santa Fe Botanic Garden. Know this bucolic spot? Then you know that it isn't always easy to see around the next corner, or over a tall shrub, given the beautiful Southern California vegetation clustered throughout the expansive property.
Which means this: When runners arrive at forks along their routes, which they absolutely will, choosing the one that has fewer zombies ready to chase them is the smartest move. But how to know? And can one be fleet-footed enough to outpace a draggy moaner intent on nabbing the flags found on the runners' belts?
The spirit of the day is, well, spirited, and certainly charitable, with a hefty dose of tongue-in-cheek (make whatever further zombie references you'd like to there). Yep, horror film fans who like to tie on the tennies and hoof it will be out in force, as well as those who want to raise money for good causes and have some laughs -- as well as some screams and groans -- in the process.
And how often do zombies come out to play outside of the autumn? Well, more frequently, given their continual ascendance in pop culture.
Just run fast, participants, and if you can't see around the next bush or flower-covered wall, tread very, very carefully.