In the event of a real zombie apocalypse, Kevin Chilcoat would be the man reaching for his camera, rather than a shotgun.
Chilcoat would be fearless in the face of an undead outbreak tomorrow, because it’s what he does for a living today.
“I’m desensitized to it,” Chilcoat said.
The Cockeysville native is responsible for documenting the popular Run For Your Lives, zombie 5k, which infects Darlington, MD this weekend. He started out shooting promo videos, working his way up to national commercials with he and his brother’s company, HGL Productions.
Now he has the unusual title of “zombie wrangler.”
“They saw what we could do organizing 250 extras playing zombies and just asked us if we could take this off of their plate for them,” Chilcoat said.
The Run For Your Lives commercials have aired during The Walking Dead season premiers and finales. The AMC zombie horror/drama features a cast of survivors who—pardon the pun—must run for their lives.
“Every time the commercial aired the website was crashing left and right,” Chilcoat said.
The 27-year-old Dulaney High (2003) graduate and Towson University film major described himself as a “huge film nerd,” making him the exemplary candidate to rig a 5k obstacle course with flesh eating soulless corpses.
“This is a 5k for a wider demographic than just your average 5k, like Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder or Spartan Race,” Chilcoat explained. “By incorporating zombies in it you get to live out that weird, twisted fantasy of getting chased by zombies.”
The objective of the 5k is to complete the race, traversing man-made obstacles and muddy terrain, while being chased by 250 actors playing zombies.
Talk about motivation. Runners who “survive” finish the course with at least one of three flags still attached to their belts.
Run For Your Lives has been a phenomenon selling out race spots across the country. The popularity of the run in Darlington this weekend proved so popular that organizers had to include a second day, which—three days out—is at 90 percent capacity.
“I’m really not trying to fully, outwardly appreciate it as much as I should, just so I can keep a level head,” Chilcoat said. “They fly us all around the country and we get to see and experience different things every time.”
Most recently, Chilcoat said he filmed a zombie engagement proposal.
“It was a really genuine moment,” he said.
Very touching, Kevin. But back to the blood and guts.
But the love between two zombies isn’t common. The two kinds of zombies won’t hesitate to welcome you into their undead collective at these races.
There will be stumblers.
“That’s your George Romero or Shaun of the Dead, old school zombies that attack in mass,” Chilcoat explained.
And there will be chasers, “the 28 Days Later, newer fully sprinting zombie.”
Every race employees 750 zombie volunteers, “they were the first thing to sell out in 2012,” Chilcoat said. “The obstacles themselves aren’t even that hard.”
Chilcoat manages the 750 actors—in full zombie makeup—who work throughout race days in three shifts.
Chilcoat teased about what could be the future of the Run For Your Lives race.
“[Imagine] If they were to close down city streets and doing it in a more urban setting—the sky is the limit,” Chilcoat said.
Are you running for your life this weekend?