The only thing more frightening than the zombies was the traffic.
Fledgling company Reed Street Productions held its very first event Saturday — the Run For Your Lives race — on the Ramblewood Campgrounds in Darlington, where participants had to battle an obstacle course, the flag-stealing undead and treacherous parking conditions that caused many to be late for or completely miss their race time and others to get jammed in traffic for miles only to have their cars get stuck in muddy fields.
Despite the traffic trouble, posts on the company's Facebook page from participants have been mostly positive, and Reed Street is already looking ahead to an even better event next year.
Reed Street's co-creator, Derrick Smith, admitted that "we dropped the ball in parking and traffic," but added the company is already working on fixing the issue, mainly an off-site parking lot that could accommodate the thousands of participants, for future events.
"Those are areas to improve on and we're taking steps now to rectify those situations for next year," Smith said. The two biggest points they're working on: "pavement for parking and a more organized system of transportation to and from the parking lot."
Jessica Adams, 35, of Bel Air, had an issue with parking, but was able to make it to her designated race time at 11:30 a.m.
"The parking was not the best, for sure," Adams said. Since the line of people just to get on the shuttle bus to the campgrounds was so long, Adams and her husband, who was there as a spectator, walked the two miles to the location instead of waiting.
Another issue, Adams said, was safety.
She thought the course itself was "pretty dangerous" and feels that the event organizers "should have warned" participants about the possible hazards, including a large body of frigid water.
"In the middle, it [the water] was over my head," she said. "It was so cold and shocking I couldn't move." Adams didn't even know there was a rope participants could use to get through the water. "That's dangerous for someone who isn't so healthy," she added.
Adams also feels that the participants should've been warned about the hills throughout the racecourse.
"It felt like you were mountain climbing rather than running a trail," she said.
Overall, Adams added, the race was "fun" and she plans to participate again next year along with friends who weren't able to run this year.
"The main reason I would run it again next year is because of it being different and in Harford County," Adams said.
On the event's official Facebook page, facebook.com/run.for.your.lives, refunds were offered in a post Monday to those who were unable to race as a result of traffic and parking issues.
"We know we can't give you back your day or time," the post read, "but we'll be offering a full refund to anyone who was signed up between 3-5 p.m. and who didn't have the opportunity to run. We'll also be offering you a free race of your choice for next year, including a race pass, camping pass and parking."
Besides the few bumps in the road, Smith said the race went "really, really well."
"Everyone seemed to really enjoy the course," he said. "We're receiving a lot of feedback from our participants that really enjoyed the race."
According to Smith, the event had 300 volunteers dressed up as zombies, 300 to 400 spectators and 9,600 registered runners.
There were no serious injuries, Smith added, just "a lot of sprained ankles, some broken bones" that were handled by the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company.
For next year, Reed Street plans on having a totally new course.
"I know that we want to go through and enhance and better manage our zombie system," Smith said about improvements the company wants to make. Some of the enhancements will likely include more zombies throughout the course, which will also be "revamped."
"We'll be able to give each participant a new experience," he said.