Zombie Run “Survives” Debacle

This race has been through one hell of a week. It was cancelled on Wednesday, resurrected on Thursday, the course was built-out on Friday and over 2,000 runners participated on Saturday morning.

Those kinds of shenanigans have to take a toll on the quality of the “experience.” Of course, on Wednesday, it didn’t look as if there was any “experience” to be had. So, let’s look at the good with the bad.

The organization of this race was top-notch and it was a major victory that it was even held.

On Wednesday morning, Reed Street Productions (RSP) contacted their course management team in Phoenix to let them know that the race was cancelled and instructed them to pack up the semi-trailer and wait for further instructions. After the trailer was packed, they received another call to and discovered that they had been laid off and it was on them to settle their hotel bills and get back to Baltimore.

On Thursday morning, Human Movement Management (HMM) called the former RSP staffers to let them know that they would be arriving later that night and that the race was back on. HMM would be covering their bills and the RSP staffers would stay on to help ensure that the race would be true to the RFYL experience. There was a massive flurry of activity all-day Friday which culminated in a successful fire/safety inspection on Saturday morning at 0600 (kudos to the County inspectors who were up that early).

There were some casualties from this last minute scramble. The infrastructure for an obstacle race was largely absent. There were no showers or bag check tents. The power for the make-up station came from the ranch house, resulting in an awkward outage when two make-up artists tried to use their hair dryers simultaneously.

But the friendly and helpful attitude of both the staff and the racers more than made up for any shortfalls. All runners and zombies who registered under the RSP version of the race were able to run for free – even if their bank refunded the money. They did not solicit funds to make up for the losses they took for putting on the race. Those who asked to donate money* to HMM were simply thanked and told that they could “repay” HMM by telling their friends or registering for one of their upcoming races. The runners and zombies who showed up were grateful that HMM came in to salvage the event and this attitude contributed to a communal sense of friendliness.
*Editor’s note: In case you didn’t catch it, racers were offering donations to HMM. People who had been let down without refunds were willing to give money to Human Movement Management to show their appreciation.

The course itself was a bit short of inspiring. It measured a little less than three miles and had seven obstacles. The course was mostly packed dirt road and the obstacles were simple enough for anyone to get through without help. There were no water Running from Zombiesobstacles on the course and whatever mud they had planned dried up before the race began. The course was well-marked, as HMM brought out their banners and signage from their “The Zombie Race” property.

The water and aid stations were well-spaced, but had minimal staffing. The most obvious casualty of RSP’s cancellation was the number of volunteers. The MC asked those who were running in later waves to consider volunteering on the course and some of those folks were gracious enough to do so.

There wasn’t one. This was a rescue operation, pure and simple. The HMM staff had lined up a beer sponsor, but did not receive the liquor permit in time. None of the bands showed and there didn’t seem to be enough power there to run a bunch of amps, lights, etc. There was ample music over the loudspeakers and the ranchers ran a small concession stand for breakfast and lunch.

For those interested in swag, there were t-shirts from “The Zombie Race” series for all participants.

Human Movement Management lived up to their great reputation and held a quality event under unprecedented circumstances. Watching them work throughout the morning, it was apparent that this company knows how to stage events and that their staff produced amazing work under adverse circumstances. My group had a great time and will look for opportunities to sign up for another HMM run in the near future.

Bill Murphy is computer security analyst who works part-time in the Naval Reserves.  He refuses to run more than a mile unless there is some sort of mud, blood or electricity or high wall on the course.  His deployment blog can be found at http://iscmurphy.blogspot.com/

**Editor’s Postscript
In a surprising turn of events, Reed Street Productions sent out this email today to their customer database.

Attention, you are receiving this email as official information confirming that Run For Your Lives events have been cancelled. The inaccurate information you have been receiving regarding another company putting on this event is both misleading and misrepresented. Run For Your Lives assets – including but not limited to communication channels – have been illegally acquired, used and controlled. Further, deceitful information is being used to confuse current ticket holders – further contributing to any refund improbability. Accurate information cannot be found by contacting this other entity – and they are blocking any comments on social channels from people with complaints or concerns – populating these channels with selective praise from few participants and their employee’s. We are sorry they are further hurting your situation with such illegal and inaccurate information – solely for their financial benefit.


We at ORM are unclear at this point the motives behind this statement. Especially considering Run For Your Lives were quoted in the Baltimore Sun just a few days ago agreeing to allow HMM to take over.

If you read the latest from the RFYL Facebook page, consumers who were at this past weekend’s events appear to be taking the side of Human Movement Management.

Latest posts by Bill Murphy (see all)

  1. Another situation where a race director (in this case, ex-race director) needs a social media consultant to tell them how to respond to a crisis.

  2. It’s truly been a circus over on Facebook. RSP/RFYL really could benefit from a social media consultant. But they probably fired that person. What a debacle. I’ve been watching and selectively participating in discussion in it all day. Curious to see how this will progress. From my standpoint and from a PR standpoint, RSP is going teenage-brat style all over this via their “Zombie Horde” Facebook, including a little bit of character defamation and a dash of slander. I even took screenshots.
    HMM has been, for all intents and purposes, pretty level headed with this. It just goes to show that when a business wants to continue and values their audience, they don’t go running their mouths about the other guy.

    1. Be careful what you say, I informed them that they were being passive agressive in their comments and that if they had a different story than tell it instead of hint at it so they deleted me from the zombie horde page (and, i’m betting, deleted my comment as well!)

      1. Oh I’m certain they blocked me after I called them teenage brats and to back up before they ruin what little was left of their reputation as a company. I have no idea how to post the screenshots from my phone, sorry!

  3. William Ward, former vice president of marketing for Run for Your Lives LLC, said the company’s head, Ryan Hogan, agreed to let Human Movement take over the zombie runs at no cost. He said the company handed over its list of people who bought tickets to Human Movement Management.
    “We’re trying to do as good by the people who bought tickets as possible,” he said. “People that purchased the tickets who still want to go can still do the event.

    Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bs-ae-run-for-your-lives-zombie-20131031,0,419777.story#ixzz2jhvRgIDf

  4. Regarding the weird email, here’s what I’ve been able to piece together (based on the obscure and rather passive-aggressive posts of a short-lived FB Community called “Run for Your Lives Zombie Horde, which appears to have been some Reed Street folks before the account was deleted or canceled):

    Disclaimer: this is all purely speculation on my part!!

    I *think* Reed Street gave Human Movement their non-material assets like registration lists, access to the FaceBook RFYL page, and probably the rights to use the name “Run for Your Lives” at no cost to HM. HM has said a couple times that they “weren’t getting a dime” from Reed Street (a true statement in terms of actual cash). However, RS thinks that HM is “misrepresenting” things because the non-material assets are “worth” up to $300K in their (RS) estimation. So (according to RS), HM is getting a lot out of the deal, but not advertising that fact.

    Considering that the RFYL brand has been (in my opinion) incredibly damaged by RS’s mismanagement, I don’t believe the brand is worth much of anything. It may even be a liability as potential customers confuse the company that screwed everyone over (RS) with the company that is trying to salvage the race (HM). But I suspect the whole “value of the brand” issue is what RS is complaining about.

    Disclaimer: again, this is all speculation on my part!

    1. You are probably not far off. Material vs non-material assets play a big part in corporate valuation, and I’m betting they won’t be valued much after this.

  5. Sounds like RFYL is and should be embarrassed for their actions and poor management knowing a company can come in and put on the race in such a short amount of time. Seriously, it’s a low blow.

  6. A mega-sized ‘ATTA-BOY! to Human Movement! I wasn’t registered for a RFYL, but I’ll echo Bill Murphy on this; I’m going to keep an eye out for any of their events and dog-ear them for registration.

    Now that I look, I see that they’re responsible for the 5K Foam Fest, which was my first-ever OCR.

    Kudos, Human Movement!

  7. I ran the Phoenix race this past weekend, and I’m grateful to Human Movement for going way above and beyond to make it happen. Yes, the race itself was a bit disappointing, given the sparse obstacles and completely featureless terrain – but it sure looks like Reed Street wouldn’t have done much more if they hadn’t cancelled the event. If Reed Street comes out of this intact somehow, I’ll certainly urge folks to stay away from their events, and strongly recommend Human Movement (and back that up with my own participation, too).

    One side note; I volunteered to help get people checked in at the beginning of the race before I ran. Human Movement definitely had the registration list from Reed Street – we were using it to check in runners and zombies. I don’t know how HM would have gotten that other than it being voluntarily given to them by Reed Street.

    1. I was a volunteer at the race in phx., and helped check people in. I agree that HM most definitely got the list of registered participants from RFYL people. HM were great!! Very nice people. Looking forward to more events with HM!!!

  8. I was there the race was GREAT! I cant wait to run in thier dirty girl race I can only imagine how much better it will be when they actually have time to plan

  9. Next turn will have people eating zombies, me beating Hobie Call, and comfortable, mud shucking waterproof lightweight durable self climbing shoes. Do believe a full moon about same time as this happened.

  10. I am still not sure we are getting the full story from either sides. I do not believe RS were in a position to just give out peoples information, from a data protection and bankruptcy point of view. When entering bankruptcy all assets become property of the debtors, so what right did they have to give out participant contact details and data, a key to the valuation of the company. Unless someone is making some last ditch money from this whole deal.

    I believe HMM were only after the mailing list. The cost for them to put on three low key, basic standard events is negligible compared to what they would have had to have paid for a database of over 100,000 people, and a Facebook page of 750,000. Remember everyone included in the database were not informed of the transfer of data, or given an opportunity to decline the transfer, breaking most data protection rules.

    Not to mention the hero status they get from resurrecting the events from the dead, even if they are of a much lower standard compared to that of the Run For Your Lives events (of which I attended three). I can hear everyone saying that at least they staged something, but see my reasoning above.

    HMM have also stated they plan to stage all the 2014 Run For Your Lives events, but note that they will miss the key elements of a RFYL event. There are no lives, so everyone is a winner, no medals, but all for $45 (thezombierun.com/about/)

    So are HMM really heros? Maybe in the eyes of those that lost money and a race entry with RFYL, but if you read between the lines, is it all above board or have they just made the ultimate steal in event organizing history?

    1. Once emotion is pulled out of the equation, the dots are very easy to connect. Simple questions should raise immediate red flags with respect to the HMM’s claims. And the slander is despicable.

      Unless this gets settled out of court, the truth will come out in federal court. Hopefully, Obstacle Race Media will stop playing into Human Movement’s hand and start uncovering the facts regarding “the ultimate steal in event organizing history”.

      1. You people suck!!! Always looking for the “wrong”, in situations. You are taking the side of a company who took our money and ran. RFYL is at fault, period. HM didnt “steal”anything, and even if they did get the database in a, underhanded way, (this is pure speculation), who cares . At least they tried to save the day. So go and talk bad about some other company, oh like RFYL, Reed st productions, they deserve it!

        1. Kristi,

          No offense but this appears to be the same fact-less line of thought fueling this fire. We only know what we’re told – and we’ve only heard one side of the story.

          If a deal was made between HMM and RSP – and service is provided – how did RSP steal anything? That’s like buying a book from Amazon, Amazon making a deal so the customers don’t get screwed before dissolving, you receiving the book and saying “Screw you Amazon for taking our money and leaving us high a dry.” Wait. What? You received your book as purchased. The book was ripped? Then the company that took control through a business transaction is responsible. That company is pointing fingers? Then maybe there’s some bigger issues at hand.

          Two cents.

    2. Has Reed Street entered bankruptcy? Had they done so at the time they gave up their assets to HMM? I suspect they won’t be filing for bankruptcy at all, as that would mean they have to account for the cash on hand from all of those last minute registrations they solicited. No, the head of that company is long gone, as evidenced by the self-removal of his LinkedIn profile…

      1. An interesting thought Bill.

        I also see the RFYL Facebook page no longer up, and event the HMM Zombie Run page is gone too …

      2. Yes they filed bankruptcy on Friday Nov 8. Maybe somebody knows more to help me with an issue with this matter, Here is a copy of an email that explains what I’m seeking.

        Jerry Foreman,

        I read on themudrunguide.com that you assisted with obstacle set up on Nov 1 for a race produced by Human Movement Mgmt.

        I would like to speak with you for information on property that was offloaded from the orange 53’Dry Van trailer that was at the site.

        I’ve been informed from Norman Wellington the race site property owner that it was loaded onto 2 U Haul Trucks and the balance went into the dumpster there.

        Jeff Suffolk states that none of it was used and was left there. We discovered today that 40 Motorola 2 Way Phones are in his possession that were on the truck when it arrived.

        We are seeking the location of the pumps, generators, power tools, etc.

        Please call me to discuss 717-435-5350.

        Or if you know anything else that would be helpful to the 229 creditors named on the filing please contact the below

        Richard M. Kremen
        DLA Piper LLP (US)
        The Marbury Building
        6225 Smith Avenue
        Baltimore, MD 21209-3600
        (410) 580-4494
        Email: trustee.kremen@dlapiper.com

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