The transformation came courtesy of the Zombie Run 5K, whose race directors Andrew Hudis and Dave Feinman stopped by my office yesterday to talk about the big race on Sunday. Both are local college students—business majors, naturally—who cooked up the idea for a zombie-themed race last summer. After months of planning, including hours spent watching zombie movies on Netflix, they’re now embarking on a nationwide race tour with nearly 20 stops. Sunday’s run at FDR Park kicks off the series; as of yesterday, over 3,500 runners had signed up. Andrew and Dave are confident they’ll hit 4K by close of registration tomorrow, and hope to push it to 4,500. Either way, it’ll be the biggest race in the duo’s portfolio, which includes the Bucks County Half Marathon on April 14th in Tyler State Park.
Dave says they envisioned the race like a Disney World ride: “Disney takes what is otherwise a boring ride and puts a story on top—that’s what makes it fun. We took a boring 5K race and mixed it with a Hollywood-like story about a zombie apocalypse.” A bloody one, at that. The story goes thusly: A tanker tipped and spilled an experimental chemical called C-894 all over FDR Park. It’s now infecting Philadelphians and turning them into zombies. These zombies want to eat your brains (a.k.a. pop a balloon affixed to the back of a flag-football belt that all runners will wear) and infect you. Your task: to get to the end of the 5K loop with your brain still in tact. End scene.
Participants in Sunday’s race can sign up to be runners or zombies. I’m told there will be 250 zombies along the course, all done up in movie-quality zombie makeup. That special effect comes by way of master makeup artist of gore Ruby Mauro, who does makeup at the Field of Screams haunted house near Lancaster every fall and who’s been called upon to do blood-tastic makeup for indie horror flicks. (She includes James Franco and Mila Kunis on her former-client list, so yes, she’s legit.) On Sunday, Ruby will lead a team of 25 pro-makeup artists and a handful of trained volunteers, who will give five-minute zombie makeovers before the race. She says they’ll get all 250 zombies done in an hour and a half. Dang.
Ruby and fellow makeup artist Casey Paul stopped Philly Mag HQ yesterday to zombie-fy me—I got a slightly more involved makeover that took all of 15 minutes—so I could get a preview of Sunday’s blood bath. Check out the photos below to see my transformation from beginning to end. If you want to zombie-fy yourself for the race (or, you know, a casual Thursday night), here are Ruby’s best quick-makeup tips.
1. Think Contour.
Shade the hollows of your face—temples, cheeks, eye sockets—with a color that’s four shades darker (at least) than your skin tone. That’ll help give you the desired gaunt look that all the walking dead have in common.
2. Go Red.
Add red coloring around the eyes and nostrils. “Think of what you look like on your sickest day after you’ve been blowing your nose for hours,” she says. “That’s what you’re going for.”
3. You Really Can’t Overdo It with Blood.
You can find fake blood at costume stores. Make it drip out of your mouth, ears and nose.
4. Add Latex for Authenticity.
Layers of latex is what gives you the visual depth of, say, a bite out of your neck. Ruby used latex on my nose to give a scab-like texture; on my cheek to create a blood-spewing hole; and on my neck, where a zombie presumably took a nice big bite. She used pieces of cotton ball covered in latex to make the wounds 3D. Once they set and dried, she added blood and veins. Note: Taking the latex off was no fun—Ever wax your face? That’s what it feels like—but given the final product, I think it was totally worth it.
5. Don’t Neglect Your Limbs.
Casey spent a lot of time on my arms and hands, making them look dirty and bloody—you know, as if I just came out of the grave or something. Use red, black and brown lip and eye pencils to go to the distance.
6. Go H.A.M. in the Costume Department.
You don’t have to spend a lot of cash on a zombie-appropriate ensemble. Just go to a thrift store and find some clothes (for some reason in many movies, the zombies wear hospital scrubs, Andrew told me, so that’s an idea), then go to town with some scissors to shred them up. If you’re doing your own zombie makeup or getting it done at the race, you definitely don’t want to wear your favorite wicking shirt. It’ll pretty much be ruined if any makeup gets on it, so consider yourself warned.
7. The Pièce de Résistance: Black-stained Teeth.
Once my face, neck and arms were well bloodied, I thought we were done. Nope. The last and final step was rotting the business out of my teeth. That look was achieved with teeth stain (Kryolan, Mehron and Ben Nye all make versions you can find at costume stores). First Ruby dried my teeth with tissue then added the black stain. It was definitely the cherry on the sundae but note: the stuff is ridiculously hard to get off if you don’t have a toothbrush handy, so I don’t recommend using it if you plan to rot your teeth while at work at 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday. Like I did.
Happy Zombie Run! If you run on Sunday, be sure to share your photos with us on Facebook and Twitter, and tag us on Instagram, too! I’m dying (pun intended) to see what you look like.