A Tourist’s Guide to Abel

The zombie apocalypse isn’t always filled with cheer; there’s the looming threat of the hungry undead, mad scientists vying to ‘fix’ everything, and the loss of all the things we take for granted – like clean running water and a supermarket stocked with as many Curly Wurlys as we can stomach.

But not everything is bleak! Today we take a look at some of Abel Township’s most entertaining features!

Tequila Shack

The Tequila Shack. Come and enjoy a shot of Pepe’s finest British tequila. Shame lemons are in short supply!

With its twinkling fairy lights salvaged from a Christmas shop and the giant tequila bottle sculpture stood outside, the Tequila Shack is definitely Abel’s most unique building. It’s full of the chatter of living humans, rather the moans of the zombie hordes, and someone has even found a game of Twister to liven things up. Next to the drab housing blocks, the Tequila Shack is a glowing point of welcoming light.

The Tequila Shack was introduced in Season 2 Side Mission 2 ‘Headcount’, where you head out with Janine to attempt a census of the post-apocalyptic world, with varying degrees of success.

Kitten Pen

It’s like a cat cafe, except without the coffee and cake and relative certainty that you’ll survive the night.

Cats: not only are they a pragmatically excellent choice for a post-apocalyptic companion, what with being able to devastate the soaring rat and mouse population, they’re also really cute. With Abel Township growing, it was inevitable that cats would show up sooner or later. Janine insists that it just makes sense to have them to protect the foodstores. Everyone else just likes the comfort of a familiar sight and the therapeutic qualities of stroking a cat are not to be dismissed.

The Kitten Pen was introduced in Season 3 Mission 11 ‘Stray Cat Strut’ where you accompany Zoe and Phil on a feline related adventure that turns up more information than expected.


Concert Area

It’s not exactly the O2 Arena, but it’s also not as expensive as the O2 Arena!

The Concert Area can’t really compare to somewhere like Wembley Arena, and after what happened there during the start of the apocalypse, no-one’s keen to replicate it. But you can always find someone there practising on a rescued instrument or performing an impromptu soliloquy. And who can forget Abel’s monthly slam poetry open-mic evening!

The Concert Area was introduced in Season 2 Side Mission 5 ‘Top 40’, where a hunt for CDs turns into a brush with stardom as you encounter a pop Diva and her moaning fans.

Rollercoaster Car

We’re thinking of doing an experimental Shakespeare performance using it. What if Richard the 3rd, but on a fairground ride?

A relic of a bygone age. While we might have joked about the queue to the biggest ride being full of zombies, that’s become a bit more literal since the apocalypse. A single car isn’t as impressive as an entire rollercoaster (and Janine won’t spare the supplies to build one for some reason), but it’s still become a bit of a tourist attraction at Abel. Sit back and stare up at the sky while imagining a death defying plunge towards the ground, and try not to think too hard about the younger residents looking at it like it’s a piece from a history museum.

The Rollercoaster Car was introduced in Season 3 Mission 60, where you stop a villain and need a quick escape.

Cultural Centre

It’s important to celebrate the things that make us different, especially when the zombies are all the same.

Now more than ever it’s important to remember where we came from. Sure, life has changed dramatically since the apocalypse, and we’re getting the impression that things won’t ever go back to the way they were. The Cultural Centre lets us remember the important things about life before the end. Be it a favourite recipe passed down through the generations, music, or a traditional outfit, you’ll find it here. There’s even a group planning Abel’s first Lion dance event!

The Culture Centre was introduced in Season 4 Mission 11, where you help Sam go shopping for some important items.

Meet The Fans: Emma St. John

Working on Zombies, Run! we’re lucky to have a very dedicated, creative and overall lovely fanbase. We try to celebrate that whenever we can, so we’ve been talking to some of our fans and would now like to introduce the first of our fan interviews!

Today we talk with Emma St. John about music, fanworks, and top tips for using Zombies, Run!

Some of Emma’s amazing Zombies, Run! fanart!

What got you into Zombies, Run!?

I actually got into ZR on the recommendation of a friend, about six years ago now. I was just about to finish up high school and the season for my sport of choice was ending, and I was looking for something to help keep me active. She suggested the app, and while at the time I was wary because I wasn’t super into zombie media, I gave it a shot.

I wound up loving it so much that I wound up going out on more and more runs more often, up to the point I was using it four times a week and getting into the ZR 5K trainer! It totally turned me from someone who always hated running to someone who seriously loved it.

You mentioned that you weren’t really a fan of zombie media. Do you think there’s something about ZR that makes it appealing, even to people who don’t like zombies?

I do think there’s something about ZR that makes it appealing to people who don’t/don’t usually like zombies – I do think there’s something very special about it. I mean, to start, I do think one of the things that helps it be more approachable that most other zombie media is the lack of visuals – there’s a slight level of disconnect from the elements of horror that are usually implemented in zombie media, because there’s no actual visual gore or blood with ZR – it’s all done through audio storytelling.

There’s several other aspects to it for me, but the biggest ones I’d say for sure are the stories and the way it’s written, and the characters. The story was absolutely what got me sucked in when I first started playing – I wanted to find out what happened next so badly it really motivated me to go out on that next run. The overall themes of hope and teamwork and unconventional skills being useful in the apocalypse is something that really appealed to me as well. And then the more I learned about and got to know the characters, the more I totally grew to adore them. They’re so diverse and inclusive, it really felt like there was someone for pretty much everyone to look up to/get attached to.

How do you prepare for a run? Do you have a special routine?

I wouldn’t say I have any sort of particular routine, not really. I try to make sure I run about three times a week, with a few extra walks sprinkled in. I usually get up, prepare myself an ice water for when I get back, feed my dog, and grab my gigantic armband for my phone and head out!

Part of Emma’s running route

What’s your favourite music to run to?

I definitely prefer energetic music – a good tempo keeps me moving. For every season I usually wind up building a new playlist to suit the tone of that season in particular. My ones for the earlier seasons were all very upbeat, and as they seasons go on the music I wind up picking as increased in intensity to match the seasons themselves.

I’m in the middle of working on my S7 one now, actually, because I just wrapped up Season 6. So far it’s being centered around “Champion” and “The Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy.

Emma’s Season 6 Playlist

Your playlist is really cool! How do you go about deciding what songs to centre your playlists around?

I usually look for lyrics that I find fit the theme or mood of the seasons – for the ZRS6 one, for example, ‘Werld is Mine’ is one I really liked because I could sort of find bits of different characters in the lines for the chorus. “Ghosts in Empty Houses” from ‘Interim Semper Currans’ I thought was a great foundation because it felt like it could even possibly be from the perspective of Runner Five.

And then for the one I’m working on for S7, both “Champion” and “Last of the Real ones” had lyrics that made me think of Five and Abel; “If I can live through this/I can do anything”, “You’re the last of a dying breed”, “There’s been a million before me” – all little things like that that just give off a ‘ZR vibe’ are things I like to look for. 

You’re involved in making fanworks. Do you have any fanfic/fanart recommendations?

Of course I do! I’ve always loved the art and fic this fandom creates. Some of my favorite works include Typelikemad’s Season 1 Epsiode illustrations this drawing of Sara by tumblr user Thaumivore (though sadly I think they’ve deleted their blog) and this super cute Hoodie 5 by illustratedacorns, and some of my favorite fics are “Scavenger” by Straydog733, this post-Season 3 Fic about Jamie, Maxine, and Five being bros by Puptart (big S3 spoilers warning on this one) and “Wolves” by TheTalkingCrocus (season 4 spoiler warnings)

More of Emma’s fanart, featuring Runner 5!

What is your top tip for using Zombies, Run!?

Honestly my top tip has always been just ‘have fun’! ZR is something that I’ve loved very, very dearly, and I’ve always loved the attitude the creators have about making fitness fun, because that’s what ZR did for me. I’ve been using it for ages now, at every level of fitness – there were times at my most fit where I was running five miles/8 km per mission, and there were times where I just listened to it while walking my dog because that’s the most I could manage. And it’s always been something I’ve wanted to come back to, something that’s made me enjoy getting out and moving and made me want to do it more.

To me, ZR really a really fun, unique experience. It’s something I love sharing with my friends and with the fandom. It’s always been a very important spark of joy in my life.

Thank you so much to Emma for talking with us! You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.


Matt’s Zombie Apocalypse Squad

It’s a discussion that everyone must have at some point in their lives, one that has haunted mankind for years. Who would you have on your zombie apocalypse survival squad?

We’re no strangers to this question here at Six to Start – after all, we spend a pretty big chunk of our time considering the undead and making them come to life in Zombies, Run!. And now we set out to answer that most pressing of questions as we ask the team, which Zombies, Run! characters would you choose to support you in the zombie apocalypse?

A different kind of “Puff, Puff, Pass”.CC-BY wheatfields

I am under absolutely no illusions about my survivability in the apocalypse. I’m asthmatic, hard of hearing and generally cowardly. So my priorities are a little different from everyone else’s: I want to pick the five folks with whom I will have the most fun before the inevitable happens. This is my Zombie Apocalypse Party Squad.

First up, unsurprisingly, is Mr Party himself Jack Holden. He began the apocalypse at a rave, and I’m counting on him to help me get my post-apocalyptic party started. A keen musical ear and an… idiosyncratic dancing style mean Jack’s going to be my main man on the dance floor.

No party is complete without supplies and no-one’s better equipped to get them than Amelia Spens. Whatever we need, she’s sure to be able to get her hands on it, and she’s well known for her own decadent tastes. So long as we all agree to let her manage the guest list, we should be well taken care of.

“No, Jack, we are not doing the Monster Mash again”. Photo by Ardian Lumi

At every great party, there’s a moment where you see through the crowd someone you didn’t think would turn up and are greeted with the biggest hug ever and it makes your night. I’m inviting Sam Yao for just that purpose.

No-one can go hard all night, so it’s always good to have some folk around who you can rely on for fascinating conversation while you catch your breath. It’s also nice to have someone there to reassure you that your dancing looks as good as you think it does. Who better to hold down both roles than Dr Lobatse? No matter what point the evening gets to, she’d make it better with a story from her past. I really do think she’s the most interesting person in the world.

And finally, the most crucial person for a good party is the friend who’s not only a metric tonne of fun while the music’s playing, but who’ll help you do the dishes in the morning while you pick over the previous night’s events. It’s a huge boon if they also make a lovely cup of tea. Jody Marsh, come on down!

Who’d be in your Abel Apocalypse Party Squad? Tell us in the comments!

New Adventures: Lewis and Clark

In our very first New Adventure for Zombies, Run!, you’re travelling back to 1804 to accompany Lewis & Clark on the Corps of Discovery Expedition from Pittsburgh, PA. all the way to the Pacific coast – that’s 3,700 miles!. You’ll be guided through the route by your personal automated travel companion who’ll also make sure you don’t get lost in time!

Sadly, we can’t actually send you back in time (yet!), but we hope that our New Adventure will give you a vivid glimpse of history. We’ve spoken with Alex Acks, the writer of the Lewis & Clark story, about their experience of researching and writing the race!

What made you decide on the Lewis & Clark expedition as the basis for a race?

I was pitching ideas for historical journeys, which are a bit harder to come by than you might think. Or more, ones that are famous enough to be recognizable and yet self-contained enough to be made into a run aren’t that common. Lewis & Clark is one I hit on because it met those criteria, and because I knew just enough about it to know it would be exciting before I started more in-depth research.

I think it was also on my mind because I’d recently visited my parents in Boise, and there’s a statue in the Idaho Botanical Gardens of Sacagawea, with a bunch of plants that she showed to Lewis planted around it. So there was an opportunity to look at a historical expedition with a female member!

The race takes the form of a time-travel tour, with your very own guide. What made you choose this framing device, rather than doing a straight run-down of the events?

The journey is so long in both distance and time that I wanted a device that would allow us to skip to the interesting bits, so to speak. Because a lot of it was a day to day slog of men walking long distances and eating appalling amounts of boiled meat.

Which was the most fun part to write?

The bit in Montana, which may not be the most exciting or historically significant… but to me, it was an opportunity to try to describe what the mountain west is like to people who have never seen it.

Montana, scenery, lewis and clark, discovery crops expedition, expedition
unsplash-logoMike Petrucci

What was the most interesting thing you found out while researching the race?

In Stephen E. Ambrose’s book UNDAUNTED COURAGE, he described how Lewis and Clark were basically acting as arms dealers to the Native Americans too. While they didn’t actually trade many guns – they couldn’t, because they needed them for their own party to hunt – they were out there showing off American weapons technology to people who hadn’t seen it yet. And then of course, the big sales pitch was effectively, “we’ll sell you all these super awesome guns, but you’d better only use them to hunt animals – no shooting the other Native Americans!” Which I actually found really funny in a horrible way, because boy have things not changed.

Anything you would have loved to include but had time limits?

I really wish I could have gotten more in there about the part of the mission that was diplomacy with the Native Americans. There were a lot of little incidents, both hostile and not that would have added dimension.

Also, you’ll notice that this is only half the journey. After the winter, the party had to turn around and go all the way back, and there are definitely some interesting stories as well. Though part of why I cut it off at the arrival to the Pacific is that the return journey has a real downer of an ending: after his triumphant return, Lewis basically squanders all of the goodwill he’s earned, does a terrible job of being the governor of all the new territory, and then shoots himself.

The enamel race pin, designed by Kascha Sweeney. Buy it in the Lewis & Clark race pack for just $25!

How did you go about planning and outlining the race script?

I looked at a lot of timelines and maps of the journey that were already written, and then tried to match up the major points with interesting stories that could go with them… like the arrival in Montana coinciding with them encountering their first grizzly bear.

Is there anything you hope people take away from running it?

Something that I’m not confident I did the best job with–the fact that viewed from one side, this was a massive journey into an unknown continent… but the continent wasn’t really unknown. There were lots of people living there already, who obviously knew their land well and were often extremely welcoming toward a nation that was set to treat them very poorly in short order.

So there’s a tension between this exciting, cool journey where people basically walked across the really wide bit of America, which is an enormous undertaking by any standard… and just the very idea that the purpose was to map “purchased” land that didn’t actually belong to the people who had sold it.

Also, on a lighter note, America is ridiculously big and mountains make everything difficult.


The Lewis and Clarke race is available in the New Adventures tab of the Zombies, Run! app now! Thank you very much to Alex Acks for talking with me about the race. You can find them at https://katsudon.net/

Ciaran’s Zombie Apocalypse Squad

It’s a discussion that everyone must have at some point in their lives, one that has haunted mankind for years. Who would you have on your zombie apocalypse survival squad?

We’re no strangers to this question here at Six to Start – after all, we spend a pretty big chunk of our time considering the undead and making them come to life in Zombies, Run!. And now we set out to answer that most pressing of questions as we ask the team, which Zombies, Run! characters would you choose to support you in the zombie apocalypse?

First up in my team is Janine de Luca. A genius electrician, survivalist, and spy, with a few tricks up her sleeve, Janine has a whole load of practical skills which would be invaluable in the apocalypse. Beyond that, she’s level-headed enough to keep her cool even in the most stressful of situations.

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

A possibly controversial choice, but next up is Amelia Spens. Sure, you’d have to keep an eye on her every second of the day and be thinking three steps ahead to stop her from double crossing you, but the zombie apocalypse is about more than fighting the undead – it’s about diplomacy. And knowing people. And rooting out the dark secrets of your enemies to ensure your own survival. Something that Amelia is a master of.

Peter Necropolis/Lynne is my next choice. He’s not the smoothest of guys, and his snark can get a bit exhausting, but who doesn’t want a man who is immune to zombies and semi-immortal on your apocalypse team? It’s like turning down Captain America for the Avengers!

No apocalypse squad would be complete without a medic. And for me, that has to be Doctor Kefilwe Lobatse. Calm and self-assured, Lobatse has the perfect bedside manner, and has worked in the worst sorts of situations – and that was before the zombies arrived! It’s easy to become a monster of the non-undead kind in the apocalypse, but Lobatse’s strong sense of justice will help to keep you on the right path.

Last, but not least, is Sam Yao. Every apocalypse squad needs a radio operator, and every runner needs a Sam Yao to guide them back to that red light on the tower back at base. His upbeat attitude and light-hearted chatter is the perfect balance to Janine’s severe demeanour. Even in the darkest of times, you need to discuss the important things in life – like your favourite pre-apocalypse TV shows.

radio tower with red light
photo by Steve Halama


What’s on Adrian’s playlist?

Last month we checked out Ciaran’s playlist – now it’s Adrian’s turn!

Adrian Hon – CEO and Co-creator

So I’m going to share the secret behind my music playlists for races! It’s a very reliable and predictable formula: I always start with an up-tempo song that gets me excited but isn’t too fast, because let’s face it – you can’t actually run that quickly when you’re stuck in the pack. Some good starting songs:

  • Come On! Feel The Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens:
  • At Least it Was Here (“Community” Main Title) by The 88
  • A Thief’s End (Uncharted 4) by Henry Jackman

Once the pack starts to thin out, I want a few songs that’ll settle me into a nice, solid, bouncy rhythm – again, not too fast, but not too slow. If I’m doing a half marathon, I might have 5-10 songs along these lines:

  • Lose Yourself to Dance by Daft Punk
  • Extreme Ways by Moby
  • Lost Coastlines by Okkervil River
  • Feel the Lightning by Dan Deacon

Now we’re around halfway through the race and it’s time for me to put on a burst of speed (as Sam would say)! Usually, other runners are starting to flag at this point, so it’s really satisfying to do a few sprints and overtake people. Fast, short, intense pop songs and movie soundtracks that I can best describe as “determined” are what’s necessary. Stuff that makes you feel like a hero:

  • Spider-Man Loves You by Daniel Pemberton
  • I Have to Try (The Flash) by Blake Neely
  • Brother’s Keeper (Uncharted 4) by Henry Jackman
  • My Shot (Hamilton) by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Portions for Foxes by Rilo Kiley

In a 5K or 10K race, I’ll usually be close to the end and I can round out my playlist with some longer, fun songs. In a half-marathon, things get trickier since I find it pretty easy to lose steam here. Here’s some great songs that keep my spirits up as I get closer to the finishing line:

  • Tron Legacy (End Titles) by Daft Punk
  • End Titles (Moulin Rouge) by Craig Armstrong
  • Moog Necklace (Ocean’s 8) by Daniel Pemberton
  • It’ll Get You There by Rilo Kiley
  • Despair by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yep, there’s a lot of movie-closing soundtracks there! These work really well because they’re longer and reprise all the main themes in the movie in a satisfying and, yes, distracting way.

I rotate between five or six different race playlists for 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons, and of course I always love adding new songs. The only problem is that I tend to listen to my favorite songs to destruction, so I always need a new supply!


What’s on my playlist? – Ciaran

Music can play a huge role in the Zombies, Run! experience. We’ve all had times when a song has perfectly matched up with a bit of the story – and had shuffle throw up that rogue Monty Python track in the middle of a serious moment! Music can heighten emotions, especially when you’re exercising, and with so many emotionally charged missions in Zombies, Run!, it makes the choice of music pretty important!

Here, we talk to some of the people behind Zombies, Run! to find out what’s on their playlist!

Ciaran Roberts – QA and Support

My music taste is pretty eclectic (and I am always several years behind the curve when it comes to picking up new stuff). I have one big playlist with about a hundred songs on it that I just keep adding to as I find things I like. I’m a bit of a magpie! This includes everything from Fall Out Boy to Shakespeare’s Sister, a couple of anime intros and that one track I got for free from iTunes and really liked. I’ve currently been introduced to a band called Battle Tapes because of their song Belgrade, so I’m working my way through their back catalogue.

One of my favourite tracks to run to is Laura Palmer by Bastille. It really makes me feel like I’m having an epic moment when it comes on during a mission, especially if a zombie chase is involved. On the other hand, there are a couple of my favourite songs I’ve had to kick off the running rotation because the beat leads to me tripping over my own feet!

I’ve had a couple of moments of real serendipity when it comes to music, although they weren’t necessarily good for my pace. One of them was during the mission ‘Actual Cannibal Rescue Mission’ when Actual Cannibal Shia LeBeouf started playing. It did throw me a bit off my stride though. Hard as it is to run while crying, running while giggling is equally difficult!

The other was a real tear jerking experience, when Everybody Hurts by REM came up during that mission in Season 4. Sometimes my playlist just doesn’t want me to be able to keep running!