The Great Zodiac Race

恭喜发财 Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái! Wishing you prosperity and happiness! Ahead of the release of our latest New Adventure, The Great Zodiac Race, writer Kim Richards gives us a fascinating explanation of the Lunar New Year, and how it is celebrated widely beyond the Chinese traditions we are often more familiar with.

The Great Zodiac Race is out on Tuesday 25th January 2022. To play, get Zombies, Run! for free on iPhone and Android.

A drawing of the animals of the zodiac running

It’s near time to celebrate the first full moon of the year, and for many of those with East and Southeast Asian heritage, this is a time of feasting, family gatherings, sharing joy and reflecting on the year ahead. Growing up in a mixed Chinese-Malaysian and British household, Lunar New Year was the biggest celebration of the year for my family. The house would be scrubbed from top to bottom, then decked out in red and gold decorations. My family would gather on the night before LNY for our Reunion Feast, which began with Yee Sang (‘Prosperity Toss Salad’); a huge dish of different ingredients symbolising various blessings that we all mixed together while cheering ‘Lo hei! Happy New Year!’ This would be followed by a hearty communal steamboat and exchanging oranges (symbolic of gold and luck) and ‘ang paos’ – red packets of crisp new bank notes.

Thanks to the global pandemic, our celebrations have been non-existent for the last two years, so writing ‘The Great Zodiac Race’ has been a real joy for me, allowing me to share the fun of how the order of the Zodiac calendar was decided. The Zodiac calendar and Lunar New Year are intrinsically linked – with the former laying down the theme for how we celebrate the latter.

An image of Yee Sang 'Prosperity Toss Salad'

‘Yee Sang’ is a dish that everyone at the table mixes together, using chopsticks. The aim is
to toss the ingredients as high as you can!

But wait! Why did I say Lunar New Year, and not Chinese New Year? Lunar New Year is not just a Chinese festival! It is celebrated all over East and Southeast Asia; Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines…each community having both similar and different customs to celebrate ringing in the new year. While I personally celebrate with Chinese-Malaysian traditions, it is more acceptable to refer to the wider holiday as Lunar New Year, so as not to alienate people from different ethnicities. With this in mind, I’ve written this adventure based on what I am experienced with; the Chinese version of the Great Zodiac Race.

There are several localised variations of the original folk tale, mostly revolving around what animals are native to different countries. For instance, in Malaysia, Rabbit is replaced with Mousedeer, while the Nepalese Zodiac exchanges Dragon for Eagle, and Korea swaps Sheep with Goat and Pig with Boar.

An image of a traditional Lunar New Year family meal.

Our last family Reunion Dinner, where we traditionally have steamboat (also known as
hotpot.)

The biggest variation comes with Cat. You see, Cat was invited to take part in the race that would define the Zodiac calendar; but you’ll notice that no domestic kitties grace the 12 year cycle. This is because, in some stories, Rat never passed on the race invitation, or didn’t wake Cat in time to go to the race. In other stories, Cat participated, but Rat pushed her into the river near the end of the race, hence why Cat hates both water and Rat. However, Cat does appear in the Vietnamese Zodiac, replacing Rabbit.

2021 was the Year of the Ox; a time for perseverance and endurance. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, who is associated with strength, confidence and exorcising evil (in further myth, Tiger eats evil spirits who try to invade the Jade Emperor’s court). Here’s hoping that Tiger’s qualities follow us in the year ahead; we deserve it after the last two years! If you wish to share Tiger related well wishes, here’s a rather sweet Mandarin expression: ‘虎啸祥瑞Hǔ xiào xiáng ruì!’ – ‘Tiger roars and calls for an auspicious New Year!’

I hope you enjoy the race – if you want to feel extra festive while running, consider wearing red clothing and reward yourself with an orange afterwards! I wish you a wonderful and prosperous year ahead. Gōng xǐ fā cái!


The Great Zodiac Race will be released on Tuesday 25th January 2022. To play, get Zombies, Run! for free on iPhone and Android.

Black Friday Sale: 25% off memberships!

We’re taking a massive 25% off our VIP and Abel Runners Club gift memberships until the end of November! They’re the perfect gift for your friends and family – or for yourself!

Get unlimited access to 500+ missions, plus our Zombies, Run! 5K training app and The Walk, a spy thriller where you walk the length of Great Britain. And in ZR, you can customise your zombie chases and play Interval Training and Airdrop Mode!

With VIP you’ll get everything above PLUS every virtual race we’ve made, including this year’s multi-part epic Jack and Eugene’s World Tour! Each race comes with exclusive story extras including secret websites, emails, puzzles, minigames, and access to our private forum!

This offer is only available until 30th November, so there’s never been a better time to join!

Non-US Players: Order Your Merch Soon!

If you live outside of the US, you may want to order race packs, tech shirts, caps, and more from our shop in the next week, because we will be limiting non-US shipping from October 10th.

The reason is because DHL has significantly increased the minimum spend required for their worldwide shipping accounts, which affects one of our US suppliers (Sweatvac). Unfortunately, we don’t have a replacement that is as fast and affordable as DHL yet because we were given very little notice of this change.

That’s why we’ve made the difficult decision to pause shipping these products outside the US from October 11th:

  • All Race Packs and Souvenir Packs
  • Tech shirts and tech tanks
  • Face masks
  • Caps, hats, and headbands
  • Water bottles
  • Socks

These products from our other supplier (Scalable Press/Fuel) will continue to ship worldwide as normal:

  • All cotton T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Posters
  • Tote bags
  • Mugs
  • Phone cases

We are working on finding a way to ship all our products worldwide as soon as we can, but it’s likely to be a few months – so if you’re outside the US and you want a souvenir pack or a tech shirt, please order now!

The Home Front auf Deutsch!

The Home Front ist jetzt auch auf Deutsch verfügbar! Wir haben mit Warlocs zusammengearbeitet, um die ersten 10 Episoden unserer Bodyweight-Workout-Serie für deutschsprachige Nutzer verfügbar zu machen. Sie sind für jeden kostenlos herunterzuladen – öffnet die App und sucht nach „The Home Front Deutsch“ im Reiter Missionen.

Screenshots of The Home Front Deutsch

The Home Front is now available in German! We’ve collaborated with Warlocs to bring the first 10 episodes of our home bodyweight workout series to German speakers everywhere. They’re free to download for everyone – open the app and look for “The Home Front Deutsch” in the Missions tab!

New Subscriptions Price Rise: 2021

Hello, Runners Five! From next week, we’ll be increasing the price of some subscriptions to new subscribers only.

As with previous price increases, if you’re an existing subscriber, you won’t see any price change providing you keep your subscription active (i.e. you don’t cancel and resubscribe). And if your subscription begins before next week, these increases will not affect you unless you allow your subscription to lapse without renewing it.

  • Abel Runner’s Club – Annual: Increasing to $39.99 USD from $34.99
  • Legacy Discount: Increasing to $19.99 USD from $7.99

We’re proud of making a game that makes exercising fun, and continually maintaining and improving it for almost a decade. We put our prices up only when we believe it’s necessary to make sure we can keep giving Zombies, Run! the attention it deserves, so that’s why this is our first price increase in two years. For non-USD currencies, the exact price change will vary.

Increasing the cost of new subscriptions allows us to increase the resources we can dedicate to improving Zombies, Run! and adding new kinds of gameplay and storytelling. It also lets us pay our staff fairly. We believe our new subscription prices are still great value, and highly competitive against comparable health and fitness apps – though there’s nothing quite like ZR out there!

Stay safe out there! 

Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Join the Zombies, Run! Team

Want to help make the world’s most fun smartphone fitness game? We’re looking for people to fill four fully-remote roles across our team:

You’ll find all the details you need above, along with pay ranges and how to apply!


About Six to Start

We make content for absolutely everyone

At Six to Start we believe in everyone’s right to exist and be seen. We tell diverse stories in our app with caring, idealistic characters that our players love. Our workplace reflects this mission with our commitment to equality, inclusion and mutual support. Here’s what some of our players say:

“I love this beautiful inclusive world you’ve created that you’ve allowed us to be a part of. Zombies, Run! has helped me through a lot of trying times and I don’t know what I’d be doing without y’all.”

“Zombies, Run is an exercise app, but its ALSO an incredible audio podcast where u are the main character. has lovable diverse cast of chars. and motivates you IRL to exercise at any pace you prefer! its literally the only thing thats ever made me exercise for fun and i love it.”

We are not a startup

We think “hustle” is code for overwork. From the way we plan projects onward, we do everything we can to ensure people work 40 hours a week even in release-heavy months. We also support part-time working and extra flexibility for meeting needs and challenges like caring for others, crisis and personal health.

We build better processes

We believe in creating thoughtful, sustainable processes that make our work easier, rather than relying on volume of effort to get the job done. We’re committed to constant self-scouting and continual improvement as a way of ensuring as stress-free and sustainable a work life as we’re able to create.

5K Training Players, We Need You!

Are you a ZR 5K Training player? The National University of Singapore is conducting research on gamified apps and they need your help! Ten 1-Year Abel Runner’s Club vouchers are up for grabs (worth $35 USD each) as part of a random drawing of participants!

Read on for the survey details!


There has been significant interest in examining the potential health consequences of gamified therapeutics such as the Zombies, Run! 5k Training app. In fact, in line with WHO recommendations, video games are being prescribed as a recommended treatment for homebound existence brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Our goal is to understand user experiences pertinent in gaming to investigate how and when to elicit such experiences in gamified therapeutics. Your participation will help to improve the overall positive impact of these technologies. 

You can contribute to these efforts in the following ways:

  • Participate in the survey. 
  • Read the survey questions carefully.  
  • Process all the given alternatives carefully.   
  • Be honest and candid. 

All responses will be kept confidential. It is your personal opinions that are important. Only your personal experience or knowledge is required to answer the questions.

Survey Link: https://nus.syd1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eVCgqTQ1UTkgDVY

For more information or questions about this research, you may contact Oteng at dison@nus.edu.sg


Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Read Your Abel Mail on ZombieLink

All Runners 5 will know about the emails from Abel Township residents like Sam, Jody, and Janine after a mission. We love writing and designing these, and from today, you can revisit them at any time on ZombieLink! So if you’ve lost or deleted a “milestone email”, or you just want a better way of exploring them, look no further than their ZombieLink mission page.

Almost every ZR mission and New Adventure episode is on ZombieLink, with full scene descriptions, audio playback, run logs, and now, milestone emails – and there are more improvements to come…!

Screenshot of Jolly Alpha Five Niner ZombieLink page, with milestone email

Talk to Me: New Audio Notifications

Ever been on a mission from Abel Township and wondered when it was time to turn back home? Then you’ll love our new audio notifications, out now in our 9.3.0 update on Android and iPhone!

We’ve added four ways to hear about your progress while you’re running:

  • Rolling Pace: Pace for your most recent mile or kilometer
  • Overall Pace: Pace for your entire run so far
  • Remaining Progress: Amount of time or distance left until your mission is complete
  • Halfway Through: Triggers when you’re halfway through your set run duration, which for most runners will be when you’re halfway through a mission

These options will work slightly differently (or won’t apply) on different game modes – for example, Supply Missions, Interval Training, and Airdrop won’t play the “Halfway Through” announcement. But we hope you’ll find them useful while you’re out saving the world!

You can find all of these options in the More > Settings screen in the app, and they’re available to both free and paid subscribers.

Also in 9.3.0…

On Android:

  • You can now adjust run durations by 0.1 km/mile or 1 minute increments
  • We’ll remind you to sync to ZombieLink if you aren’t logged in

On iPhone:

  • The Home Screen now loads much faster!
  • We now require iOS13 or above

Jack & Eugene’s World Tour Begins 29th April!

We hope you’re ready, Runner 5: Jack & Eugene’s World Tour is three times bigger than our normal virtual races, and their epic journey to Abel Township is starting Thursday 29th April! Here’s the full lineup for Part 1:

AMBIENT MODE 1 📻
An experimental new prelude…
29 April

TRAINING MISSION 1 👟
6 May

TRAINING MISSION 2 👟
13 May

5K + 10K RACE 🏁
20 May

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. And you’ll run!

All VIP members will get instant access to Jack & Eugene’s World Tour as soon as it’s out, along with all 11 past virtual races.

Upgrade to VIP today by tapping More > Membership in the app, or buy a gift code online from just $49.99!

A Special Message from Jack and Eugene

Postcard front of Jack and Eugene watching a sunset, with "Hello from Alderney!"
Postcard back (see below for writing)

Hello from beautiful Alderney, Runner Five! How are you doing? I really hope this care package has arrived in one piece, and that it didn’t take too long to get to you. Never thought I’d have so much nostalgia for the post, of all things! 

Gene and I are doing really well at the moment – we’ve finally got our space set up just the way we like, and it feels really good to be a bit more settled, even if it is weird having so much room to ourselves. Even though it was cramped and the generator was always half a second away from dying or catching fire, I have to admit, I think I’m always going to miss our studio at Abel. It was home for such a long time, you know?

Speaking of, we actually found one of your old mix tapes you made for Radio Abel back in the day, and I have to say, you’ve got some absolute bangers on here! It’s been really nice relistening to it and thinking of you guys.

I hope you’re doing well and staying safe, Five. Make sure Janine doesn’t work you too hard, yeah? We miss you.

Love, 

Jack and Eugene