What’s On pals Hype meet the man behind Contagion Run in Dubai, happening on October 31. This 5km is one of the most fun things to do in Dubai on Halloween.

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Everyone enjoys a bit of fancy dress on Halloween, but short of jumping out from behind a dark corner, you don’t really get to be the costume you’re wearing. Well this year, Contagion Run are putting that right with their themed 5km race at Nad Al Sheba Cycle And Jogging Track. Participants can either take part as a zombie (Dhs50) or a serious runner (Dhs300). 

Our friends at Hype meet Bret Benson, the man behind the event…

Where are you from? From Madison, Wisconsin.

When did you come to Dubai? In 2007, after eight years in Honk Kong.

What do you do here? My day job is project management for TV clients. I’ve also been involved with events like The Middle East Film And Comic Con (MEFCC) since 2012, as a jack-of-all-trades.

What gave you the idea for your zombie-themed Contagion Run? Zombie-themed runs have been happening in the US, Europe and Asia for a few years, and Dubai seemed ready for it. This year all the elements lined up perfectly – Halloween is becoming more and more popular in Dubai, plus it falls on a Friday this year, and the weather in late October makes it a great time to run a race.

What makes it different to normal races? No other 5km race in the UAE has you dodge and avoid zombies while running and maneuvering through obstacles.

How would you describe the run? There is a storyline to the Contagion Run. There’s been a zombie outbreak and the runners are survivors who need to make it to the next ‘safe zone’. To get there, they need to navigate our course wearing a belt with three flags, which represent their lives. The zombies try to get you and your flags. As a runner, your goal is to finish with at least one flag left. If you’re a zombie, your goal is brains! There will be enough obstacles to make it accessible to everyone, but challenging enough so that people of every fitness level can enjoy it.

When people register, they can sign up to be a zombie or a runner. To be a zombie, people need to wear clothes they don’t mind getting covered with fake blood. We’ll have make-up artists there to help people become a zombie, but if people want to make themselves up to be a specific type of zombie, we very much encourage it.

Would it be correct to assume you like zombie films and comics? I’m a huge comic book fan and love the zombie genre. My favourite movie is probably the ’80s zombie flick The Return Of The Living Dead. It had a lot of the classic ’80s horror staples but was a bit cheesy, too.

Have you ever organised any races like this before? This is the first zombie-themed race I’ve organised. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with a few other races here in the UAE, and with MEFCC, so this a crossover for both types of crowd – the fitness fans and the zombie fans.

Favourite place to eat locally? Beachcombers at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. You can’t beat the Asian fusion buffet, along with the views of the Burj Al Arab.

Favourite place to catch up with friends? Nelson’s at the Media Rotana or the Belgian Beer Café.

Favourite club or music event? I really enjoy Sandance. But I’d love to see more US indie-based acts come out to Dubai.

Favourite international DJ or band? It’s a toss up between Nine Inch Nails or The Cure.

Favourite Dubai-based DJ or band? The band would have to be The Boxtones, and DJ would be General Public.

What do you do when you need some ‘me’ time? I barricade myself in a room, surrounded by comic books, and spend hours and hours reading.

How would you sell Dubai to someone who has never visited the city? Dubai is incredibly cosmopolitan and a great blend of cultures from all over.

What’s the secret to success here? Find something you love, and do it. There’s still so much opportunity out here and so many niches that can be filled.

What’s your top tip for getting the most out of Dubai? Get out, get active, and explore.

The Contagion Run, Nad Al Sheba Cycle And Jogging Track, Dubai. Friday, October 31, from 4pm. Dhs50 for zombies and Dhs300 for runners. contagionrun.com