Brothers Brandon and Justine Lee are the organizers of the sold-out Race The Dead, a fun 5km run that involves escaping “zombies.” They talk to City News about the race, engaging culture and making a difference.
With shows like The Walking Dead and World War Z invading screens big and small these days, it was only a matter of time before there would be a zombie race. For the first time this Halloween, Singapore will be racing the dead.
The brainchild of brothers Brandon and Justine Lee, Race The Dead is a 5km obstacle course with a terror-filled twist: zombies will be creeping around trying to devour racers. The first of its kind in Singapore, Race The Dead will be held in Sentosa, on Oct. 26. The first race was sold out in 14 hours, and as of press time, the organizers have released slots to a second race on Oct. 27.
Both City Harvest Church members, Brandon, 24, is a personal trainer with Celebrity Trainer by day, and a musician by night. Justine, 22, runs Soule, a social enterprise that donates shoes to needy children for every pair of flipflops sold. Justine also recently won the NSF of the Year award.
For every 50 people who sign up for the race, Celebrity Trainer will donate one pair of school shoes to children in China.
What sparked the idea for Race The Dead? Are you zombie movie fans?
Brandon: A friend suggested this to me one day when we were exercising. I am a fan of The Walking Dead.
Justine: Yes I am a zombie fan! Apart from Plants Vs Zombies, I also love watching The Walking Dead—I have watched all three seasons thus far! And I like I Am Legend starring Will Smith.
Is this the first time you are collaborating on a project on a national scale?
B: Yes. Actually, it is the first time we are collaborating on any scale.
What do you hope to achieve through RTD?
B: To encourage the masses who find it hard to exercise, to engage in fitness activities through experience runs such as RTD, instead of the usual marathons and triathlons.
J: My goal is letting the participants understand that there is also a social cause behind the race. As they run to “survive,” I hope they will remember there are people who need our help to survive and make the lives better. Soule is collaborating with Celebrity Trainer to give away 500 pairs of school shoes to needy children in China.
There is a song that has been written for RTD—tell us about it.
B: My band and I co-wrote the song. There will be live performances by bands throughout the day along with Halloween-themed activities happening at our carnival called “The Quarantine.” Members of the public are welcome.
Celebrities like Paralympian Theresa Goh have signed up to be zombies. Any other famous faces who will appear?
B: Theresa Goh actually wrote in to us to ask if she could volunteer as a zombie and we thought, why not? We do have a few individuals who will be appearing. One person you might want to look out for is Ah Siao, who regularly runs the Standard Chartered Marathon each year, dragging a tyre with him as part of a bone marrow donor awareness campaign.
The race sold out in a really short time—did you expect this?
B: We knew that it would be well-received because it’s the first in Singapore but the response was overwhelming. Our server actually crashed a few times during registration as thousands of people were trying to register at the same time.
J: I was totally surprised that there was such a overwhelming response, and the race was completely fully registered within 14 hours of launching!
Any surprises for the racers?
B: Look out for a special ops team deployed throughout the race to help you survive the arduous course should you require an additional health flag.
What were you like growing up? Were you close as siblings?
B: We were okay, we wrestled a lot like most siblings do.
J: Brandon is the big brother, so I often lose to him in fights! But we were quite naughty when we were young!
B: I came to church at the age of 14 in 2003. My literature teacher Stanley Ho decided that this delinquent needed some help.
J: I came to church when I was 14, in Secondary Two. That was in December 2004. Brandon brought me to church!
What do you love most about church?
B: The people. We have an eco-system that encourages people to pursue their dreams instead of treading on safe ground.
J: The presence of God is amazing in this church. And the people in CHC are warm; there is always a family feel. I am thankful for my leaders and disciplers such as Pastor Tan (Ye Peng) and Pastor (Tan) Yah Lan as they always encourage us to chase our dreams and engage the culture for Christ.
You are the next generation personifications of the Cultural Mandate—rooted in church and in spiritual foundation, and are comfortable engaging the world and winning it for Christ. Can you share your take on the Cultural Mandate?
B: People who inspire me in church are Pastor Kong (Hee), Pastor Yah Lan, my cell group leaders and cell group members. But ultimately, I believe that it is God who directs. I am definitely for the Cultural Mandate. But sometimes it’s a fine line between engaging culture and following suit, even for myself and many young people out there.
To be in the world but yet not of the world is not easy, but I believe, as Dr. (Yonggi) Cho said at our dedication service, it’s totally normal that we are constantly in need of God’s grace, healing, blessing and even saving because that’s His joy. As Christians, we are not expected to be a super humans but super humane, to the point we learn to rely on God when we fail.
J: Pastor Kong has always taught the Cultural Mandate since we joined church as youths. And Sun is the personification of the Cultural Mandate. I am always inspired by her life. She has showed us how we can engage pop culture and at the same time making a difference for people in need.
What lies in the future for the Lee brothers?
B: We will be organizing three events next year. So keep a look out!
J: Yes, the Lee brothers will always be on the move! We’ll keep you updated!
Visit www.facebook.com/RaceTheDead for more details.