The Zombi5K, a run to be held this Saturday between Rotary and Swanny parks, has an extra challenge: Staying alive.
“It’s like a real life video game,” said organizer Mat Niesen.
Each racer will be given a life belt with three “life tags”, which zombies will try to take.
If a runner can cross the finish line with at least one tag remaining, that runner will still be considered “alive.” Lose all three life tags and the racer is a dead man.
There are prizes for the fastest runner with at least one life tag remaining, as well for the four-person team that makes it across the finish line. “Each team member has to have at least one life tag left,” Niesen said.
While packet pick-up is Friday night, Niesen said that they will register people the day of the race at 8 a.m.
Niesen’s wife, Amber, is a runner. He said that she has dragged him to a lot of races and he was surprised how people pay money to run in a race.
“I can see paying to run if there is some excitement,” Niesen said.
The public’s fascination with zombies – made popular with movies like “Zombieland” and the television program “Walking Dead” – has spurred a new running fad.
“Run for Your Lives” has races across the country in 22 different states.
“It’s the whole apocalyptic thing,” Niesen said. “We figure we have a good seven years of zombie frenzy.”
Zombies can win prizes, too. There are prizes for both an individual zombie and the four-person-team of zombies to take the most lives.
Niesen said that runners will be released in waves “to give the zombies a fair chance to take lives. We want to make to this fair for the zombies.”
Volunteers willing to be zombies are asked to show up at the zombie transformation tent at 8 a.m. at Rotary Park.
A few teams of zombies are ready to go, but more are welcome.
“We’ll take more,” Niesen said. “The more the merrier.”
Zombies will be divided into two categories: chasers and creepers. Chasers scare and distract the racers while the creepers steal “life tags”.
Niesen said that each zombie receives training.
Zombies are not allowed to tackle, hug or hold runners.
“They can scare and steal tags,” Niesen said. “That’s the most amount of contact our lawyers are comfortable with.”
Runners – whether alive or dead – and the zombies are all invited to join the festivities at the end.