On April 26 the zombie apocalypse returns to Fletcher Park with the intention of leaving no “survivors” while raising funds for local life-affirming ministries.
Westwood Baptist college minister Jordan Metzger said the Zombie 5K Year 2 committee set out to make the event bigger and better than last year.
“Everyone said it was so much fun. I had so much positive feedback from people saying, ‘You have to do it again,’” Metzger said. “It was a lot of work, but we made money for charity and raised awareness.”
The zombie-themed run raised more than $4,000 for New Hope Pregnancy Care Center and Foundation House Ministries last year. A third nonprofit, Second Life of Chattanooga, was added as a recipient of this year’s funds.
Metzger recalled some individuals in both the church and community were a little uncertain of the event the first year.
He said a little research revealed the controversy.
“Before my time, zombies were all about spirits and demons,” Metzger said. “For us, it is just a virus in a body. There is a [difference in the] cultural, generational thought.”
This year’s event will take place at 5 p.m. in Fletcher Park. The 5K’s official page urges participants to remember they are “survivors of the zombie apocalypse.”
Three safe houses will be set up along the “undead infested” course for runners to regroup, take a refreshment break and receive the necessary “quarantine items.”
According to Metzger, the stamps from the first two safe houses will be necessary to get through the gated final portion of the course.
Participants can dress as their favorite survivor (from a family show) or in wacky outfits, provided they do not come as zombies or monsters of another kind. Every survivor will receive a course map, runner’s bib and flags at the beginning of the race.
Metzger hinted there might be obstacles added to the course this year. Runners might find themselves with a choice between a zombie infested bridge or a wood beam walk over shallow water.
Last year, zombies shuffled, walked, ran and sprinted after the almost 200 people who signed up for the 5K. It was mayhem from the beginning. As Metzger delivered a speech to the runners, zombies planted in the crowd erupted into action— and so did the “survivors.”
Flags around the waist, like those found in flag football, will once again serve as the “lives” of the participants. Those who lose all of their flags are welcome to finish the course, but Metzger warned the zombies will mock them. There will be opportunities along the 3.1 mile route to pick up more lives. Sometimes the lives will be hidden in a tent, with a zombie as a roommate.
According to Metzger, only three people reached the end of last year’s 5K with all of their flags. The real question is whether anyone will be able to finish the race this year with the increased emphasis on “bigger and better.” Prizes will once again be given to people who make it through with all of their flags and the best time.
Registration is currently open at kronos33.com for $30 a person. Race day registration will see a price hike to $35 per person. According to Metzger, $25 from every registration fee goes toward the charities. The remaining money is used to buy the zombie 5K T-shirts. He emphasized the church does not take any of the money.
He encouraged people who did not participate last year to join in on the fun.
“I want to emphasize why we are doing it,” Metzger said. “Not everyone is going to agree with our methodology, but our message (affirmation of life) they can agree with. I hope they remember that.”
Added Metzger, “Tell your friends it is a fun event. Bring them out.”