Jim Metzger, college and young adult minister at Westwood, said the park will be turned into a “zombie apocalypse.” Zombies will be played by staff and volunteers from the church.
“Every participant who signs up is a survivor,” Metzger said. “Your job is to get through the zombie course we have set up.”
Would-be zombies will be spread throughout the course. Some will be able to sprint while others will stagger and shuffle. All of the zombies can steal lives from runners, represented by the flags around each survivor’s waist.
Survivors will be given three flags, a runner’s bib and a hand-drawn course map. Runners are not allowed to dress like zombies. Metzger said participants are encouraged to dress like their favorite survivor.
The course will have three safe houses where participants will receive a stamp which allows access to the next level.
“Zombies cannot touch you in a safe house. You can rest and we will have snacks, like bananas, and water,” Metzger said. “It will be a place to congregate, rest up and plan your venture to the next safe house.”
Metzger suggested traveling in packs to make it through the course. Groups might consider having scouts to look ahead for possible dangers. The map will only help so much, as Metzger admitted some parts may be a little skewed.
The layout of the course was designed to challenge the survivors while keeping the 5-kilometer run fun.
“The first part is on a path through the field section. Then, you come to this area where it narrows down into the woods. So to get through, you are going to have to be pretty spry,” Metzger said.
Various offshoots will follow the first section.
“We will have makeshift signs as part of the zombie apocalypse and they will urge you to go either left or right,” Metzger said. “If you should go right [directionally] and you are wrong, then about 20 yards down you will see a herd of zombies.”
The living dead will shuffle along paths, hide behind trees and sit in seemingly abandoned tents. Participants cannot fight against a zombie grabbing their flag and zombies cannot tackle runners. Survivors are allowed to dodge hands and adjust their speed.
According to Metzger, “life packs” will be hidden throughout the course. Life packs have extra flags runners can attach to their belt for max health at three flags. Only survivors with flags can use a health pack.
“[Runners with no flags] can still finish the race, but the zombies will mock you because you are dead,” Metzger said.
Survivors who make it to the end of the race will be in for an adrenaline rush. One final zombie surprise awaits those who seek the finish line while still alive.
Those interested can go to Kronos33.com and click on the Charity [Zombie] 5K Run for Life tab to register. The registration cost is $25 with an optional addition of $5 for a T-shirt. All $25 will go toward life-affirming ministries in Cleveland. Race day registration will cost $30.
The race will begin at 5 p.m. on April 20 at Fletcher Park, 1575 Tennessee Nursery Road N.W., Cleveland.
Metzger said there will be prizes and giveaways. He also said any business or restaurant interested in donating a gift card/prize is more than welcome. More information can be attained by contacting Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The zombie run promises to be an interesting affair for 5K lovers, challenge seekers and “Walking Dead” Daryl Dixon wannabes alike.