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updated: 9/20/2012 10:38 AM

Zombies promise to give racers 'adrenaline rush' in new Fox Valley 5K

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  • Zombie participants in the Fox Valley Park District's Zombie Invasion 5K will hide behind trees and attempt to capture flag football flags from runners striving to reach the finish line without being tracked down by the undead. The race can accommodate up to 300 participants including zombies and runners.

      Zombie participants in the Fox Valley Park District's Zombie Invasion 5K will hide behind trees and attempt to capture flag football flags from runners striving to reach the finish line without being tracked down by the undead. The race can accommodate up to 300 participants including zombies and runners.
    Courtesy of the Fox Valley Park District

  • Zombies in tattered clothes and gory makeup will chase and stumble at racers participating in the Fox Valley Park District's first Zombie Invasion 5K on Friday, Oct. 5, at Blackberry Farm.

      Zombies in tattered clothes and gory makeup will chase and stumble at racers participating in the Fox Valley Park District's first Zombie Invasion 5K on Friday, Oct. 5, at Blackberry Farm.
    Courtesy of the Fox Valley Park District

  • Runners will be sprinting to avoid zombies during the Fox Valley Park District's first Zombie Invasion 5K, set for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at Blackberry Farm.

      Runners will be sprinting to avoid zombies during the Fox Valley Park District's first Zombie Invasion 5K, set for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at Blackberry Farm.
    Courtesy of the Fox Valley Park District

 
 

Details of the upcoming Zombie Invasion 5K Run get more and more intricate each time Fox Valley Park District staff members meet to plan the inaugural race.

There will be chaser zombies and stumbler zombies; zombie infestation and decontamination zones; 14 obstacles and a Zombieland Party in the Park following the race, which is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5 at Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road in Aurora.

"The theme keeps growing as we have meetings," said Jaime Ijams, facility manager at Prisco Community Center and assistant superintendent of recreation.

Building on the popularity of zombies and the growing trend of races involving an element of adventure, Ijams brought up the Zombie Invasion idea at a brainstorming meeting and developed it into an event that gives runners and horror fans an outlet to enjoy exercise and a good scare.

"The purpose of the race is to run like hell through it and escape the zombies," she said. "It's not only the fear of a zombie chasing you, but it'll be an adrenaline rush the whole time. I definitely would be running a little bit faster."

Up to 300 people can participate in the race as either zombies or racers, and registration ends Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Racers will be given flag football belts along with their chip timing devices when they begin the race. They'll attempt to run all 3.1 miles of the course without having their flags snatched by a zombie. Runners will be divided into categories based on expected mile pace: "vulnerable" runners will be those running at a 9-minute pace or faster; "endangered" racers run between a 10-minute and 12-minute mile; and "extinct" runners are those completing a mile in 13 minutes or more.

"I think it just sounds fun because it's not the ordinary race," said Jamie Feger of Sycamore, who signed up with a group of former neighbors from Aurora. "You're not necessarily racing against yourself -- you're racing against zombies. It's like a reality video game, only in race format."

Zombies themselves will be broken down into groups of chaser zombies and stumbler zombies.

"They'll be hiding or jumping out of different areas to scare people, just to keep it interesting," Ijams said.

Chasers are required to run down racers after they complete one of the course's 14 obstacles, which will include a creek or two, mud trenches and a hay bale pyramid. Stumbler zombies, well, they lurch and lumber toward living runners as only the undead can.

"Being a chaser zombie seemed fun," said Jessica Merczak of Aurora, who has fond memories of her mother doing gory makeup for actors in church plays. "Being gored out seems like a cool idea, not weird."

If zombies like Merczak steal the flags of a racer, the racer will enter a "zombie infestation zone" after the race. But those who cross the finish line with flags intact will head to a "safe zone" for decontamination, Ijams said.

Participating as a zombie costs $20 and includes a T-shirt, "transformation" into the makeup and tattered clothing of a zombie and access to a party after the race with entertainment, karaoke and food. Participating as an individual runner costs $60 and includes a T-shirt, race medal, chip timing and access to the after-party. Groups of four runners can sign up for $50 each, and spectators can pay $5 on race day to get a glimpse of the action and access to the Zombieland party.

Those with Fox Valley Park District PIN numbers can use Foxlink Internet to register online or fill out the registration form on page 140 of the Fall Activity Guide and mail it to FVPD, 150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora, IL 60506, Attention: Brochure Registration.

Others can register in person at either Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave.; Eola Community Center, 555 S. Eola Road; or Vaughan Athletic Center, 2121 W. Indian Trail until Wednesday, Sept. 26.

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