Zombies can be a lot of fun

No one tells you how cold it is to be dead in October.

Of course, I don’t mean literally.

Last Saturday was the YMCA’s Dead Run Zombie 5K, which I had the privilege to volunteer in as one of about a dozen ghouls along the trail in Zindel Park.

As I awoke to prepare for the YMCA’s Dead Run, I was acutely aware of the slight chill in my apartment. It wasn’t too bad, as it got me up a bit faster at my early rising time of around 7:30 a.m. to get ready. With only a few minutes’ hesitation, I got ready to zombie up.

I worked quickly, thanks to a few things I’d picked up on my previous zombie make-up trials. I smeared on some white, black, gray and yellow face paint with the practiced ease of a professional clown. I threw a bit more fake blood onto my face, then headed out for registration.

I found myself not completely freezing to death with my four layers of clothing, but the chill October morning still managed to bite through a cardigan, an old flannel shirt I’d picked up from the Salvation Army and two T-shirts.

When I got there, I found coffee and doughnuts waiting for zombies and runners alike. Before long, a motorized cart whisked me and another zombie out into the woods to drop us along the trail. I decided to take up shop near the dam. I waited about 20 minutes, it felt like, until the runners started coming.

I had approached this thing more as an “exorcise” in creative competition rather than just acting, thinking the runners would have flags and thus a reason to avoid the zombies.

However, when the first runner showed up, no flags were anywhere. Slightly disoriented, I adjusted my approach to the situation and played up the zombie thing for more presence than functionality.

Imagine my chagrin when I came to realize that, as a zombie, I hold little actual intimidation.

Despite my face paint and application of fake blood onto my shirt and face, I looked more or less like a guy out in the woods just being weird. I kept on, undaunted, despite the fact I had a small smattering of people tell me to stop smiling and get out of their way.

I couldn’t help myself. I had signed up to be a zombie, and I was determined to at least have played the part while I could. I shambled about the trail, following people who started walking once they got past me. I groaned my rotten little heart out.

As soon as I lost sight of one group, I’d anxiously run to find a hiding spot so I could try to scare someone in the next pocket.

I succeeded maybe once, but it was worth it to try. If you’ve never tried scaring someone, I urge you to pick a target carefully, not going with just random strangers, but do try it on someone. It’s a hoot.

About 45 minutes after the first runner went by, one of the people organizing the show showed up.

“Those were the last runners,” he said.

I had to admit, I was a touch sad when it was over. We all walked back to the parking lot of the park’s main trail and were corralled for announcements of winners and selection of best zombie. I didn’t win by a long shot, but it was nice to be part of it, if only for barely an hour.

All in all, I’d have to say it was pretty fun. More runners and zombies would have made things interesting, as would the inclusion of a flag system.

But for what it was, it was a good way to spend the morning. For those who have ever thought about it, I’d say try it. You don’t have to spend a lot on make-up, you don’t have to be Usane Bolt, you don’t even have to be terribly good at pretending to be dead. Just try it.

I hope to see you there next year.

Russell Pekelnicky is a staff writer for The Express. He can be reached at rpekelnicky@lockhaven.com.