The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 25, 2013

Running to death: Participants will attempt to 'survive' Zombie Run

MANKATO — Finishing a 5K race can be hard, but it can be even harder when runners need to dodge zombies hungering for brains.

That’s what runners are up against this Saturday at the Mankato Zombie Run. The interactive run is the first of its kind in Mankato and pits runners against the shuffling undead as they wind their ways through the woods of Mount Kato.

“I’m all about kids and people getting out there and being active,” said Randy Knutson, who organized the event. “It’s all about having fun.”

Knutson, who is an active runner himself, got the idea after hearing about other zombie-themed runs. However, unlike the Twin Cities’ “Run for Your Lives” event, Mankato’s Zombie Run is decidedly more kid- and family-friendly. Runners can sign up for easier or harder races, depending on how many zombies they can handle (and just how scary those zombies are).

“Zombies are going to be toned down for the kids,” said Hannah Lee Desmarais, a volunteer who is helping with zombie makeup. “It’s more like a big game of tag. … Like video games meet tag.”

The first wave of the Zombie Run starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, with different race times available throughout the day. People can sign up to be either runners or zombies. Zombie volunteers need to come with their own costumes, but they will receive free makeup jobs the day of the event. Runners will receive a belt with three flags at the beginning of the race. Throughout the race, zombies will try to grab the flags, though there will be no rough contact with runners. Runners who lose flags can look for spare “life line” flags along the route.

Knutson said the event was somewhat themed off AMC’s popular TV show, “The Walking Dead,” borrowing the idea of a gritty zombie apocalypse. To enhance the mood, there will be a fog machine, National Guard-inspired wear for volunteers and even a Humvee donated for the day by Kasota’s Drive a Tank company.

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