Special to The Free Press
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.
The 5K will not be timed, but runners who finish the race with at least one flag will receive an “I Survived” medal. After the last wave of runners, there will be a post-race party with music by the Midwest Selects and Neon and the Noble Gases.
Parking is available, but there will also be a shuttle running from Mount Kato to downtown Mankato. Proceeds from the event are going to several area charities, including Minnesota Doctors for the People, the Loyola Booster Club, Mankato Soccer and Partners for Affordable Housing.
So far, about 450 people have registered for the event. Interested runners and volunteers can register at the event’s webpage, mankatozombierun.com.
The cost is $55 for runners and $47 for zombie volunteers. Those interested can also sign up for both roles in two different waves of races. Same-day registration is also available, though Knutson advises people to come early the day of the event to ensure they can be ready in time for the race.