Getting ready for the zombies: ‘Run for Your Lives’ fundraiser 5K brings zombies to Clearlake Oaks

Sunday, 21 April 2013 00:20
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Runners take part in a “Run for Your Lives” event in Northern California. The charity run will come to Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – Short of fishing or drowning night crawlers, at times there’s not a lot that happens in Clearlake Oaks.

But on Saturday, May 11, 750 zombies will – borrowing from the lyrics of Cole Porter – do that voodoo that they do so well.

Their reason for being there will be to chase and otherwise harass participants in a “Run for Your Lives” 5K run that will begin at the nearby Oasis Vintage Motocross.

Already more than 3,000 runners have ponied up $87 to $97 for the “privilege” of trying to outrun the zombies behind them and the several obstacles in front, including a blood pit, smoke house and electric shocks.

If spending three hours in this sort of environment sounds like barrels of fun to you, Lauren Gambler, the event’s customer service manager, assures that there’s room for another 3,000 to 4,000 entrants.

Try to imagine the impact of 6,000 scared-out-of-their wits runners chased by professionally made-up ghouls will have on the Oaks, population 2,400.

In all, there are 10 obstacles on the course, “and,” said Gambler, “when you come to the zombies you have to sprint or slow down to dodge them. So it takes people a little bit longer to run a 5K.”

“Run for Your Lives” is the creation of Reed Street Productions of Baltimore, where it was first held in October 2011.

Under its format runners begin the course wearing a flag football-like belt with three hanging flags that the zombies attempt to remove throughout the run.

The run seems to be gaining popularity. Last year there were a dozen of them around the country. This year there are 21 scheduled.

Clearlake Oaks was selected as an event site because (1) Reed Street wanted to establish itself in northern California; and (2) the run needs to be held in a place where it can spread out over 150 acres.

A participant in a “Run for Your Lives” charity run. Courtesy photo.

“It’s more of a test of survival than an athletic event,” said Gambler. “If the zombies take all three of your flags you’re still part of the race and you’ll get a medal. If you finish up with one flag you get a survivor medal.

“I’m sure there have been some runners who finish with all three flags, but most of them just squeeze by with the one flag left,” she said.

The event, she added, promotes camaraderie for families and friends in a team concept.

Another concept that has caught on it seems is the lively interest in being among the dead. “There’s a flat entrance fee of $35 to be a zombie and we are sold out,” said Gambler.

Doubtlessly it’s more fun to be chasing than being chased. One good reason for that is the creativity that goes into becoming a zombie.

“We’ve had Forrest Gump and Teletubby zombies, doctors and people who dress up as bride zombies in old wedding dresses that they’ve shredded to pieces,” said Gambler.

Others are outfitted as iconic television and film stars. Runners have also been known to enter the event costumed. One entered in a banana suit. To date no one has invaded the run al fresco as has been the case for other popular runs such as Bay to Breakers.

“We hope that no one ever comes undressed,” Gambler demurred.

The proceeds from “Run for Your Lives” go to Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute, which aids children and adolescents with pediatric developmental disabilities and disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system.

A warning: Clearlake Oaks, you have just three weeks to get ready for this.

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Email John Lindblom at .

Those who take part as zombies are known to dress up as characters, in this case, Santa Claus. Courtesy photo.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 April 2013 12:42 )