Zombie Run and Fun Day comes to life at Reeves Park

graphic by Kevin Brooks

Sometimes scary can be a good thing, and such is the case for the creature feature fundraising footrace known as the Survivor Run, part of the first ever Phoenixville Zombie Run and Fun Day being held at Reeves Park on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The Survivor Run is a 5K race where costume clad cadavers (volunteers dressed as zombies) will ‘pursue’ participating runners as they make for finish line.

Bob Brown, the event organizer, described the Survivors’ Run as a “combo of the best of a traditional 5K mixed with the best of flag football.”

Each ‘Survivor’ runner will get three flags to wear, and there will be zombies stationed along the course who will try and take their flags as they go running past – once all three of your flags are gone then you are out… the bad guys got you… you are zombie food!

Runners can still finish the course after being eliminated, or they are welcome to “turn zombie” and pursue the flags of the other runners.

“Not all of the zombies will be there to take flags, some will be there just to add to the setting,” Brown explained. “Some are there for atmosphere, some will try and distract you so others can capture your flags, some will run, some will only walk, and some will just stand in the middle of the course to get you to run around them.”

He added that there is a zombie code of etiquette that will allow everyone to stay safe and to make sure that the zombies are spooky, but in a manner appropriate for all ages.

“It will be a colorful cast of people,” Brown promised, “We already have (over 130) people who have signed up to volunteer as zombies.”

The Survivor Run is just one of the scheduled events for the Phoenixville Zombie Run and Fun Day – prior to the Survivor Run there will be a traditional 5K run and a 1K walk, and throughout the event Reeves Park will host the Fun Day aspect, with which includes arts and crafts, moon bounces, a rock climbing wall, a zombie costume contest, music and more. There will also be vendors selling items ranging from food to comic books to t-shirts.

A portion of the proceeds raised from the event will benefit Phoenixville Area Community Services (PACS). Brown said that the PACS was chosen as the charitable partner because it is does great things things for kids and families in the community.

“The Zombie Run & Fun Day promises to be a unique and exciting event that will appeal to athletes and also the larger community, especially families,” wrote PACS Executive Director Carol Berger in an email to the Phoenix Reporter & Item. “PACS is grateful to be chosen by the organizers to receive a portion of the proceeds raised and be associated with this event.”

According to Berger, the funds raised will be used for PACS’ programs.

“Through our Information & Referral program, we help people find solutions to their needs, including referrals to help with health care, housing, transportation and job training. Our Emergency Services program helps people directly with food through the emergency pantry and other basic needs (rent, mortgage, heat and utility assistance, when funds are available),” she explained.

Brown, who works with the Chester County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said he was inspired to make the event happen after local scouts voiced their disappointment over not being able to take part in a zombie-themed that was far away. So Brown, who has experience planning events, pulled together a committee of like-minded individuals who made the day happen.

Tickets to participate in the runs or the walk are just $15. Admission to Fun Day is free, and many of the activities are free too – though there will be a couple of activities that to charge a small materials fee.

One of the major fun features will be Zombie Apocalypse emergency lessons, presented in the guise of a looking zombie invasion, but providing knowledge applicable to realistic emergencies such as natural disasters.

“I like the idea of putting real life emergency lessons into this... …It really puts credibility behind the event and sets it apart from other zombie-themed races,” said Brown.

The Phoenixville Office of Emergency Management will be on hand to educate attendees about preparing for emergency situations, and the Boy Scouts will also be offering lessons in emergency preparedness skills, as well as wilderness survival and first aid.

“One of the best things about bringing this together was that Phoenixville Emergency Management was so excited to be involved,” Brown said. “People will get to learn about how to make preparations in their home for emergencies – such as having a first aid kit and trauma kit.”

In addition to the money raised to benefit PACS, the Boy Scouts are also holding a canned food drive ‘Scouting For Food’, and they are asking attendees to bring at least one non-perishable food item. The food collected will be used to refill PACS pantry for the winter. According to Berger, PACS expects to help more than 1,000 neighbors who are hungry with food donated to the emergency pantry.

Zombie Run and Fun Day is being driven by a very large volunteer base, with people stepping up to help through registering at http://tinyurl.com/phoenixvillezombierun

“We looked at other themed runs, and most charge people to be involved, but we did not want to discourage people from volunteering by charging them a fee,” said Brown.

The volunteer numbers have exceeded expectations, and he same goes for the runners.

“When we first opened registration new expected to see 100-125 runners – as of (Oct. 14) we are up to 285,” said Brown.

The traditional 5K and 1K walk start the day off at 9 a.m. The time that the Survivor Run begins is dependent on the finish time of the 5K participants (Brown estimates that the Survivor Run will start near 11 a.m.). The Survivor Run route will be identical same as the traditional 5K, with no obstacles apart from the zombies (to see a map of the race route visit the photos section the event Facebook page listed below).

Participants will get a free t-shirt for the event, and medals, prizes and zombie themed items for the top finishers.

“We have seen a lot of interest in this event and that is the beauty of it. Volunteerism as a way of life and if this is a ‘hook’ to get people involved we will continue to do (hold future events),” said Brown, adding that the committee is already planning for 2014.

“The response in volunteer participation made (holding the event again next year) no question in my mind,” he said. “We are focused on making this the best program that we can so that it will continue in the future.”

Brown complimented Phoenixville Borough and Schuylkill Township for hosting the event.

“Both have been great to work with. Phoenixville is the perfect town for something like this because the community embraces the festival culture.”

He also thanked the many Boy Scout volunteers that mobilized to get people excited about the event and about the rewards of volunteering.

“We are really looking toward this and are thrilled that we are able to have a fun event that gives back to the community,” he said.

Tickets for the Zombie Run are available through TicketLeap at http://phoenixville.ticketleap.com/zombierun

For event updates, promotions, discounts and giveaways for the Phoenixville Zombie Run and Fun Day:

Follow and “Like” the event on Facebook at http://facebook.com/phoenixvillezombierun

Attention Social Media Users: there will be a Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest hashtag for the event. It will start day of, and continue post-event, with tweets, photos and videos. All runners and participants are encouraged to tag tweets, photos and videos with #PhoenixvilleZombie

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