PHOENIXVILLE — Screams could be heard echoing down tree-lined Second Avenue as runners tried to avoid the blood-thirsty zombies dotting the route.
It wasn’t a Halloween horror movie, but the first Phoenixville Zombie Run and Fun Day Saturday morning at Reeves Park.
Approximately 600 participants donned costumes and running shoes for the event, which included the main attraction — a 5K survivor race — as well as a 1K run and a zombie-free 5K.
Until the race started, the zombies and runners coexisted peacefully in the park dancing to music, climbing a rock wall and playing games.
But once the race began — it was survival of the fastest.
Beverly Zink, of Phoenixville, was covered in light green makeup with fake blood dripping down her face from a prosthetic head wound.
She waited with her arms outstretched in a classic zombie pose before the first runners strode past, hoping to get away with their lives.
“Our job is to get the ribbons and ‘kill’ the people,” Zink said. “If they don’t have any ribbons well, then, we’ve eaten them.”
When the runners checked in, they were given belts with red flags attached. If a runner lost all their flags, they were ‘dead.’ Despite ‘dying,’ participants could still finish the race.
Even though the zombies took their jobs seriously, watching them bob and weave through clumps of runners brought smiles and laughs from spectators and participants alike.
“We did get pleasantly overwhelmed with how many people showed up,” said coordinator Bob Brown.
Brown, who wore a sheriff costume, said he was happy with the event, despite a few first-year hiccups.
A majority of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Phoenixville Area Community Services, Brown said.
The services help residents in Phoenixville, Schuylkill Township, East Pikeland Township, West Pikeland Township, Mont Clare and Oaks, according to the charity’s website.
Brown estimates the race raised more than $10,000. The money that does not all go to PACS, as some must be used to pay vendors and as seed money for the event next year, according to Brown.
Even though the event was a fundraiser, Brown was most impressed with the family turnout and how many people stepped up to volunteer.
“I saw kids as young as three years old out on the course and kids in zombie makeup,” he said. “I also like that we have a lot of opportunities for people to volunteer in different capacities.”
Family groups and friends stretched while they waited at the starting line.
Madison Humphry, 13, of Audubon, learned about the run and fun day online.
“I’ve wanted to do a zombie run and a mud run for a while,” she said.
Humphry and her friend Chloe Withers stood in bright pink tutus and yellow spandex shorts with matching shirts. The two friends thought the run would be a fun way to spend time together.
“We are neon ninjas,” Withers said.
Along with the neon ninjas, there were multiple pairs of “Eat her” and “Eat him” shirts — a final, last ditch plea to the zombies. A large group of Waldo look alikes huddled toward the middle of the pack as they passed the hungry undead.
In the first quarter mile, runners had to dodge seven savage zombies. Once the chaos cleared, Zink had a fistful of red flags.
Before the first runner crossed the finish line, Brown was already thinking about future races.
He said he hopes that the run and fun day grow bigger next year.