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Zombies taking over Burl's Creek in September

Lance Holdforth

By Lance Holdforth, Special to QMI Agency

The dead will rise and participants will be running for their lives at the Dead and Running Zombie Run hosted by the Grance Centre Lions Club.

The dead will rise and participants will be running for their lives at the Dead and Running Zombie Run hosted by the Grance Centre Lions Club.

ORO-MEDONTE TWP.  — The zombie apocalypse is coming, and Barrie residents will have to run for their lives and dodge hordes of undead flesh-eaters to survive

More than 800 'zombies' will be unearthed at Burl's Creek Family Event park on Sept. 22 where the Run For Your Lives five-kilometre obstacle race will have participants trying to evade 'instant death'.

Senior event co-ordinator Alyssa Omlie says participants are in for a wild ride.

"We have every kind of zombie that there is," she said. "We have slow, stumbling zombies that might be missing a limb or two. We also have the fast brain-hungry ones who are just trying to get a bite of the action."

Ryan Hogan and Derek Smith started the race in Maryland as a way to promote the Warwear clothing line, but added zombies and obstacles to the race to make it interesting, Omlie said.

"They thought about having people run from something," she said. "So they thought people can run from zombies, so now they have to run for their lives."

The first event was held last October and has since grown to 13 races across the U.S. and the Burl's Creek event will be the first time the run will be held in Canada.

"We have about 800 zombies going out there. It's a zombie horde," Omlie said. "You can expect that there will be a lot of them hidden in different areas in the course."

Each runner will carry a flag representing life, but if a zombie removes the flag it may mean a slow death unless one of the few health kits are found, Omlie said.

"We try to make some areas where you're not sure where the next turn will lead you. It might lead you to a dead end or it might lead you to a health pack," Omlie said. "It's something that will keep your blood pumping throughout the entire course."

Although zombie registration is sold out for every event, 1,500 runners have registered for the Burl's Creek run, but Omlie anticipates more than 8,000 people will sign up by the time registration ends on Sept. 18.

The park will be transformed into an apocalyptic wasteland where mankind is threatened with extinction and blood pits, cargo nets, trenches and surprises obstacles stand in the way of survival.

"They open the gates and you are released into an apocalyptic world. It's crazy," Omlie said. "It's a completely new feeling once you're out there. It's woods that you have to go through, it's natural terrain and there's the obstacles you have to go through."

Participants will be released into the course by waves every half hour from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as runners and zombies ages 14 to 65 have to fend for themselves.

"We have chasers and stumblers out on the course. People will be running through trying to escape the chasers, but they might get a flag pulled by a crawler on the ground," Omlie said. "They are the hardest part because you could finish the cargo net and then a chaser will come right out afterwards and try to grab a flag."

When 'zombies' arrive the day of the event, a team of make-up artists will transform humans into the undead, but if participants have a favourite costume, Omlie said they're a welcomed addition.

"We have a team that will do the make-up for you, so we encourage our zombies to come fresh-faced, but ready to get gory. They bloody up the clothes, they get you all nice and tattered," she said. "I have actually seen a grown man who was a runner scream like a little girl because a younger zombie came out and scared him."

Events in Massachusetts, Missouri, Indiana, Washington have all reached 90% capacity, but the San Diego sold out completely, resulting in an additional run being added.

"The biggest obstacle are the zombies," Omlie said. "If you're ready for a first-of-its-kind experience, come out and try out our apocalyptic world."

Zombies can't be 'killed' in the run scenario, which may add to the gruesomeness of the event, Omlie said.

"We do like to save some for a surprise, but what I can say is that we have a shocking finish," she said. "We have a higher kill rate. I think it's the fact that the obstacles are demanding plus the zombies are super-hungry for your brains."

The course will prove to be difficult for some, and the finish line will have exits for the living and the dead, but all are invited to the after party where prizes will be awarded and 12 bands will perform.

"Everyone is going to be having a good time," Omlie said.

Packages start at $77 for runners which includes a t-shirt, a beer ticket, a race medal and access to the safe zone and entrance to the Apocalypse party.

Spectators can view the carnage and join the party for $32.

Prices will go up on Aug. 1.

For information, visit

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