Event offers the chance to chase or be chased

By Ludwig Gerdes

Saturday’s Zombie Dash 5K run, sponsored by the Clinton Rosette Middle School Parent Teachers Associate, marked the first of its kind to take place in DeKalb.

Runners arrived at 8 a.m. to register at Clinton Rosette Middle School (CRMS), 650 N. First St., and chose to participate as humans, zombies, or medics. Each human runner was given a flag which represented his or her life, while zombies would be given a point for each life they were able to take while running. Medics were allowed to run without the responsibility of chasing or being chased. Human winners were determined by the three fastest runners finishing with their life intact, while the winning zombies were determined by the number of lives they had taken.

Prior to the start of the race, zombie participants were “zombified” by volunteers who painted faces and applied ghoulish tattoos. Volunteer groups included Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Phi Omega, NIU Gymnastics, NIU Football, NIU Basketball, the NIU kinesiology and physical education department, DeKalb High School (DHS) Baseball, DHS National Honor Society, CRMS Green Club and CRMS families and parents. These groups assisted in registration while also acting as guides and helping to provide directions to participants.

Jamie Vilet, one of the organizers of the Zombie 5K and president of the CRMS PTA, said that when it came to organizing the event, she wanted to ensure it was successful.

“I researched 5Ks in the area and found that the market is saturated,” Vilet said. “The usual attendance is less than 100 people for most first 5Ks. I wanted to do something bigger.”

Vilet said she came upon the solution when she thought about her own love for zombie themes.

“I am a huge zombie fan, so when I came across the zombie adventure races, I put two and two together,” Vilet said. “How great would be if you could sign up for a race and be the zombie [and] not just run from the zombie?”

Saydie and Ella Holland, sisters who participated in the race as zombies and came in first and second place respectively, agreed with Vilet.

“It’s scary not to be a zombie,” Ella Holland said.

Saydie Holland explained part of the sisters’ strategy.

“We wanted to sprint out fast and get all the slower humans,” Saydie Holland said.

Ella Holland said they wanted to stay together and get people on the straightaways. By the end of the race, Saydie and Ella had claimed twenty and fourteen lives, respectively.

Tony Portugal, the first place human participant, said the uniqueness of the event should convince more people to participate in years to come.

“It’s a fun race,” Portugal said. “I’ve never ran a 5K like this before.”

Over 240 runner participated in the Zombie 5K, but Vilet said she is not resting on her laurels. She said she hopes for at least 300 runners in next year’s 5K.

All proceeds from the race went to improving the Clinton Rosette Middle School computer lab and other technology purchases.