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    Saturday, March 02, 2024

    Shrieks and Laughter, in Equal Measure

    ordes of hale and hearty humans set out for a leisurely jog along a local trail, only to find themselves dodging flesh-craving zombies.

    It's not the plot of the season premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead. It's a scene from the upcoming Run of the Dead (ROTD) to benefit the Valley-Shore YMCA on Sunday, Oct. 26.

    The Run of the Dead returns to Chester's Camp Hazen this year after a successful debut in 2013. Last fall, ROTD welcomed approximately 300 participants, says Valley-Shore YMCA Executive Director Chris Pallatto. Of those, about 40 chose to run as "zombies," while the rest-"humans"-hit Hazen's trails, trying to avoid losing one of their three "lives"-represented by flags tucked into their outfits-to the undead enemy.

    Again this year, runners can choose to participate as a human or a zombie. The goal for humans is to "make it through the race with at least one of your flags left," according to ROTD's website, www.runofthedeadct.com. "At the start of the race, zombie participants will be released first so they can infiltrate the course and prepare ambushes at key locations. There will be the chance to regain health during the race by completing additional objectives... [Throughout], obstacles and post-apocalyptic scenery test your ability to survive the zombie invasion."

    The ROTD committee, which consists of about eight members and relies on 50 volunteers on the day of the event, has made a few tweaks to this year's run.

    "We took the feedback we got last year and ran with it (pun intended). We've created a new off-course environment with activities and free food, as well as adjusted the course to create a better overall experience," said ROTD Co-Chair Mike Storiale.

    While runners were released onto the trails in waves last year, this year they will set out at roughly the same time, in three-minute intervals. This, Pallatto says, will make for "a more festive after-party," another new addition. Participants are invited to a barbecue at the conclusion of the event. The cost is included in the registration price, and wrist bands for guests and spectators are available for $5 per person.

    There will also be a bigger emphasis on family this year, says Pallatto. A kids' fun run will kick off the day at 10:45 a.m., and there will be family-friendly activities like cornhole.

    "Our goal for the race is to provide families and individuals with a creative, fun, and active outdoor experience," he says. "Despite the macabre title, the event is truly a family-friendly event from start to finish, with...lots of shrieks of laughter."

    The Details

    The Run of the Dead is on Sunday, Oct. 26 at Camp Hazen, 204 West Main Street, Chester. The kids' fun run begins at 10:45 a.m. All kids will receive a medal. The race begins at 11 a.m., with waves of runners released onto the course every few minutes. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m., it is recommended that participants pick up their packet on Friday, Oct. 24 between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. or Saturday, Oct. 25 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Valley-Shore YMCA, 201 Spencer Plains Road, Westbrook. Zombies must arrive at

    10 a.m. on the day of the event for a meeting to review the course, finalize makeup, etc.

    Footwear appropriate for a trail run is suggested. The first 300 participants will get a T-shirt. A barbecue will be held for all participants following the run. The cost is included in the registration fee; spectators and guests can purchase $5 tickets for the barbecue.

    For more information and to register, visit www.runofthedeadct.com. The cost to run as a human is $40. The cost to hunt as a zombie is $20.

    This event is a benefit for the Valley-Shore YMCA. Major sponsors include Tower Labs, Ivoryton Playhouse, Brown & Knapp, Guilford Savings Bank, and Harbor News.

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