The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 19, 2012

Zombie craze coming to Honey Creek Resort

CENTERVILLE — On Saturday night, Honey Creek Resort State Park is scheduled to become the site of a zombie apocalypse — at least for a couple of hours.

Jacob Ahee, a naturalist at the state park, is planning an event called the Undeadathlon: a four-kilometer run featuring humans trying to get away from zombies. He said he was inspired by his own love of zombie movies and by the fact that larger cities often put on zombie walks.

“It seems the logical step is to bring it to life for people down here,” he said. “We don’t have opportunities like this down here. Some of the bigger cities do, but if they are able to do it, we should be able to do it.”

Ahee said one of his goals is to create more events at the resort aimed at teenagers and young adults. Another of his goals is to introduce people to the trails, which are free and open to anyone.

The Undeadathlon will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a brain-eating competition. Six pre-selected contestants will race to see who can eat a brain (really a Jell-O mold) the fastest.

One of the six people in the brain-eating contest will be Josh Tuttle, a high school senior who works at the resort part time in the activities department and at the front desk.

He said he is excited for the zombie event because he is a big fan of the TV show “The Walking Dead.”

“Hopefully it will turn into an annual event which will bring more locals out,” he said. “We have complaints about the prices and stuff, but we also offer free events like this.”

At 7 p.m., participants will start the four-kilometer run on a dark trail lit with glow sticks. Participants can play one of two roles: a hero, in other words a human trying to make it through the trail without being attacked by zombies, or a zombie.

Zombies can only walk, they can’t run, but they can come at heroes from any direction on the trail and will not all start in the same place.

“Runners can carry a flashlight if they want to, but it’s really going to make them stand out a lot more and be a target,” Ahee said.

The heroes will have flags like in flag football, and once the zombies have captured all three of a hero’s flags that person is considered dead. First responders will be present in case of injury.

After the run, participants can gather at the pavilion for a DJ, karaoke and a bonfire. A buffet and a bar will be available and will be the only part of the event that costs money, Ahee said.

He said he is not sure what the turnout will be like, but he has talked to some cross country runners about coming out to try to outrun the zombies, and some of his own friends from college are coming down to participate and check out the resort.

“It’s a test thing,” he said. “If it does well we will continue to do more things like this and it will get bigger every year.”

Ahee said if the event is a success, in the future a makeup station might be available ahead of time, but for this year he is asking those coming as zombies to do their own makeup.

Ahee said he anticipates having a prize for the best time for a runner and a prize for the most runners killed by a zombie. Next weekend, the resort will have more traditional seasonal programming for the Fall Harvest Festival on Oct. 26 and 27. Ahee said that event will be more for families, with hayrides, costume contests and pumpkin carving contests.  The Undeadathlon is for those ages 13 and up, and participants have to sign a standard waiver like the ones commonly used for running events. Anyone looking for more information on the Undeadathlon, including the waiver, can visit the event’s Facebook page.

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