BEING THERE: I Walked With A Zombie

The author. Photo by JESSICA DURKIN

BY DANIELLE HAGERTY Pretty much everyone is a zombie at 5 a.m., which is when I awoke from the dead to join the undead in chasing down the non-zombie runners at yesterday’s Zombie Run 5K in deep south Philly. Arriving at FDR Park at around 7:00, I headed over to the media tent to sign in, where I scarfed down a bagel to give me the energy to chase the food that I was really after: BRAINS!

The temperature was barely skimming 40 degrees, but I was mistaken in deeming those dressed in shorts and T-shirts the most crazily runners. There were groups of girls in tutus and stockings, a Captain Rhodes from Day Of The Dead, not one, but two Where’s Waldo? costumes, and even a baby zombie that was in front of me as I stood in line to get my makeup done. My sister ended up sitting next to Adrianne Curry, the reality-star host, as we both got our faces zombified by professional makeup artists. After we got our zombie on, we ran to our appointed spots on the trail where we would terrorize the living.

In all, there were nearly 4,000 runners, each with three red balloons tied to a band around their waists. It was our job as zombies to pop as many balloons as possible. When all three balloons are popped, you’re dead.

As the first wave of runners approached, I put on my most kill face and sprinted after passing runners like a dog chasing a mailman. People who are alive, however, tend to be much faster than people who are dead, er undead. I had a hard time catching the first few runners as they dodged me, leaving me empty-handed and out of breath. My sister and I devised some new tactics for snagging runner’s balloons. One of my tactics was to lie on the grass and pretend to be dead and then jump up with a growl at them, triggering roars of laughter from the runners. Having disarmed them with laughter, I’d steal every balloon in sight. Before long we had an impressive pile of the absconded balloons. I busted a certain teenaged boy in Italian flag shorts in the middle of stealing our balloons and re-hooking them onto his waistband and popped all the pilfered balloons. Another method that my sister found to be effective was the obligatory sneak attack. We would feign nonchalance, luring the runners a false sense of security as we waited for them to pass before we struck them from behind.

After a little over an hour, the steady stream of mere mortals began to peter out. As my sister and I walked over to the afterparty, which was hosted by WMMR, I was kind of glad to be done. Turns out scaring the hell out of the living is hard work. My job wasn’t quite over yet, as people pointed and fake-screamed and still expected a performance out of us and we graciously complied because nobody likes an ungracious zombie. We growled and chased and even posed for pictures with people. The afterparty was fun, although I didn’t stay for the whole thing. After dancing to “Jump On It,” I decided to call it a day at 10:30 a.m. Even zombies need sleep.