ROCKINGHAM – The walking dead were alive and well Wednesday night at Hinson Lake as masses of costumed Richmond Senior High School marching band members staggered after participants in the program’s inaugural Zombie 5K.
The race event was hosted by Raider Band Fan, which is a non-profit organization that serves as a booster for the Raider Marching Band.
There were 22 registered racers who participated in the fundraising event, and they followed the trail around the lake, all whilst remaining aware of potential threats from looming and hidden “zombies.” Each runner was allotted 10 lives at the start of the race, and lost them if and when “attacked” by the 30-plus zombies on the course.
Those not interested in running were able to collect candy from similarly dressed band members, as the entire event captured the spirit of the Halloween season.
Raider Marching Band director Mike Ward was pleased with the first-time event, and noted that his band members did a great job at spooking runners during the race.
“It was a really good turnout, especially for it being our first time having this event,” Ward said. “In growing the event, we hope to have an even bigger turnout next year.”
In conjunction with the race, a fall carnival and costume competition was held to recognize the most authentic zombie look-alikes, among several other categories. Following “running for their lives”, and collecting candy, participants managed to eat pizza despite being surrounded by gruesome characters that looked like they belonged on a Hollywood television set.
A mock warning sign alerted runners that zombies were on the loose at Hinson Lake Wednesday night.
One family that braved the zombie apocalypse run was the Hutchinsons, comprised of Rockingham Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson, his wife Sharon, and their three children, John Patrick, 9, Alex, 7, and Eve, 4.. Originally planning to just compete in the 5K, Hutchinson said his family had such a great time they ended up, “closing down the whole thing.”
“I think it needs to be an annual part of the county’s October schedule” Hutchinson said. “The band members and band boosters did an excellent job. They created something very different from the other Halloween activities we’re all accustomed to, and all five of us had a huge time.
‘It’s always good to see someone or some group bring something different, new and exciting to town,” Hutchinson continued. “The Zombie Run was both of those things. My wife and I purposely seek out things that will help make our three children’s small-town childhoods fun and memorable. It’s important to us that they have really happy memories of growing up here. “
Though he lost all of his lives by race’s end, Hutchinson finished first in the 50-and-over age group.
John Patrick and Alex both ran alongside their dad in the 5k and both expressed having, “a lot of fun.” They are already planning their strategy for next year’s race, but kept their plan a secret. Eve, meanwhile, enjoyed the candy trail.
“This is exactly the kind of creative event that makes for great family memories,” Hutchinson added. “And, as a bonus, it raises money for a good cause.
“For me, the highlight would be seeing just how much fun the children had. But dodging zombies out on the trail, with a little autumn chill in the air, was a really close second.”
Ward stated there would be more fundraisers in the future for the Richmond Marching Band, and that the band has a competition this Saturday at South Columbus High School in Tabor City, N.C.