Moans, groans and screams could be heard along Duluth’s Lakewalk last Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. The Halloween weekend kicked off with the first ever Surviving the Duluth Zombie Apocalypse put on by Secret Service Entertainment and Draw Events.
Surviving the Duluth Zombie Apocalypse was a zombie tag game in which participants signed up to be either humans or zombies during the race. The humans ran along the Lakewalk from Leif Erickson Park to the Maritime Museum trying to avoid being tagged by the zombies. If a human was tagged, he or she became a zombie and was then able to assist in “killing” the remaining humans.
Craig Samborski, of Draw Events, wanted to bring a popular game that can be found all over the country to Duluth.
“There are a bunch of these that take place all over the country,” Samborski said. “One specific event happened in Norfolk, Va. We saw a bunch of media about that and thought it was cool. There’s a lot of great information on the Internet about playing zombie tag, so all of those sources inspired us.”
A portion of each one of the tickets sold will go to Life House Duluth, which is a shelter for homeless teens in the area.
The first three humans to make it to the Maritime Museum were awarded prizes, as well as the three zombies with the highest “kill” total. The prizes were given out at Grandma’s Sports Garden after all participants had completed the race. Participants were then able to talk with each other about their strategies and difficulties with the race.
Kyle Middleton started the race as a human, but got transformed into a zombie about a minute and a half into the race.
“I was running along and this girl, who was a zombie, jumped out and she almost fell over,” Middleton said. “I laughed, but then I had to revert and ran right into (a zombie) so he tagged me right away.”
Becoming a zombie that early on didn’t hurt Middleton’s chances for success as he ended the race with nine total “kills”. That number was enough to earn him the third highest spot in the zombie category.
The finish line showed to be an intense zone as runners were desperately trying to avoid last-minute zombie tags. One determined human sprinted for his life, weaving in between cars in the Maritime Museum parking lot as two zombies followed his every move. He ended up bolting out of the parking lot, making a beeline for the final checkpoint, and nearly ran over eager onlookers in the process.
University of Minnesota Duluth students Kaleb Springer, Ryan Delage, Aaron Donais and Anthony Nguyen started the race as a team of humans, though not all of them ended with that same title.
“I got past the third checkpoint (Endion Station) and then I got tagged,” said Donais. “I ended up walking the rest of the race with Anthony. I didn’t tag him because I honestly had no idea that he was still human.”
The three survivors of the group attributed their survival to not trusting a single person they came across and the difficulty of staying on the course.
“We got lost, so we got away from the crowd and the zombies,” Nguyen said. “That definitely helped us, but it hurt us at the same time because we took so long finishing the course.”
There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the event, from both participants and Samborski, who revealed that there will be a second zombie tag event next year. Delage and his friends are already planning ahead for next year’s race.
“Oh we’ll definitely do it again,” said Delage. “Now we’ve got a game plan!”