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Park Apocalypse brings the dead to life

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM
Prior to the 5K Park Apocalypse run at Grimes Farm Nature Center, the volunteer zombies received instructions on what they could and could not do as the runners approached them.

Around 80 runners faced the Park Apocalypse during the darkness of night and the colder temperatures of October.

The new event, sponsored by the Marshall County Conservation Board, was held at Grimes Farm Nature Center on Saturday and drew running enthusiasts eager for a fall 5K and horror fans who were eager to scare the runners as zombies.

The more than 70 volunteer zombies showed up early and got the appropriate makeup prior to the beginning of the run at 6 p.m. The zombie horde was separated into groups who were spread out over the trail. They were also given rules to follow, such as no grabbing the runners and no chasing after them. The only task the zombies had was to grab flags that were attached to the runners and be scary.

Two of the volunteer zombies were Danny Roberts of Gladbrook and Shawn Denton of Marshalltown.

Roberts took his teenage children with him.

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM
A sign posted outside of the Grimes Farm Nature Center greets people to the first Park Apocalypse held on Saturday.

“My kids are too old to trick or treat, but we still wanted to do something fun,” Roberts said. “We are not runners but this gets the kids out.”

Roberts had fake blood dripping off of his face and onto his clothing as he jumped out of the bushes at the runners, drawing screams of terror and surprise as the night became darker.

Denton said this was a fun and festive thing to do at this time of year.

“My wife is one of the runners and I get to be the one to go after her,” he said.

While Roberts hid and jumped out at runners from behind shrubbery, Denton wanted to use the inky blackness of night and the thick silence to his advantage.

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM
A group of runners escape a pack of volunteer zombies that jumped out at them during the Park Apocalypse at Grimes Farm Nature Center.

“I want to build the suspense after they go through an area,” Denton said.

After the run, zombies were given a free walking taco supper and everyone was invited to remain at the park for an outdoor showing of the 1982 “Poltergeist” movie.

Emily Herring, event coordinator and Marshall County naturalist, said there have already been a lot of requests to hold the event again.

“I think we would be in trouble if we didnt offer it again next year,” Herring said.