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Long Islanders run for their 'lives,' and Special Olympics, at Zombie 5k

Kristina Fiakos, 16, of Massapequa, pretends to bite

Kristina Fiakos, 16, of Massapequa, pretends to bite Michael Shelton, 17, also of Massapequa, before the start of the inaugural Rundead Zombie 5k hosted by Special Olympics New York at Brady Park in Massapequa Park. (Nov. 2, 2013). Credit: Michael Cusanelli

Massapequa Park was swarming with the undead Saturday morning, as hundreds of joggers ran for their “lives” -- but more importantly for charity -- during the inaugural Rundead Zombie 5k in Brady Park to raise money for Special Olympics New York.

"It's perfect for the season, zombies chasing runners, and you get to be made up. What more fun could that be?" said Lori Todd, 56, of Massapequa, who was dressed in full zombie makeup. "And it goes to a great cause. I've been looking forward to this all week."

But these weren't the terrifying hordes seen on popular shows like "The Walking Dead." Instead of eating brains, zombies were tasked with stealing runners’ flags in order to "eat" them. When a runner lost all three of their flags, they were declared "dead."

Participants shrieked their way through the woods hoping to avoid "Runner" and "Crawler" zombies lurking behind trees and blocking paths. Joggers who were able to make it through the entire course without losing all of their flags were awarded gift cards.

“This is the first time we’re doing this event on Long Island. It started in our upstate office last year,” said Diane Colonna, regional director for the Long Island office of Special Olympics New York. “It was extremely successful so we thought to ourselves, ‘Let’s bring it down here and raise some money for our athletes.’”

About 600 joggers and zombies participated in the charity run. Special Olympics New York expected to raise about $25,000 from the race. Special Olympic athletes were not charged to participate in the 5k. Everyone else could choose to be either runners or zombies during sign up.

"I always wanted to do a 5k, and the thought of being chased by people in masks is awesome," said Jared Stoler, from Plainview. "I'm a big zombie fan and I enjoy them, and I thought this would be totally cool."

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