NEW ORLEANS, September 23, 2013— The dead rose from their graves to hunt for the first time since the reign of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau on Saturday.
The first annual Z-Day 5K and Festival, sponsored by NOLA Zombi, was held in Kenner, Louisiana, and focused on a 3.1 mile obstacle course comprised of muck, blood, and Zombies.
The race route involved dashing through different varieties of terrain, like woodlands, sand, and mud, and the obstructions on the race route were created with military marathons in mind. Over a dozen obstacles were expected throughout the run for participants to jump, climb, or crawl around.
However, one element of the South could be counted on to complicate the affair— the weather. The president of NOLA Zombi, Jon Renaudin, joked, “That’s Louisiana for you.” Around 3:30 a.m., on the morning of the race, severe storms hit the area and volunteers were forced to halt the construction of the course.
Although the city of Kenner was very accommodating to the organization, certain regulations required the Z-Day 5K and Festival to be set up in a short period of time. On top of that, the race incorporated the levee, which had a series of restrictions on it that they had to work around with various outside parties.
The event, which was scheduled to kickoff at 8 a.m., sent out the first heat of runners at 7:45 a.m. The rain had let up enough that Renaudin could follow a group of participants through the course, which still included mud pits, hay bales, low-lying cargo nets, and monkey bars. Additionally, the black pipes were set up to crawl through and both pairs of 8 foot and 6 foot walls were secured. The final set of racers was permitted onto the circuit at 4:30 p.m.
Due to the torrential downpour, the two opening bands, Tryal & Error and Little Freddie King, were cancelled. The rain finally stopped between 9 and 10 a.m., so Hot 8 Brass Band took to the stage at 11. The festival area was also lined with tents from local restaurants, such as Rotolo’s Pizzeria and Winn Dixie, serving Southern specialities like alligator on a stick. Budweiser had a bustling beverage booth set up and the merchandise stand offered backpacks, tee-shirts, koozies, and first annual festival posters. Valley Forge Military Academy, from Wayne, Pennsylvania, also occupied a stall, offering general information and support to its graduate, Renaudin.
The NOLA Zombi employees and volunteers, with the first ever Z-Day 5K and Festival under their belts, are beyond prepared for their future events. Their obstacles, built from scratch, are now assembled, safety regulated, and ready for another race. They hope for more leeway on the time limit to set up the course, as they plan on rearranging the maze for runners and adding in the obstructions fit for drier weather. Their fantastic finish, the slide that plummets participants into a vat of blood and ligaments, will also be included.
The purpose behind the festival, however, was undoubtedly fulfilled, rain or shine. Both the Jefferson Parish and Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals represented their organizations at the site, as the event donated a portion of their profits to them. Renaudin, the owner of six rescued pets, personally supports the causes and, alternately, encouraged NOLA Zombi to as well.
The unexpected downpour kept the charities from bringing many animals, but a happy ending for one dog happened regardless. Sheltered at the Jefferson SPCA, the canine was next in line for euthanasia because of an overpopulation issue. Fortunately, an army medic from Houston, Texas, spotted the hound and adopted it before the end of the afternoon. Zombies may crave human flesh, but everyone, breathing or dead, had a soft spot for puppies.
NOLA Zombi’s next venture involves infesting the Krewe of Boo on Saturday, October 26th, with their Marching Dead. Registration is now open online at http://nolazombi.com/online-registration/ for the event in the French Quarter and Warehouse District of New Orleans and offering perks, like parade throws, drinks, and an after party, featuring the band Flow Tribe. Mardi Gras is also expected to include the horde of Zombies, with the specific parades to be announced at a later date.
The next prospective race will occur in spring 2014 at the same festival site, 5000 Williams Boulevard at Laketown Park in Kenner, Louisiana. Then, NOLA Zombi will lurch across state lines to Orlando, Florida, for their third Z-Day 5K and Festival.
These Zombies are out of their graves for good and, if you can’t outrun them, join them.
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