Dash If You Dare, Zombie Dash Returns to GR


The seventh annual Zombie Dash 5K returns to Grand Rapids on Saturday, Oct. 20. In this fun, role-play race, runners represent a small band of survivors who avoided a viral outbreak. In this dystopian plot, racers are on a mission to scout out the urban quarantine area at dusk and survive the ravenous zombies who roam at night. The objective is to make it 3.1 miles untouched and unscathed.

Raymond Pashier, co-race director, said each year an effort is made enhance the race with new elements. “It is local-centric to Grand Rapids, but it attracts people from all over the state and even out of state,” he said.

Information for Runners

Pashier explained that the format for the race has been the same each year. “Every runner gets three life strips that they tuck into their shorts, and then there are certain areas on the course where zombies can walk and grab those life strips from the runners. The objective is to finish the race with life strips, and for each life strip remaining, time is deducted from the racers’ final finish time.”

There are two “feed zones” along the course where zombies may try to take racers’ life strips, making them lose a life. There is no penalty for losing all three lives and you may still complete the race, however, racers who finish with any life strips remaining will have one minute per life strip deducted from their final time. Runners, who prefer not to be chased by zombies, may run without life strips.

Racers receive a custom glow in the dark t-shirt, a race bib with timing chip, a finisher’s medal and refreshments. Kids 10 and under may run free with their parents. Kids are not timed and do not get a shirt, but they do receive a small kid’s medal when they finish. Kids 10 and under do not have to be registered online, they just need a signed waiver and to pick up a special kids bib at registration.

The race begins and ends at Sixth Street Park at 6:45 p.m. There are no waves, so racers can start whenever they’d like, in small groups or solo. The starting line will close at 7:15 p.m. and all racers should have started their run by that time.

Age group award pickups for runners will begin at 8 p.m. No formal awards ceremony is held. The race route is flat, equipped with three refreshment stations and hundreds of slow-moving, yet deadly “zombies.”

Information for Zombies

So where do the zombies come from? Zombies are members of the community who dress up and roam the streets, taunting racers, motivating them to race even faster and reach safety. The Zombie Dash is always looking for more voluntary zombies, so if you are not into running and prefer a slow shuffle, grunting and dressing like the undead, visit thezombiedash.com to become a registered zombie.

Zombies receive a free shirt and get to enjoy spooking racers all night long, and there will be a best-dressed zombie contest at the end of the night. Zombies are asked to dress in ragged attire with distressed hair and makeup, and at 8:15 p.m. after the race has closed the zombie costume awards will kick off.

Zombies are asked to remain on the 5K course for the duration of the race, from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Zombies in a “scare zone” may only scare (for safety reasons), and zombies in a “feed zone” may attempt to grab a runner’s life strips at a “realistically slow pace.”

Pashier said this year there will be even more zombies and additional props to set the mood. “We bring in abandoned cars and set them up on the second half of the race route. We call it Apocalypse Avenue. This makes it more interesting for the runners and zombies.”

Additional Information

Each year, a portion of the profits from the Zombie Dash 5K goes to Michigan Blood and the Michigan Blood Stem Cell Programs.

Friends and family are encouraged to come out and watch the race. Race route maps are posted on the race website.

The Dash will happen rain or shine…or snow! In the event of a thunderstorm or tornado, the race will be postponed until conditions improve. Racers and spectators are encouraged to bring rain gear and umbrellas if necessary.


Runners and zombies can register through Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. online at thezombiedash.com. Zombies are free, but must still register online. (Note: a custom shirt is NOT guaranteed after this date/time as we put our shirt order in on October 10). For information on group discounts or military discounts, visit email racedirector@thezombiedash.com for a discount code.

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