From beneath the brim of a baseball cap, Paul VanLuvender calmly scanned the rocky ground.
‚??Zombies aren‚??t really my thing,‚?Ě the Taylor resident said as he looked toward the muddy pit where the next wave of survivors was due to come slogging out of the woods.
‚??I really just wanted to help out a good cause in the community,‚?Ě said VanLuvender, one of the volunteers working to make the Sept. 22 ‚??Zombie Survivor Challenge‚?Ě 5K a success.
Part of the Infect Scranton ‚??zombie con,‚?Ě this was not your average five-kilometer race. Runners departed from John Derenick Park on a meandering course through the woods, strewn not just with obstacles but also leering zombies popping out to scare them off their game.
Few seemed too put out by the zombies, though some exhausted runners did seem a little hesitant to take the final plunge when they saw the muddy brown pit that was the final obstacle standing between them and the finish line.
‚??Jump! Jump!‚?Ě onlookers cried, and one-by-one the runners dived into the muck to emerge victorious, survivors of the rugged Downvalley terrain more than anything else.
Dripping with slimy brown water, the finishers emerged from the puddle, stood straight, then bowed their heads as organizer Faith Loiselle, of Taylor, slid red ribbons around sweaty necks, zombie survivor medals dangling proudly against many a mud-stained chest.
‚??At last count, we had 434 people registered,‚?Ě Loiselle said between waves of runners, spaced at half-hour intervals. The run attracted participants from across the region and beyond. Finishers who spoke with Go Lackawanna included residents of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, Philadelphia and Binghamton, N.Y.
Meanwhile, organizers were preparing for Infect Scranton‚??s signature event nearby -- a convention at Riverside High School featuring panel discussions and celebrity guests. The convention got under way as Go Lackawanna was going to press, with photos to follow in the Sept. 30 edition.
A zombie brunch was planned for today, Sunday, Sept. 23 at Colarusso‚??s La Palazzo in Moosic to benefit the Taylor Community Library.