"It's like Comic-Con but with zombies, and it's awesome," Chilcoat said.

Fun to scare people

One zombie has achieved a particular level of notoriety after appearing in early trailers, or previews for the first event. Gabe Romero donned a red, yellow and blue clown outfit, complete with makeup, a red wig and big red shoes for what he said was his fourth race.

"It's just fun scaring people," Romero, a Rockville resident, said. "It tends to make a lot of people stop and think twice, but that's the fun of it."


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In addition to the 2011 Darlington race, Romero participated in the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania events earlier this year. He came up with the idea for a zombie clown from "a little bit of [the movie] Zombieland and just to mess with people."

"It's simple makeup, but it's acting the role that induces a mortal fear," Romero said, adding that "even as a stumbler it's very exhausting." He plans to run in multiple states next year.

The race, to say the least, is a grueling challenge as well.

'Almost impossible'

"At some parts, it's almost impossible to make it through [an obstacle] without losing a flag," said Hanover, Pa. resident Ben Markle, who ran with his friends Shannon and Justin Pierce from York, Pa.

"[The zombies] have strategy," Justin Pierce said. "If they see you have more flags, they target you."

"This one guy got tired and just handed his flag to a zombie," Markle said laughing. "It's a tough course, with a lot of hills. You're tired and they're waiting for you at the bottom of a hill."

All three were experienced runners, with Markle even having experience with endurance runs. Only Justin Pierce, who is more of a sprinter, managed to finish the race with a flag remaining.

"One out of three ain't bad, huh?" Markle laughed. Still, the race was worth it for all three participants.

"It's fun, because you don't have to be the best runner in the world to enjoy it," said Shannon Pierce.

Running for two

One participant didn't even let being 11 weeks pregnant stop her from running.

"Shh! Don't tell anybody!" Julie Pendergrass said, laughing while riding on the shuttle from the parking area to the campgrounds. "This is the only race I do for fun."

Pendergrass, from Nottingham, Pa. has participated in charity 5Ks and half-mile runs in the past. She ran in the race Saturday with her friend, Scott Berrier, who she met in the previous year after she fell during the race and he nearly ran over her.

"He almost plowed into me," Pendergrass said. Both were excited about this year's race.

"It's putting yourself in the zombie apocalypse," Berrier, from Lancaster, Pa, said. "It's like an episode of [the AMC TV series] The Walking Dead."