Jonathan Martinez regarded his prey with cold, almost dead, eyes as the runners left the pier and wound their way up the path back into the park.
Dorothy Provencio, Julie Stone and Michelle Clemann approached the sewer plant thinking they had left the other zombies behind when Martinez staggered toward them, blocking their path.
"She used me as a human sacrifice," Provencio said, pointing at Stone.
Provencio, Stone and Clemann were participating in Crescent City's "Zombie: Run from the Horde" fundraiser Sunday. They ended up back at the starting point with their brains intact, but lost most of their flags. Provencio said they'll have a better idea of how to evade the zombies next time.
"We have to stay together and block for each other," she said. "We'll be back next year with a new strategy."
The zombie run raised $1,050 for the Fred Endert Municipal Pool, manager Matt Hildebrandt said. Fifty-eight zombies, runners and walkers - folks who donated $10 to walk the course but were immune from zombies - participated.
The "humans," in regular running garb with flags tied around their waist, started the run at the swimming pool, headed down Howe Drive, crossed B Street, climbed the hill to the Battery Point
Lighthouse parking lot and sprinted down to the checkpoint at the beach. They then returned to the parking lot, hustled down B Street to the end of the pier and sprinted back to the pool.
Some zombies appeared out of nowhere, ambushing the runners. Others attempted to run their prey down, snatching flags off their belts. Zombie members of the Tsunami Sirens roller derby team had another strategy.
"We created a zombie squad to give the runners a nice disadvantage for us to try to eat their brains out," said Ana Jaime, also known as Autopsy'ana #666 in roller derby. "We'll see how far and how fast they can run."
Since they were on skates they couldn't take flags, according to Hildebrandt. But that didn't stop them from rousting out all the other zombies, bellowing "flags!" at the top of their lungs.
"I told them they weren't allowed to grab flags, but they said don't tell the runners that way we're more intimidating," Hildebrandt said. "The runners for the most part didn't know they couldn't grab their flags. It did make it more fun for the roller derby team."
At the run's conclusion, prizes were given out to the "humans" who had the best times or kept most of their flags. The zombies were also congratulated on their look and act.
Even though she was bloody to begin with, Holly Meyer-Zlokovich poured more of the red stuff down her chin, neck and chest. Her skin had the greenish-grey tinge of decomposition, her slashed neck grinned at the other zombies.
"I love special effects makeup," Meyer-Zlokovich said, adding that she had made her neck wound the night before and awoke at 6 a.m. to blacken her teeth and do her makeup. "I'm a runner who was previously gotten by a zombie and I rotted just a little bit."
Hildebrandt said with the positive feedback he received, he considers the event a success. He came up with the idea of a Crescent City zombie run based on similar events elsewhere. Next year, Hildbrandt said he may try to get the word out about the event sooner.
Also, because of the chilly temperatures, the pier was slippery, Hildebrandt said.
"A couple people slipped on it, but nobody got hurt," he said. "We'll probably either not have them go out on the pier or have to walk on the pier."
The prizes were donated to the pool from Home Depot, Northwoods Inn, Christina's restaurant and Massage for Health. There was a silent auction for a Rumiano's gift basket, and Java Hut Express provided drink cards, Hildebrandt said. He added that McDonalds also donated drink vouchers for its McCafe beverages for him to give to the volunteers.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.