BELLINGHAM - With T-minus two minutes to the zombie apocalypse, a large group of the undead, dripping with blood and sporting open wounds, limped and groaned in a frosty field, ready to run, walk and roll their way toward any tasty humans who may have been on the trails near Bloedel Donovan park.
For those about to jump down into a bunker with some canned food, there's no need to panic (yet): the 100 or so zombies creeping around Bellingham on Saturday morning, Feb. 8, were merely humans dressed in tattered clothing and ghoulish makeup for the first annual Zombies Have Hearts, Too fun run.
The 5K was hosted by Max Higbee Center, a Bellingham nonprofit that provides recreation and programming for teens and adults with developmental disabilities. Several local sponsors provided prizes and support, including Kulshan Brewery, which hosted the post-run celebration.
"We really wanted to do something silly and fun," said Jenny Martin, Max Higbee event planner. "We thought Valentine's Day would be a good time - what's more fun than zombie love?"
The run was both a good way to provide some physical activity for Max Higbee clients and community members and a way to help spread the word about the organization, Martin said.
Inside the community center at the park, participants registered and picked up their swag, like zombie pet rocks that were hand-painted by Max Higbee clients. Those willing to pay a few extra dollars for a professional zombie transformation from Bellingham's Toni & Guy hairdressing academy went to see students like "blood specialist" Mary Miller, who helped apply corn syrup-based blood while other students created pale bruises and realistic gashes.
Though organizers first expected only about 50 people to register, about 300 people had signed up by race day, Martin said.
The starting line was peppered with a variety of zombie manifestations ready to take off in two different waves. Sedro-Woolley's Tena Brown and Kendall Stafford donned T-shirts and green tutus, which contrasted with the fake blood dripping from their faces. Micah and Sarah Ristow drove more than four hours from the small town of Raymond, west of Centralia, to run in red-and-white striped shirts as zombie versions of the children's book character Waldo for their first 5K.
With temperatures below freezing Saturday morning, some of the zombies didn't need to pretend their joints were slower than normal.
"We might look like zombies even more because we're shivering," Sarah Ristow said.
While the first wave waited for the beginning of the end of the world, Martin helped the group of walkers practice being courteous zombies, calling out "On your left," and encouraging participants to practice their best stumble to the right.
Just before 10 a.m., the second wave of the apocalypse, Martin asked the runners what they should say if someone got in their way on the trail. The group replied, in true zombie fashion, with a collective groan.
More information about the Max Higbee Center can be found at the nonprofit's website at maxhigbee.org.
Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.