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Connellsville Running Dead event a success

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 8:16 p.m.
What is the perfect escort for a zombie run? An old hearse, of course, as runners prepared to hit the streets of Connellsville for the Running Dead event.
What is the perfect escort for a zombie run? An old hearse, of course, as runners prepared to hit the streets of Connellsville for the Running Dead event.

Participants from all over the area and even parts of Ohio and West Virginia ventured to Connellsville last weekend to take part in what will be a new Halloween event as the Running Dead zombie event debuted featuring hundreds of participants.

“Something like this gives adults a chance to be kid again,” said Andrew Toth of Pittsburgh. “This is great.”

Toth and others had no issues traveling to the event, as zombie runs and related events are not yet common in this area.

“We do the one in Pittsburgh, and this is the first other one in the area, so we came,” Toth said.

Event organizers Mark Hofmann and Jeff Monahan had planned for about 150 participants to take place in the run that involved runners who made their way through the city on a 2.65-mile route, and zombies who were stationed throughout the area whose job it was to try to steal the flags from the waistbands of the runners. About 275 people participated in the event.

“We really didn't expect this kind of turnout since this was the first time,” Hofmann said. “We were actually really surprised when people showed up early for registration and just kept coming.”

And except for a few glitches, the event was deemed a success.

“It went fabulously,” Monahan said. “We had a much larger turnout than expected, and it just flowed really smoothly.”

Vendors were also on location at the run, selling zombie-related items, and a few nonprofits also took part in the event.

Partial proceeds from the run will be donated to the Connellsville Patriot Club and the remainder of the money will be held in account for next year's event.

“I want to do some things a little different,” Hofmann said. “We will look at the route again and fix what didn't work this year. We plan to take what didn't work and change it to make it even better.”

The event had plenty of support from Patriot Club volunteers, the Connellsville Police Department and numerous others who took time to help to organize the run.

“We've been working with Mark (Hofmann) for months,” said Kathi Provance of Connellsville. “I made the brains for the brain-eating contest. We've been working on that for a while, and we have been helping him get this together.”

Runners from West Virginia who joined in the event said that although they have participated in other running events, they never had to run from zombies before.

“We thought this sounded like a lot of fun and something fun to do,” said Leah Casto of Morgantown, W.Va., adding that they heard about the event from some friends who were local.

In addition to the run, the city also was the site for Boo in East Park, scary movies at the Carnegie Library, a citywide scavenger hunt and an evening ending with the showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Edwin Porter Theater in the Connellville Community Center.

“Everyone I talked to said they had a great time and will be coming back next year,” Monahan said. “Someone said to me, ‘Who would have thought it would take the dead to bring life back into Connellsville.' ”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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