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Race Info

Saturday, October 24 or 31, 2015
Ah-Nab-Awen Park, downtown Grand Rapids
6:30-7:15 pm waves


Run a five kilometer course within the quarantine area. Conquer the infamous Apocalypse Avenue with its abandoned cars and Kill Hill. Dodge zombies looking for “fast food.” Race against darkness and survive the Zombie apocalypse.

You’ll be given three “life strips” – flag football flags – to tuck in your shorts or pants, if you want them. (If you’re a bit freaked out by this format, just run without them and the zombies won’t reach for you.). For each one you keep safe until you exit the quarantine area, you’ll have one minute subtracted from your time. No worries if you lose the three strips; you are not disqualified. Just keep running and enjoy the experience of running the most unique night race ever held.

Kids 10 and under can run FREE with their parents (requirements: do not register them, non-timed, no shirt; sign waiver and pick up special bib at registration). Kids 10 and under that want an official time and shirt must pay the full entry fee.

WARNING: The course involves streets with potholes, a short but pitch-black trail, scrambling up the largest hill in Grand Rapids, going down a steep stairs with a center handrail but some missing outside rails, stepping over curbs, and navigating the Riverwalk’s occasional stairs and narrow spots. It may or may not be dark when you run and lighting is not bright in most areas. Do NOT register for this race if you are not prepared for these conditions.

There weren’t many complaints last year, but here’s how we are addressing the four that got mentioned a few times in the post-race survey:

  • Three life strips instead of two to give you a better chance of survival!
  • DJ with high-octane sound system for pre-race communication and music
  • Smaller first wave/heat (speaker was turned the wrong way so the wave got huge!)
  • We’re focused on making sure walkers stay single file and zombies stay spread out in areas prone to bottlenecking

Entry fees shown below do not include fees charged by EventBrite for registration and credit card fees. Those fees ($3.47 for runners) are added to our entry fee and shown on the Registration page. Refund options are listed below the registration section.

  • Regular Registration (thru 10/19): $45, including long-sleeve tech shirt
  • Late Registration (10/20-10/22): $45, does not include shirt
  • Kid runners 10 and under: free with parent entry (do not register your child)
  • Zombies: free, but must register
  • Zombies with shirt: $15

Zombies stay out on the course for all waves. Zombies do not run the course; they wait for runners along the way, scaring them and grabbing their life strips but at a realistically slow pace. Any zombies who are over-aggressive, knock down runners, or make the experience miserable for any reason will be eaten. Seriously, we reserve the right to yank you off the course or ban you from future races for obvious infractions. We will require you to wear a race number on your back so we can record jerk zombies and ban them from the next race. More on this under the Rules page.

Zombies will be required to wear race numbers on their backs so we can capture contact information for those zombies ruining a fun experience for runners and ban them from the next race until they change their unruly ways!

Can runners dress as zombies? That would be really confusing and might result in cannibalism. The zombies have expressed offense to anyone thinking they would intentionally eat one of their own. Please pick one role or the other. Zombies eat, runners run. No one eats and runs.

Zombies participate for free but you must register online via credit card. We may cap the number of zombies, likely at 350.

This is the Zombie Dash, not the Zombie Walk. However, walkers will be allowed ONLY if they walk single-file on the Riverwalk, trails, and sidewalks. Based on numerous complaints last year, walkers can be removed from the course if they block runners or have their race number written down and not allowed to walk next year. Please be considerate of those runners who want to dash. If we have several complaints, we will ban walkers next year. The reason there is no walking wave at the end of the race is we would have to keep the course open longer which would incur over $1,000 in additional City of Grand Rapids/GRPD staff costs.

We will leave it up to the parent(s)’ discretion whether to have their kids run with life strips; just be aware that the chance of a collision with a zombie is much greater with the strips than without. All runners 13 years and younger must run with a parent or guardian. We recommend that runners 14-17 be in a group but it is again at the parents’ discretion. We will have volunteers and police on the course but we can’t cover the entire 5K.

Zombies should be at least 14 years old to grab life strips from runners or of a stature that would handle a collision with a runner coming by at full speed. Zombies younger than 14 must be with their parents in the “no feed” zones located at the beginning and end of the race (north zones). Zombies 14-17 should be with a parent or guardian or in a group per parent approval.

The goal is to minimize the risk of collisions between adults and young kids. Safety is really important, especially with a race at night. If you have a child who is near 14 and can definitely handle a collision, you may ask for an exception. Email Mark VanTongeren, the race director.

A parent or guardian must sign the waiver for anyone under 18, runner or zombie.

Zombie Dash WomenZombie Dash Men

Your children may NOT be left unattended at the start/finish or anywhere on the course while you run.

All runners (and zombies who pay $15) who have registered by the Sunday before the race receive this long-sleeved tech shirt (men’s/adult crew or women’s v-neck) at check-in. Some people find that the sizes run a bit large so if you are between sizes, you may want to try the smaller size. You can swap shirts once same-day check in ends at 7:00 pm.

MERCHANDISE zombie dash magnet low res
Zombie Zombie Dash mock-up low resDash 16 oz. stainless steel mugs will be available for purchase at check-in for $10. Magnets (bumper-strength) are $4. We believe these prices are lower than almost all other races.

Although this is purely for fun, we will have prizes for fastest finishers and raffle winners (including Gazelle Sports gift cards, Walking Dead DVDs, etc.).

The race will be professionally chip-timed by Epic Race Timing. Your time starts when you cross the start and finish line mats. Please avoid the mats before the race.

We will give 15-20% of our profits (depending on number of volunteers) to Michigan Blood and the Michigan Blood Stem Cell Programs. Proceeds will allow runners and zombies to register for the Be the Match national marrow donor program at no charge. This is normally a $104 test. For more details on the cause and how you can support it, see below.


Sunday, October 19

Regular registration with shirt ends

Midnight. You can still sign up Oct. 20-23, but a shirt is not included. If available after the race, you may purchase one for $15.

Thursday, October 23

Late registration closes

12:00 noon (registration is online only)

Friday, October 24

Early bib/shirt pick-up/free Michigan Blood Be The Match registry event

1:00 pm-7:00 pm. Gazelle Sports, 3930 28th ST, Grand Rapids. Yes, please pick up bibs and shirts for friends if you have their waiver!

Saturday, October 25
(All RUNNER activities below are at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 220 Front ST, NW, downtown GR; no same-day registration. Zombie check-in is at Sixth Street Bridge Park, 759 Monroe Ave NW.

Same-day bib/shirt pickup

5:00-6:45 pm; arrive 45 minutes before your wave start

Zombie check-in

5:15 pm. Map with feed zones to be provided via email.

Zombies get brief training and head to feeding zones

6:00 pm. Map with feed zones to be provided via email.

Race start

6:30-7:15 pm. Time is based on the chip attached to your bib so we will send you out at a steady pace. You can start in other waves if you are early or late. Sunset is at 6:40 pm. Darkness is likely to fall just after 7:00 pm.


Race cutoff

8:00 pm course cleared (please choose an early wave to avoid course clearing time if necessary)

Award ceremony, raffle

First items raffled around 8:00 pm. Some items to be raffled later in the evening.

Because of the people-power needed to process the time bonuses, finish times and places may not be known until Sunday but we hope to have first wave times by 9:00 pm.


Ah-Nab-Awen Park is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. The best address for an online map tool is 220 Front Ave NW, 49504, although it’s not actually on Front Ave and the section of Front Ave shown on the map is now blocked off.parking website Oct16

The park is regarded as one of the most beautiful spots in the city with the Grand River, DeVos Place and high-rise hotels one side and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on its other side.

The closest free parking lots (map) are the Scribner Lot under US-131 or the Dash West Area 7 Lot just west of US-131 off Mt. Vernon. Both are just a short walk west of the park. From the Dash lot, note that you will need go north to Bridge or south to Pearl to get to the park. Also, all metered parking downtown is free Saturday evening except for Monroe Center and a few spots along Ottawa northwest of Fulton.

View Larger Map
(Google Maps)

Please consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry at the Michigan Blood Be The Match registry event on Friday from 1 pm to 7 pm or on Saturday before the race. It’s FREE to racers (normally $104), paid for by proceeds from the race. Go to for details. You may also request a kit to be sent to you. You can save a life!

We will send you your race number the day before early check-in begins on Friday. Please have that and your waiver with you at check-in. No need to provide proof of registration as long as you find yourself on the race number list.

You can be a good friend and pick up race stuff for your friends, but only if they give you their signed waiver ahead of time; this keeps lines short on Saturday evening. Please bring a bag to carry items if you are picking up for several others.

Arrive at least 45 minutes before your wave time if you check in on Saturday. Get your shirt, “bib” number (with disposable chip on back), and safety pins. Attach your number on the front of your shirt/jacket. Your bib must be visible at the start and finish. If it’s covered with clothing, you may not receive a chip time. Do NOT fold your bib or tuck it away.

Here’s a layout of the start/finish area. Portajohns and bathrooms are located on the south side of the park.

Zombies will gather at 5:15 PM on the EAST side of the Grand River at Sixth Street Bridge Park, just south of Sixth ST/Newberry, west of Monroe. If you punch in 759 Monroe NW, that should do the trick. The majority of participants surveyed asked us to keep the zombie check-in separate from runner check-in.

If you are arriving with both runners and zombies, figure out how you will handle drop-offs and meeting up after the race. From Apocalypse Avenue, it is almost one mile to the finish line at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

Those who did not check in on Friday will get their bib number and shirt, if purchased. Zombies will get a briefing on safe behavior and guidance on where their assigned zone is located.

feed zones higher res

View Larger Map (Google Maps)

A headlamp or flashlight with fresh batteries is required for waves 2 and 3. Survivors should plan to race in running attire, or, if you want to get in on the costume thing, an outfit reflecting your role as survivor (e.g., the tattered look, military scout look, Shaun of the Dead outfit, superheroes, etc.). You must have clothing that allows you to tuck in the life strips of cloth you will receive that zombies are hungry for. You will not receive life strips if you are wearing a jacket or shirt that covers up more than six inches of the strip. For each strip you have at the end of the race, you will have one minute subtracted off your time.

You may bring equipment to complement your costume before and after the race, but due to safety, you are not allowed to run with any hard or sharp objects.

Zombies should, well, look like zombies. Please come to the race all zombie-fied. We will not have make-up on site for this race. Zombies may take a headlamp/flashlight to help you see where you are going to station yourself but the course has quite a few lights on it so this is likely not necessary.

Be sure to check in with the costume contest judges before the race to get scored for our costume contest. Survivors in costume are also eligible but the judging for survivors takes place back at Ah-Nab-Awen. Prizes will include Walking Dead DVDs and other zombie-related prizes. Zombie costume contest awards will be given out before the race. Survivor costume contest awards will likely be given out after the race. You must be present to win.

We will race rain or shine… or snow. In the event of a thunderstorm, tornado, or freak lake-effect blizzard, we will postpone the race until conditions improve. Stay in your car or under a shelter. We will not be able to reschedule on a different date due to over $7,000 in costs (police, road closure crew, permits, ambulance, etc.) we would have to pay again. We will do everything we can do get the race complete that evening. During the race, please seek shelter during these conditions. We will not have tents so please bring rain gear and umbrellas if necessary.

We would encourage you to invite friends and family to watch the race. We will post race maps so spectators know your route. There is no cost to spectate (unlike some national races that charge $20+. Sheesh.).

Walkers are allowed as long as you stay to the far edge of the path or road, for safety and to reduce the chance of backups where the course is narrow. On sidewalks, trails and the Riverwalk, walkers must always be single-file. Also, walkers must jog through the narrow dirt trail where backups happened last year. We recommend walkers go in the earliest wave if they wish to finish before the course is cleared. If walkers go in the last wave, they will not finish before the course closes. If we have problems again with this like we did last year, we will have no choice but to not allow walkers next year. Please, please be considerate of the runners coming up behind you.


See the Course page for details on your mission, feed zones, aid station, etc. The course is 3.1 miles in length, not counting all the dashing you’ll do from side to side! The aid station with water will be located at about the half-way mark, on top of the Belknap Hill.

See the Rules/Format page for details on what to wear, the life strips, what to do and not do, etc.

We will have medics on site. In an emergency while on the course, find a volunteer with a phone or call 911.


Join us for the post-race fruit, snacks and awards. We’ll pass out some prizes. This isn’t a serious trail race but we’ll still have a lot of prizes/gift certificates from Gazelle Sports and other sponsors and raffle prizes (e.g., zombie movies and books).

The charity partner for this race is Michigan Blood and the Michigan Blood Stem Cell Program, which educates the public about the importance of the Be The Match registry and marrow/stem cell donation. The stem cell program recruits potential marrow/stem cell donors for the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match registry. Michigan Blood is also a regional collection site for stem cell donations. 70% of patients suffering from illnesses like leukemia, lymphoma and 70 other blood related diseases, turn to the Be The Match registry for a matching marrow/stem cell donor. Every year around 10,000 patients look to the Be The Match registry for a donor.

Questions? Contact the Be The Match Program at 616-233-8555 or

  • The most terrifyingly fun night race in the world.

    Run five kilometers.
    Race against darkness.
    Try not to get eaten.

    The ultimate adrenaline rush.

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