Zombie run raises money for rabies research

The annual run takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday

The+Student+American+Veterinary+Medical+Association+and+Rabies+Free+Africa+host+an+annual+5k.+

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The Student American Veterinary Medical Association and Rabies Free Africa host an annual 5k.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen reporter

The Student American Veterinary Medical Association will hold its eighth annual 5k Rabies Run on Saturday to help raise money for Rabies Free Africa.

Rabies Free Africa is a program that is part of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health said Christie Cotterill, director of development for the College of Veterinary Medicine. 

“A lot of people understand what rabies is on some level. Either they take their pet to get vaccinated or have seen Old Yeller,” Cotterill said. “It’s a really good program for us to help people understand the intersection of human and animal health.”

The run will start at 10 a.m. and check-in will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Bustad Hall, said Holly Hinnant, third-year veterinary student. 

From Bustad Hall, runners will run down Grimes Way and Terre View Drive, looping through the WSU Arboretum back to Terre View Drive and ending at Bustad Hall. She said she anticipates the run will last about 45 minutes.

There is a $20 registration fee to take part in the event, which goes directly towards Rabies Free Africa, Hinnant said. Those who are interested in participating in the event can email her at [email protected] to receive a registration form.

“We are still taking registration for people to just run it,” she said. “It’s been a really fun experience and I’m glad I sort of fell into it.”

The entry fee for the event goes to Rabies Free Africa, which they use to focus on research, Cotterill said. Some of what that entails is increasing the success of their vaccine programs and increasing vaccine availability.

Meg Knox, second-year veterinary student, said some of the most important aspects of the event are that it draws attention to veterinary medicine on a more global scale and shows there is still a long way to go to eliminate rabies.

Cotterill said the program officially started marketing and fundraising in 2015 after rebranding as Rabies Free Africa. The 5k Rabies Run began the same year. 

Rabies Free Africa sends a faculty or staff member to welcome the runners, but the event is primarily organized by SAVMA, Cotterill said. 

“I am inspired each year by the continuing dedication of students at SAVMA to keep this event ongoing,” she said. “They are trying to raise awareness and they find a fun way to do it.”

This year’s run is zombie-themed because of its proximity to Halloween, Knox said. In previous years, organizers selected an “Office” theme and a virtual theme in 2020 during the pandemic. 

“One thing we want to do is make the race fun in some way,” she said. “We thought it would be kind of fun to have an element to it besides just people running.”

Knox said the new element added to the race with the zombie theme is that besides just racers, there are participants dressed as zombies too. At the one-mile mark, the runners will play capture the flag against the zombies.

During last year’s run, there were about 60-70 participants, Hinnant said. In comparison, this year there has been a large increase to about 115 and counting.

Hinnant said she thinks many people are interested in this year’s zombie theme. Knox believes more families and returning runners might account for the increase. 

“It’s definitely been a concern for me since it’s doubled in size,” she said. “It’s definitely a challenge, just making sure the police are sure that it’s happening.”

To keep the event safe with the increase in participants, Hinnant said she has been in contact with the police to make sure the route is safe and there is no concern with extra traffic.

Hinnant said this is her second year working on the event and first year leading it. Organizing the event is a two-year position, where during the second year an undergraduate will study from the person in charge. 

Knox is currently involved with organizing the event as well and is next in line to lead the event in 2023.

“It’s been kind of fun working with Holly and deciding how we can expand the event,” she said. “One thing that I feel like I’m considering doing next year is getting a little bit more equipment that would allow us to have a more official race.”