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Zombie theory often implicates radiation as the cause of the zombie virus.

It is merely a coincidence, however, that Seattle’s Zombie Run is at Magnuson Park, which received media attention this spring for traces of radiation.

As the run’s website puts it, the premise of the 5K — which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday — is “Zombies run after humans. Humans run from zombies. Everybody goes to the after-party.”

More specifically, humans run with three balloons around their waists, which zombies try to pop.

Created in Philadelphia last summer by college juniors and childhood friends Andrew Hudis and Dave Feinman, the run has since spread to 16 cities. Saturday is the first Seattle run.

When Hudis ran the race in Philadelphia, zombies popped all three of his balloons within the first 2 kilometers.

“Of course I was so smug about it, I was like, ‘I know where all the zombies are going to be hiding,’ ” and I totally underestimated my own challenge,” Hudis said.

Feinman met a similar fate when he ran in Atlanta. Only about 20 percent of runners survive each race.

While Feinman and Hudis have been running together since seventh grade, about half of Zombie Run participants have never competitively run before, Hudis said.

Medical staff, security guards and off-duty police officers are present at every event, and Hudis reported a 0.1 percent injury rate.

A portion of the registration fees, which vary from $25-$50 depending on human or zombie status, teams and how early participants register, goes to Active Heroes, a nonprofit that helps veterans and active-duty military personnel with financial support and community integration.

The course is similar in each city, although Hudis and Feinman incorporate each venue’s unique characteristics, such as Magnuson Park’s airline hangars. The Zombie Run isn’t the first race Feinman and Hudis have created together: they attended the same high school and staged Halloween-themed fun runs. Zombies were the next logical step.

Zombie-themed runs are nothing new, but most are different enough they don’t encounter any creative conflicts, Hudis said. However, the duo did travel to Pittsburgh on Aug. 1 to make a “peace treaty” with creators of a different zombie race, and had fun running in theirs.

For many people, certain elements to the zombie theme hit close to home. Hudis has done much research on zombie fanaticism, and his thoughts about its popularity still waver. One aspect, he noted, is that in zombie media, when the zombie virus hits, there is not usually an apparent cure.

“A lot of the zombie invasion is about coping,” Hudis said. “I think for a lot of people right now, the idea of just dealing with the issues you’ve got really resonates.”

Of course, that’s not why their run is zombiefied.

“We just like zombies,” Hudis admitted.

Hannah Leone: 206-464-2299 or hleone@seattletimes.com.