Running till you drop at the Zombie Backyard Ultra

Published 11:37 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

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PELHAM –Runners prepared for a contest of sheer endurance on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Oak Mountain’s Zombie Backyard Ultra.

“It’s an ultra-marathon distance race that’s just over a 4-mile loop,” Race co-founder Trey Clark said. “And the format of the race is you have an hour to complete the loop. And then within the time frame you have left after you finish the loop, it’s your recovery time, then another loop starts and so on until one runner remains.”

While football fans might recognize Clark for being a coach at Thompson since 2018, Clark also founded the Zombie Trail Race series three years ago with his co-founder and cousin, Nicholas Doss. 

“I’ve been running now for probably about 10 years and we decided that we wanted to put on our own races about three years ago,” Clark said. “Our first one was a Halloween night race, and we really fell in love with it. It was a ton of fun.”

This year, Clark and Doss’s Zombie Trail Race series has seven confirmed races, five of which take place at Oak Mountain State Park. Clark attributed much of the race series’ success to Doss’s artistic talent.

“Nick and I founded this together and he is the creative force behind it all,” Clark said. “He does all of our promotional or artwork for races and merchandising. Without Nick, it would just really be a lame duck.”

The most recent race, the Zombie Backyard Ultra, started at 7 a.m.  Competitors ran a 4.167-mile loop, restarting every hour on the hour. Roughly 42 runners attended the event, a ten-person increase from last year.

“Because it’s a last-person standing event, you’re not gonna get a big turnout because the event’s open-ended, ” Clark said. “It could go on for days, depending on when that last runner finishes.”

One by one, runners self-eliminated until only one remained at 5 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, ultimately being won by a man named Darryl Cordeiro.

“The guy that he beat is a local Birmingham Ultra runner that’s done a lot of different races and is good in this style,” Clark said. “Cordeiro almost went 90 miles.”

The next race to be put on by the Zombie Trail Race series, Halloween Havoc, will be on Saturday, Oct. 28, starting at 5 p.m. Halloween Havoc will also include a costume contest.

“We take a lot of pride in putting on a really fun event,” Clark said. “Everyone is welcome, accepted and celebrated. Bringing people together over our shared love of being in the woods and on trails is an amazing thing.“