Beach Road 5K morphs into zombie run


Participants of Run Saipan’s Beach Road 5K that quickly turned into a zombie run pose for a group after the event last Friday. (MARK RABAGO)

Lovel Spaeth and Leilani Ruszala were the top “survivors” and Enoch Zhuang was the top “zombie” during Run Saipan’s Beach Road 5K that quickly turned into a zombie run last Friday along Beach Road.

Spaeth and Ruszala led six survivors who evaded the zombies made up of Saipan’s fastest runners. Both successfully made it to the imaginary rescue helicopter with all their football flags intact. They were joined by Keoni Ruszala, Declan Spaeth, Adam Walsh, and Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Frank “The Crank” Camacho.

Leilani Ruszala said it was fun battling her friend Lovel Spaeth in the zombie run.

“It was very exciting and also very scary because I didn’t want my flag to be taken and everytime someone caught up with us I thought that person was a zombie.”

The Saipan International School student said having zombies may or may not have played a part in her being one of the top survivors.

“At the end it did because I was trying to keep up with Lolo (Lovel) and we were sprinting at the end and I think I haven’t sprinted as fast in a 5K like that…It was because of Lovel more than the zombies because it’s so hard to beat her.”

Ruszala also said running in the evening and during a rainshower was a different experience.  

“It was cool and refreshing running in the dark. The rain was really hard; it felt like people were hitting me with rocks… I feel good and I feel tired at the same time, [but] I have glory!” she said.

Zhuang, meanwhile, was the king of the zombie run with the 16-year-old Agape Christian School “infecting” 10 runners after capturing 10 flags. 

Marianas High School’s Pony Tang was runner-up with six infected with Daniel Li and David Chen tied for third after turning four runners into zombies each.

The rest of the zombie hoard consisted of Rex Pixley, Michael Mancao, Sildrey Veloria, Shigeki Tenorio, Simon Tang, Samuel Zhu, Jireh Wang, and David Zhao.

Zhuang said making the Beach Road 5K into a zombie run more than a week before Halloween was a nice twist.

“I love this type of run. It’s a very nice run. It makes me run faster. I have a goal to get flags and this run was very fun,” said the ninth grader.

Run Saipan president Edward Dela Cruz Jr. said the Beach Road 5K/zombie run exceeded all his expectations.

“Everyone had fun, especially Agape Christian School. They didn’t want to participate as zombies but they ended up coming out with the most wins and they commented it was so much fun. The intent was to have all human participants have that fear gripping their hearts that they are being chased in order to bring out faster 5K times which it did. [Oceania Athletics Association] president Robin Sapong even asked me if I placed people in the correct divisions because of how fast everyone was coming in.”

Dela Cruz also thanked all the runners who gladly took part in the zombie run, which was a last-minute and surprise announcement. 

“It was a good beta test. I’m very grateful to the runners who helped me that day and agreed to be participants for the test drive. I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude. It was optional for participants to put on the flag. The ones that did were team players, thank you to them.”

Aside from Sapong, the Run Saipan head also thanked Camacho for taking part in the zombie run and restrained himself from  rear-naked choking any of the pursuing zombies.

“Special shout out to Frank “The Crank” for participating not only in our 5K but part of the beta test! Also thank you to Marianas High School Physical Education Department. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have been able to do the zombie run at all. Thanks Dan Wollack and team!”

Results of the actual Beach Road 5K race will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Saipan Tribune.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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