Tillsonburg Zombie Adventure provides thrills, chills and spills

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Gravel crunches underfoot as solitary female zombie wanders into the middle of the path.

Dallas, Riley and Alexis slow down, consider their options.

"It's coming toward us," says Riley.

It's not their first zombie. The Kitchener family survived Hawkins Bridge, the walking bridge over Lake Lisgar, where four zombies were stationed on the west side - all tethered - and one on the east side. They know there are at least a dozen more zombie encounters for them Saturday's 2nd annual Tillsonburg Zombie Adventure, hosted by the Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club.

But this one is different. This one is not tethered.

It's hungry, and it's coming.

Unknown to the trio another two more zombies are hidden not too far ahead, just off the path - an unfortunate ambush waiting to happen.

"She's cheating," says Riley.

The zombie veers to the left side of the path, crouching down, leaving a gap wide for Dallas and his daughter, Alexis, to run past.

The zombie turns, but is focused on Riley, who is trapped. Dallas, safely past, turns back to provide a distraction. Alexis waits to see if her brother can make it.

The distraction works - the zombie spins and chases both Dallas and Alexis, who caught by surprise turns and flees north. Her shoe falls off, and the 'game' is paused as she recovers from a sore foot.

A third zombie arrives on the scene, this one in full nun's garb.

But three survivors arrive from the north, and the first zombie roars 'get out', leaping into action.

"I'm not sure zombies can talk," laughs one of the survivors as he takes evasive action.

The distraction allows Alexis, Riley and Dallas time to sprint ahead.

"See, look how much fun it is," says Dallas.

"I don't like it, they creep me out," says Alexis.

It only takes them to the next set of zombies, 50m up the path. Three teens and a white-haired giant, all tethered, all in close proximity.

"C'mon Alexis this is all just for fun," Dallas smiles.

"Nooo," Alexis replies.

The zombies glare, snarling in anticipation. The first, crouching low to the ground, is wrapped in red ribbons. She wears dozens of 'lives' collected in the first hour of the Zombie Adventure, and wants more.

Alexis, who earlier Saturday had expected to swim in the Lake Lisgar Water Park, agrees to continue.

There isn't much room to squeeze through. Zombies stand on both sides of the path. Suddenly a lone runner tries to cut past from the north - but loses his last ribbon. Dallas, Riley and Alexis bide their time, seeing more 'survivors' on the way - a mother with a baby and stroller, a man and woman without ribbons - just out for a casual Saturday stroll - and a scooter.

"How did you make it through with that?" Dallas laughs.

He decides to run for it, dodging and weaving past four zombies. No lives lost.

"Nice running," says the tallest zombie, handing Dallas sunglasses that fell out of a pocket.

Alexis, arms raised high in protection, safely zips through.

But Riley is stuck. Again.

"You should have went with me buddy, I said power in numbers," says Dallas.

"I didn't hear you," Riley laughs. "You just ran."

"Oh my gosh," says the first zombie, who trailed them. "My makeup is falling off in chunks."

Riley tries to dash up the right side of the path, but loses one of his three lives.

"How many lives did they get?" he asks.

"They got a bunch," says Dallas.

Screaming can be heard further north.

Having survived zombies suspended from bridges, slow rambling zombies, quick bouncy zombies and awkward gait zombies - and even a sprinting clown - they make it to a zombie free zone where they can purchase refreshments, more lives and catch their wind before turning south to run the zombie gauntlet back to Memorial Park.

An hour after they starting at the Memorial Park sundial, they are back at the Hawkins Bridge with fewer ribbons, and more caution. Squeezing around the last zombies, Dallas finishes the Adventure with two ribbons, Riley with two ribbons (thanks to buying two ribbons mid-course) and Alexis one ribbon, although that 'miraculous life' ribbon had been securely hidden away on the return trip.

Dallas and Riley both earned 'survivor' certificates, while Alexis, who freely admitted to 'a little bit' of cheating was awarded both survivor certificate and 'infected' certificate.

Although they didn't get their family swim, the laughs on the trail - and the adrenaline rush of being chased by zombies - made it worth the trip to Tillsonburg.



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