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Brave runners survive the siege at inaugural Attack the Castle road race
Combination race and obstacle course draws crowd to Riverside for fun, fitness
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Nina Sutherland and Ridge Jordan run the 10K portion of the Attack the Castle road race Saturday at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville. Participants were able to run either the 5K or the 10K at the event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

You are running through a paved square.

All around you, the path is shrouded by smoke, and the sounds of gunfire and explosions keep your heart racing faster and faster.

Run down this hill, climb up that wall, the rifle in your hand feels like lead and the obstacles in your path begin to blur together. You are exhausted and you want to rest, but you know that if you do the advancing pack will overtake you, and that isn’t an option.

As soon as your body screams that you can run no more, you hear off in the distance, the sound of a crowd cheering, and you know that you survived the siege at Riverside Military Academy.

On Saturday, the Riverside Military Academy held its first ever Attack the Castle 5K/10K obstacle race that challenged racers to fight their way through the campus over obstacles and past castle defences.

Racers had the option of running 5- or 10-kilometer courses, and could chose to tackle a series of wooded obstacles, attack, or surrender by avoiding the obstacles altogether and run for time and distance only.

All racers were challenged to complete the race carrying a “rubber ducky,” a weighted imitation assault rifle, adding another layer of difficulty to the race.

Before the race, organizer James Corbin predicted that with music, thousands of dollars of donated fireworks, smoke grenades, and a trebuchet built by seventh-graders wildly firing water balloons, the event would likely be controlled chaos.

But after the event, Corbin seemed pleased with the outcome.

“It went well,” he said. “Everyone stayed on the path and seemed to think it was well-marked.”

Corbin seemed confident that this would be the start of the new tradition, saying he already has plans to step up the event next year by making it more inclusive of the city of Gainesville.

“Riverside really needs and believes in our community,” Corbin said, “ “It’s not just our family spread across 29 countries and 30 states, but it’s also our hometown, Gainesville, where we have been for the last 108 years.”

Washington Redskins player DeAngelo Hall was guest of honor at the event. His son started at Riverside this year, and before the event Hall, a former Atlanta Falcon, spoke to the crowd about why his family chose the school.

“We found out about this place a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until the middle of this school year that we decided to send our son here,” Hall said, “We thought it was going to be something like military straight boot camp, but just the environment, the atmosphere, the education that he is getting, it’s just amazing.”

After the event, racers had an opportunity to take photos with Hall, and were given chicken biscuits donated by Gainesville’s Chick-fil-A.

For more information about Riverside and its events, visit