Running with the bulls comes to the U.S.
Trading in Spain's cobblestone streets for drag-race strips and horse tracks, the running of the bulls gets an American makeover.
Mon, Aug 05, 2013 at 02:48 PM
We have rock walls to indulge our mountaineer fantasies, obstacle races to make us feel like navy SEALs, and zombie runs that put us in the middle of the apocalypse.
Next up? We’ll be able to celebrate our inner Hemingways by running with bulls in locations across the country.
The Associated Press is reporting on a new series of events, organized by The Great Bull Run, in which participants will race through fenced-in courses with running bulls. Set to debut later this month at a drag-racing strip near Richmond, Va., subsequent runs are planned for Georgia, Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Inspired by the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” the American version promises to be a bit tamer. In Spain, participants frequently suffer injuries; as do the bulls, which after a harrowing run through narrow cobblestone streets are subjected to a dismal fate in the bullfighting ring.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says of the event in Pamplona: “We much prefer the version of the run cooked up by roller derby groups, in which roller girls wearing horned hats and wielding Nerf weaponry chase participants through the streets in a running of bullies.”
But the organizers behind The Great Bull Run here in the States stress their commitment to the “health and safety of the animals we work with.” All of their events will be held on grass or dirt to help prevent the bulls and runners from slipping during the run.
“Each bull runs the quarter-mile track no more than twice during the event to prevent any risk of overexertion. After the event, the bulls return to their free-range ranch where they relax in open fields,” notes the event’s website.
Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run, said the group is partnering with ranches that will supply the bulls, and veterinarians will monitor their health.
“We’re not using the Spanish fighting bulls that are bred to be very aggressive for the entertaining aspect of bullfighting,” he said.
Each of the U.S. runs are being planned as a day-long festival, with bands, games, food, beer and a tomato food fight modeled on La Tomatina, the crazy tomato-throwing party held annually in the Valencian town of Buñol.
Which brings to mind the question: Why would one want to endanger themself by running around with strong, spirited animals with sharp horns, and then throw tomatoes at each other?
Dr. Jonathan Becker, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, says that some people get a surge from routine behaviors, but others need more daring adventures to attain the same rush.
“To get that same sort of euphoric feeling that you feel at the end of a jog,” Becker said, “they may need to jog with bulls.”
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