Pamplona-style bull running is coming to America

SPAIN-SAN-FERMIN-ENCIERRO_PA14855-1024x732

Far from the narrow cobblestoned streets of the Spanish city of Pamplona, Americans will soon be running with the bulls at a Virginia drag-racing strip.

The Great Bull Run on Aug. 24 at Virginia Motor Sports Park is an American adaptation of Pamplona’s San Fermin running of the bulls, made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”

In the U.S. version, participants will have to buy insurance before braving the horns and hooves of bulls chasing them down a quarter-mile strip of asphalt set in farmland south of Richmond.

The bulls, weighing in at 1,000 pounds, can hit speeds of more than 20 miles per hour.

The appeal? Pure adrenaline, says Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run.

“Why do humans want to do anything dangerous?” he asked. “It’s the thrill of it. It’s knowing that you’re doing something dangerous. That’s why there are no events called ‘Walking Down the Sidewalk.’”

Over the past 100 years, 14 people have died in Pamplona’s San Fermin festival, which dates to the 13th century and draws visitors from around the world for a week of partying and bullfights. At the last event, in July, dozens of people were trampled and several were gored, including one American tourist who had to have his spleen removed.

About 5,000 people have paid up to $50 to enter the Richmond event, which organizers said will launch a 10-city U.S. tour over the next year, including Atlanta, Houston and Dallas.

Participants must buy mandatory insurance and sign a waiver generally absolving The Great Bull Run LLC, the Boston-based company staging the event, and others of any liability if they are injured.

“This is not a petting zoo,” Dickens says. “The bulls will not stop and lick your hand — they’ll run over you if you don’t get out of the way.”

Dickens said every precaution was being taken for safety.

For example, if the bulls seem to be overtaking them, runners can duck into a safety area or jump one of the fences. Medical staff also will be on hand. There will be no sharpened horns, which Dickens said was often the case elsewhere. Runners are barred from taunting or harassing the bulls to make them more aggressive.

The bulls will be crossbred from a Kentucky farm, not Spanish fighting bulls. In Spain, the running bulls are killed in a bullfight, but the U.S. animals will be spared.

Still, The Great Bull Run has drawn the ire of animal-rights groups, who condemn it as exploitation of animals for the sake of entertainment.

“In this American version, the bulls will be subjected to loud noise and crowds of panicked people. A pastime that involves scaring and taunting animals is as unsafe as it is un-American,” says Ashley Byrne, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Humane Society of the United States has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine whether the companies running the events were properly licensed. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the group last week the department was examining the issue, according to a copy of the letter provided by the Humane Society.

The USDA did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Dickens, who identified himself as a former Wall Street lawyer, said the legal aspects of the bull runs were in order.

According to the Humane Society, U.S. bull-running events have been held occasionally since 1997, with the last one in 2012.

Gerald Stokka, an associate professor of livestock stewardship at North Dakota State University, said the running was unlikely to harm the bulls, who will be leaner and smaller than standard dairy animals.

“Maybe the bulls will have a great time, actually,” he says.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD: Suspect dead after two U.S. Marshals, cop…

A suspected sex offender died during a shootout inside a West Village smoke shop that left two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective wounded, officials said.

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.