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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.