There’s a new craze in the world of adventure sports and it involves running with real bulls. While certainly not new to those familiar with the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain, this is the first time this centuries-old sport has come to the United States as part of a nationwide event series.
Launched in April of 2013, The Great Bull Run LLC has announced an initial 10-city schedule that includes a stop at Maple Grove Raceway in June of 2014. The festival will feature multiple runnings of the bulls throughout the day followed by Tomato Royale, a large tomato food fight open to the public. For those who prefer watching rather than participating, spectator areas will be set up along The Great Bull Run track and around the Tomato Royale arena and will include live music, festival games, food and beverages.
Prior to the event at Maple Grove Raceway, The Great Bull Run will have made stops in Atlanta, Houston, Tampa and Los Angeles. Each of the host venues has the capacity to accommodate 20,000 people in a weekend and the festival organizers expect to easily reach those numbers in their first year. “There are a lot of options for people to get off their couches and get active these days, but nothing can match the thrill and excitement of sprinting alongside 1,000-pound bulls,” said Rob Dickens, co-founder of The Great Bull Run. “That’s why the running of the bulls in Spain draws hundreds of thousands of thrill-seekers from around the world each year; there’s simply nothing like it.”
There are obvious risks associated with running with live bulls, but it’s not as dangerous as it first seems. In fact, there have been only 15 deaths in the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain in the past 103 years. By comparison, there have been over 40,000 motorcycling deaths in the United States in the past decade alone according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Board.
“The runners are ultimately responsible for dodging the bulls when they come through, but we’ve taken additional measures to decrease the risk of injury and make this event accessible to everyone, not just the craziest thrill seekers out there,” said Mr. Dickens. “The track fencing allows runners to climb over to avoid bulls and there are several nooks in the fence where runners can hide, but the most important thing is that the bulls we’re using aren’t the aggressive fighting bulls used in Spain; they’ll simply run the track without seeking to attack people along the way.”
Another key difference between the American and Spanish versions of running with the bulls is that unlike in Spain, the bulls won’t be killed in a bullfight after the festival. Instead, their health and safety is closely monitored at all times by veterinarians specializing in large animals. “Growing up on a horse farm instilled in me an immense love and respect for all animals,” said Mr. Dickens, “so we take our bulls’ health very seriously.”
The Northeast Great Bull Run will be held on June 7, 2014 at Maple Grove Raceway, an NHRA drag strip in Mohnton, PA.
Ticket prices increase over time, starting at $35 for runners, $25 for Tomato Royale participants and $10 for spectators. The festival is open to all ages. Runners must be 18 years or older with a valid government identification while Tomato Royale participants must be 14 or older.
With its slogan, “Grab Life By The Horns,” The Great Bull Run is certain to attract thrill-seekers from around the country.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.thegreatbullrun.com or visit The Great Bull Run on Facebook.