Running of the Bulls Coming to Houston, Dallas, Other U.S. Cities

Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Ever thought about taking part in The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain? Don’t want to travel that far? Then how about the upcoming bull runs in Houston, Dallas and several other U.S. cities?

The Pamplona bull run goes back in time perhaps as far as the 1300s. It draws tens of thousands of people each year, some of whom run in front of a dozen or so bulls that are let loose on narrow city streets. The eight-day event always results in hundreds of people being injured, mostly by being trampled by other participants, and some by being gored by bulls.

Sound like fun? Then there’s good news for you. The bull runs are coming to America. Organizers have scheduled bull runs in several U.S. cities, beginning with Richmond, VA, on Aug. 24. More than 5,000 people have signed up so far for the Richmond run. Bull runs are planned for Houston on Dec. 7 and Dallas on April 5, with events also planned in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

The annual Pamplona run was held last month. Six participants were gored by bulls, including a 23-year-old Australian woman who was in “very grave” condition after being gored in the back, causing multiple rib fractures and damage to her right lung. Fifty people were carried away by ambulances. Records going back to 1910 indicate 15  people have been killed over the years.

The U.S. events hope to duplicate some of that pick your own word: [excitement] [insanity]. From the organizers’ website:

“Face the adrenaline rush of a lifetime as you’re pursued by 1,000-pound bulls stampeding down a quarter-mile course. Then celebrate with thousands of thrill-seekers in a massive, day-long festival that also features our insane tomato food fight, Tomato Royale!”

Will the U.S. events be as dangerous as the one in Pamplona? Organizers say yes and no. From the website:

“We do what we can to minimize risks by using less aggressive bulls than those used in Spain and allowing runners to hide in nooks and climb over the track fence if necessary.”

However, it also says:

“By participating in the run, you accept the risk that you might be trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull, or bumped, jostled, tripped or trampled by your fellow runners. … Make no mistake: you could get seriously injured in this event.”

Ready to sign up? After all, it’s not every day you get a chance to be “trampled, gored or rammed.” Cost to participate is $60, with discounts for registering early. Registration includes the privilege of running with (from?) the bulls, throwing tomatoes, plus a free T-shirt and bandana. Spectators pay $10.

Animal Cruelty?

Of course, activists against animal cruelty are speaking out against the events. The organizers respond:

“We [do not] abuse [the bulls] in anyway. We don’t hit them, shock them or deprive them of food, water, light or sleep. In fact, we have a veterinarian on site at all times to make sure the bulls are treated properly and are perfectly healthy before, during and after each run.”

It is unlikely opponents of bull-running will make much headway in this part of the country, where professional bull riding is popular, with Professional Bull Riders competitions planned in Tulsa and Thackerville later this month.

Who knows? Maybe the bulls enjoy the chance to chase after anyone crazy enough to run in front of them.