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"Running of the bulls" tradition coming to PA next summer

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 11, 2013 11:15 PM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

A domestic version of the "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, Spain, is slated to take place at a Berks County raceway next June.

The Great Bull Run is the company staging runs across the country beginning this month. Its website avers the event "can be summed up in four simple words: Running. With. Real. Bulls."

Would-be daredevils visiting the site are both encouraged and warned: "we've added significantly more safety precautions for The Great Bull Run to further reduce that risk (but you could still die)."

"That's the draw of the event," said Rob Dickens, the company's chief operating officer. "There's no famous event called 'walking down the sidewalk.'"

Unlike in Pamplona, where the bulls' horns are sharpened, the bulls in the domestic races will have horns that are blunt. The animals, it so happens, run not because they are provoked, but because they are trained. Dickens laughed at the idea the animals' practiced response diminishes the adrenaline rush for runners.

"Believe me," he said, "when you get in the track with these massive bulls bearing down on you, there's no thought in your mind at all, 'this is a little bit too tame for me, I wish it was more dangerous.'"

Participants are required to accept the risk being trampled, gored, rammed, or tripped. The animals, of course, don't sign a waiver. Nancy Botella, an agent with the Large Animal Protection Society, voiced concern for their mental and physical wellbeing.

"There's going to be some people, some of these daring participants that are going to be taunting the bulls, probably poking at them, pulling their tails, things like that, which would be very difficult for people that are putting it on to stop," she said. "And I just think it says something about our society that people are willing to pay and are entertained by taunting and frightening animals."

One of the event rules prohibits runners' mistreatment of the bulls. Dickens said his event also has to satisfy federal and state livestock regulations, which he said is being handled by a rodeo company supplying the bulls.

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