For some people, nothing could make a weekend more complete than having a herd of bulls stampeding after them.
It’s been a way of life in Pamplona, Spain, for more than a century. And now that experience is coming to Dade City for The Great Bull Run on March 8.
It takes place at Little Everglades Ranch, 17951 Hamilton Road, just off U.S. 301.
The 10-city tour began last August in Virginia with more than 12,000 attendees, and organizer Rob Dickens hopes to make it an annual event here locally. Oh, and by the way, it is dangerous.
“That’s what draws people, the danger,” Dickens said. “If it was as safe as a walk in the park, there would be no reason to do it.”
Dickens said the idea to do a bull run in America came a couple years ago when he and his business partner tried to make the trip to Pamplona to take part in the famous bull run there. But it was impossible to attend — the average cost is around $3,000 a person to make the trip, giving up 10 days of work, all planned at least a year in advance. And that’s if they didn’t get injured.
“That’s when we realized, why don’t we just bring it here to the U.S.,” Dickens said. “There must be millions of other Americans like us who want to do this, but probably can’t afford all that.”
The Great Bull Run is a kinder, gentler version of the Spanish one. There are more safety precautions for both the runners and the bulls. There is track fencing runners can easily climb over and slide under if they get into danger, as well as nooks in the fence they can hide. Also, the bulls — which are brought in by a touring rodeo company — don’t have sharpened horns. That means less chance of goring.
The bulls are constantly monitored for their health and safety, and unlike in Pamplona, none of them are heading to the bullfighting ring afterward.
Yet, there are still dangers involved. Since the current tour started, two people have been injured, Dickens said. One had a broken wrist, the other a broken pelvis. However, the injury rate remains much lower than an average high school football game.
Even in Spain, there have been 15 deaths with the bull running, but that’s over a span of 102 years.
Still, the bull run is not just for the adventure seekers. Spectators also are welcome — at a much lower cost — and will be close enough to see the action, but far enough to stay safe.
It’s part of an all-day event that includes music, food, games and beer. The afternoon will feature the Tomato Royale, another Spanish tradition, where 30,000 pounds of tomatoes are trucked in for the sole purpose of participants throwing them at each other.
Tickets to run with the bulls are $65, with six total runs available throughout the late morning and mid-afternoon. For those who would rather throw tomatoes with no bull, the cost is $40.
Just want to watch? Tickets are $10 at the gate, with an additional fee for parking.
“We were looking for major metropolitan areas where we thought people would be interested in something like this, and we found a great venue just between Tampa and Orlando,” Dickens said.
“I’ve run with the bulls several times now at our own events, and the first time you do it, you’re absolutely scared out of your mind,” he said. “But the more you do it, the more you get comfortable with it. But it does take a certain type of person to do it in the first place.”
For more information, visit TheGreatBullRun.com.
Published March 5, 2014
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