If you've ever wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona, but missed out because you couldn't get cast on Road Rules: Europe, your chance may be coming up next Summer. A group called The Great Bull Run is bringing the experience to ten locations across the country including a stop in the San Francisco Bay Area in June 2014.
Much like the real contest popularized by the aforementioned MTV reality show (and, sure, The Sun Also Rises), the traveling American version involves a fenced-in track, a group of foolhardy runners and herd of somewhat pissed off bulls. Unlike the Spanish tradition, however, participants in the Great Bull Run will need to sign a waiver and pay an insurance fee to register. This is America, after all, things could get litigious really fast.
So is it safe? Will someone get gored? We go to the event's Frequently Asked Questions for more:
We do what we can to minimize those 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, but make no mistake: you could get seriously injured in this event.
Because some folks will undoubtedly be more concerned about bovine safety, the FAQs also address the issue of animal handling:
Unlike the running of the bulls in Spain, we don’t kill the bulls in a bullfight, nor do we abuse them IN ANY WAY. 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.
The events are also held on grass or dirt, unlike Pamplona's cobblestone streets and the organizers claim they are completely dedicated to the animals' comfort. The run is only a quarter-mile (about half the length of the traditional course) and the point isn't so much to outrun the bulls, but to run along with them until they leave you behind (or, you know, start pointing their horns at you). After the run, there's also a Tomato Royale fight and participates get a free celebratory beer. (Participants are, we should point out, not allowed to drink beforehand.)
The Northern California event will happen June 21, 2014 at a currently unannounced location in the Bay Area. Registration is a mere $35 if you sign up before January 2014 and goes up every month after that.
If you're mulling over participation, remember this year's marquee running in Pamplona saw at least one U.S. tourist and two Spaniards gored in the annual celebration, although festival organizers point out only 15 people have ever died in the 102 years the event has been going on.