Bull run the first of its kind in the U.S.
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Aug 21, 2013, 14:06
DINWIDDIE — Never before has there been an organized bull-running event in the United States. On Saturday, history will be made as cattle stampede behind a sprinting horde of people at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie.
This weekend marks the kickoff experience of The Great Bull Run, a nationwide series of events modeled after the infamous ‘Running With The Bulls’ in Pamplona, Spain. The run will occur in 10 locations in eight different states, with the final run in Chicago in July of 2014.
The Great Bull Run was founded by Rob Deckins and Brad Scudder, also founders of the Rugged Maniac adventure obstacle course, who have always generated excitement about running with bulls, but never made the trip to Spain, according to spokesperson Jamie Berman.
Of the four scheduled runs on Saturday, each run will span the length of a quarter-mile track, on which every individual will pick a place to stand somewhere on the track. The bulls will be released in three waves of eight at one end of the track and run down to the other end of the track at speeds of up to 35 mph, according to The Great Bull Run website.
Certain safety precautions have been taken to alleviate some of the known dangers involved in the Pamplona run. The Great Bull Runs take place on grass or dirt to decrease one’s chances of falling over while running. They also do not take place in narrow city streets, but in large, open spaces surrounded by fences that are easy to climb over and have slats in them if you want to get out of the way of a bull.
Despite the safety measures that have been established for the event, Berman said there are no guarantees and that all participants are required to sign a waiver before taking part in the run.
“It kind of goes hand in hand with just the nature of the event. It is an inherently dangerous event. The people that have signed up for this event have recognized that and I think that’s part of the reason why they do it because of the adrenaline and the fact that afterwards they can say they ran with the bulls,” Berman said.
There will be professional bull handlers at the scene who have experience with rodeos to handle the bulls as well as veterinarians to check the bulls’ health before and after every run, Berman said.
Safety officials on site will include members from A&B Ambulance, the Virginia State Police, the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department.
Major William Knott of the Dinwiddie Police Department said they have had several meetings with promoters, track owners and management to discuss specific safety preparations and expectations.
“We’ll have enough officers available to meet the requirements that the track has asked us to provide and to meet the needs of anything that may come up,” Knott said. “We’re looking forward to everyone coming and having a good time and enjoying themselves. We want to keep everybody safe ... and get on the road at the end of the day with nobody injured or upset.”
Because this is the inaugural event of any like its kind in the United States, Knott said it is uncertain to determine exactly what will happen.
“We’re kind of the guinea pigs on this thing ... I think everybody is going to be looking at us to see how this thing works out to see what to expect at events later on down the road,” Knott said.
Following the bull run is the Tomato Royale, which Berman said is basically just a “giant food fight” with a vast supply of tomatoes.
“I was told that they have ordered 50,000 pounds of tomatoes,” Berman said.
There is a list of designated rules for the Tomato Royale which includes using protective eyewear, not throwing tomatoes at someone’s head and squashing the tomatoes before throwing them, according to The Great Bull Run’s website.
Not everyone who goes is required to take part in the bull run. There are three different options which include the bull run and the tomato fight, just the tomato fight or simply observing for a minimal price.
As of Tuesday evening, Berman estimated that 5,000 people were expected to show up at the event on Saturday, however people can continue entering to participate through Saturday.
The first run will being at 11 on Saturday morning, followed by three more runs at noon, 1 and 3:30, according to The Great Bull Run’s website. The Tomato Royale will take place at 2 p.m.