August 3, 2013

American bull runs inspired by Pamplona

The Great Bull Run is due to kick off Aug. 24 at a drag-racing strip in Virginia.

The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Organizers of a new event planned for several U.S. cities plan to unleash bulls to sprint through fenced-in courses as daredevils try to avoid being trampled.

The Great Bull Run is inspired by the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It's due to kick off Aug. 24 at a drag-racing strip south of Richmond, Va.

A second event is planned for Oct. 19 at an Atlanta-area horse park that hosted events for the 1996 Olympics. More events are planned later for Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Bull runs -- when the animals are released to run alongside participants as spectators cheer -- are common in Spain and can drum up controversy. Injuries often occur, as do deaths, although they are much rarer. Some groups attack the treatment of the bulls used in the runs.

About 5,000 people have signed up to participate in the Virginia event, and the number grows by about 50 each day, said Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run.

And with 2,000 signed up for the Conyers, Ga., event, Dickens expects 5,000 to 7,000 to run there in October.

The U.S. events will last one day each, unlike the annual weeklong festival in Pamplona, when bull runs are held every morning. Author Ernest Hemingway wrote about the festival in his 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises," which helped it gain worldwide notoriety and attract spectators from around the globe.

Organizers acknowledge that the Great Bull Run is likely to start out on a smaller scale than its Spanish counterpart.

But they note that other physically challenging activities such as extreme off-road runs and obstacle races have become increasingly popular in the United States, and they see bull running as a natural follow-up.

 

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