The Great Bull Run hasn’t even had it’s first event yet, but is already getting a lot of attention.
More than 8,000 people are signed up to participate or watch the first bull run in Richmond, Virginia this Saturday, according to Rob Dickens, the event founder and chief operating officer. He says he always wanted to run with the bulls in Spain, but found it too expensive and time consuming to participate.
So he launched the Great Bull Run.
“We have done test runs with our ranch out in Kentucky. And let me tell you, it is terrifying, it is exhilirating, it is thrilling and it’s certainly dangerous.”
The danger factor is what Dickens says people find appealing about the bull run.
But it’s also what has some towns saying no thanks to the event.
Just last week, a park board of directors in the Minnesota Twin Cities area voted against hosting the bull run there, citing liability concerns if someone gets injured.
But other cities are more enthusiastic, including Baytown.
“From a tourism perspective, we’re very excited about the running with the bulls event.”
Anna Enderli is tourism coordinator for the City of Baytown.
In December, the Royal Purple Raceway just outside of Baytown will host the Houston bull run.
“When I heard that was coming, I immediately did my research to learn a little bit more about it, because I had not heard of it before aside from the one in Spain. So I did the research and I discovered that this event is great.”
Enderli says the two questions on her mind were is this safe for the runners and is this safe for the animals?
She feels satisfied on those points and adds the City of Baytown is in no way involved in the event and didn’t have to grant permission for it to take place.
Dickens acknowledges the bull run is a sticking point for some animal rights groups. He says the animals are treated well and extra safety precautions are in place to protect them, like running on grass instead of on streets and running on tracks with no sharp turns.
And unlike in Spain, the U.S. bulls aren’t killed after the race.
“Most animal rights groups, now that they realize that we’re not killing the bulls, are more okay with it. And the ones that are not are opposed to it for a philosophical reason. They believe that no animal should be used for human purposes, whatsoever, whether that be for food or clothing or transportation or entertainment.”
Dickens calls that a very extreme view that most cultures around the world don’t hold.
Right now, the Great Bull Run is scheduled to appear in nine U.S. cities.
It might be worth keeping an eye on what happens in Virginia this weekend to figure out the future of running with the bulls in America.