In the first stop on a planned 10-city tour in the U.S., the Great Bull Run on Saturday brought a longtime Spanish tradition to America. Thousands of thrill-seekers descended upon Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., to run with the bulls in a new stateside version of the thrilling centuries-old event.
Running with the bulls can be dangerous, but the organizers made sure that, while there was some element of risk, the safety of those running the quarter-mile track was always paramount. Prior to each run, organizers discussed the rules of the run, including what to do if you fall. Despite the risk, the runners were quite relaxed, with many drinking beer as they awaited their turn.
There is some element of strategy, as runners closer toward the center of the track were more likely to get up-close with a bull, whereas runners closer to the sides could easily jump over the fence and escape danger. Runs were scheduled for every half hour, each time involving hundreds of runners lining up and then picking their preferred spots along the track. Organizers made sure there was a clear path in the center for the bulls to run through.
With spots secured and a path cleared, the countdown began and soon 10 bulls were released onto the dirt track. In a ripple effect, the first runners began to move, signaling to those further down the track to be prepared as thousands of pounds of raw animal power were on their way down the track. As hundred of runners began to run, bodies jostled and tangled, resulting in several falls throughout the day, but no serious injuries were reported before the last race of the day.
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To cap off the historic event, the organizers of the Great Bull Run let the 600 individuals who signed up to run with the bulls onto the track, along with 24 bulls. The last race of the day fit the mental image, for many, of what running with the bulls must be like. Hundreds of people and 24 bulls competed for the same space and the element of dangerous increased significantly. Several larger falls and accidents occurred during the last race, including three runners who had to be sent to the hospital, two for concussion-like symptoms and a third for more severe injuries.