I first heard about The Great Bull Run from my daily extreme email from Blood, Sweat, and Cheers. While so many of the fun runs I discover don’t have a location near me, I was ecstatic that the very first Great Bull Run would be held only 2 hours away. As soon as registration opened, I immediately signed up, expecting it to sell out quickly. Apparently there aren’t as many crazy people out there as I thought and eventually they offered a LivingSocial deal at half off what I paid at $70 (they have since decreased their price for all future runs, only charging $45.) They also decreased the number of waves of runners as there just weren’t as many people signing up. So don’t I feel like a sucker?
As the event grew nearer I really did start to worry. Most of the things I do on my list have a thrilling aspect but they aren’t really dangerous. Roller coasters and skydiving and rappelling down a building all seem scary but they really aren’t. People just don’t die doing those things. The only thing I’ve ever done that was truly dangerous was rafting down the Gauley since people die doing that every year. I just made up my mind that I wouldn’t try to get close to the bulls; if I thought they were getting close, I’d jump over the fence or into one of the little nooks to get away.
The day of I arrived in time to see two waves go before me and I felt better about the situation. They made everyone get to the sides of the fencing allowing a clear-ish path for the bulls to run through and except for some brave (read: stupid) fellows trying to throw themselves directly in front of the bulls, I didn’t even really see anyone get in danger. One of these morons did look like he kinda got tossed by the bull, but again, he was asking for it.
I met up with a Meetup group from Raleigh that had all planned to run so I did have people to kinda hang out with in line and run with. I had brought along my GoPro and put the harness on backwards so you could at least see people’s faces behind me, instead of just people’s backs in front of me. I was kinda hoping it may catch a bull or two but alas, you can’t really see any in the video.
View from the GoPro
View from the Stands
I heard the announcer say, “This is the speed we’ve been looking for!” and then everyone started running. I promised myself to not look back but to just keep running; I was afraid if I looked back, I may trip and fall. I heard someone behind me yell, “OH SHIT!” and that’s when everyone around me really began sprinting and I knew they were close behind. I began looking for the nearest nook and as soon as I dove in I braved a glance behind me and saw the last of the bulls run by. For those last seconds, they had been running right also beside me (well…right beside the four-deep human barrier I also had to my side).
And just like that it was over. I left the nook and ran along behind them for awhile but then just joined the rest in walking out of the arena.
I was able to get to back to my seat to watch one more wave and then it was time to watch the Tomato Royale, fashioned after the La Tomatina. I had really just been interested in the Great Bull Run but this was included in my admission too. I wasn’t as jazzed about this and already on the fence about doing it as I wasn’t terribly excited about driving home for 2 hours covered in tomatoes (they had hoses available but you’d know you’d still feel icky without a true shower). As I was standing in the mob waiting for the gates to open for the melee, I really began thinking I didn’t want to do it all. More than any other event I’ve ever been to, there was a huge “bro” vibe going on. Sandwiched between a horde of sweaty, shirtless frat guys all drunk and all clearly way too jazzed about throwing some tomatoes, I was tired of getting stepped on and jostled about. I realized there was a bad mob mentality happening and that when the gates opened, I would most likely get pushed and trampled. So I left. I don’t regret it. It looked pretty much like you think throwing tomatoes would look like.
So while that was still going on, I left, beating a good bit of the traffic.
So would I recommend it: Sure. Especially if you only have to pay $35/$45. Nothing like getting the adrenaline going! And as long as you don’t try to do anything stupid like actually jump out in front of the bulls, it’s pretty much safe.
Running with the Bulls: COMPLETED!