Thrill-seekers will soon be running with the bulls when they’re unleashed in several cities across the country, officials said.
The Pamplona-inspired Great Bull Run will begin an eight-state tour after a wild, man-vs.-beast event at a drag-racing strip just south of Richmond, Va., on Aug. 24, organizers said.
About 5,000 people have already signed up for the inaugural bull run, despite the high risk for injury or death.
Since 1924, 15 people have been killed in the famed San Fermin festival in Spain — which Jets coach Rex Ryan ran in last month. The most recent death was in 2009, when a 27-year-old man was gored in the neck and chest by a rogue bull named Capuchino.
“By participating in the run, you accept the risk that you might be trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull, or bumped, jostled, tripped or trampled by your fellow runners,” the event states on its website.
“We do what we can to minimize those risks by using less-aggressive bulls than those used in Spain and allowing runners to hide in nooks and climb over the track fence if necessary, but make no mistake: you could get seriously injured at this event.”
Even with the harsh warning, about 50 people a day continue to sign up for the first run with about 2,000 people already planning to take part in a second event in Georgia, the group’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Rob Dickens, told the Associated Press.
Other bull runs are planned for cities in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
The daring events have long caused opposition from animal rights groups.
“These events are a shameful example of cruelty for the sake of nothing more than entertainment and profit,” Ann Chynoweth, senior director of The Humane Society of the United States’ End Animal Fighting & Cruelty Campaign, told the AP.
“These companies put the health and safety of both humans and animals at risk, without the required federal oversight,” she said. “We call on the USDA to investigate these entities immediately.”
But the organizers of the Great Bull Run argued the claims and said that they are “wholly committed to the health and safety of the animals we work with.”
Dickens said the fenced-in courses will be safer for runners than the narrow, cobble-stoned streets of the Pamplona event made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”
The bulls will be released in waves of six at a time to give more space and a “better opportunity to complete the course safely,” Dickens said.
He also said the group’s choice in livestock won’t pose the same danger as the bulls used in Spain.
“We’re not using the Spanish fighting bulls that are bred to be very aggressive for the entertaining aspect of bullfighting,” Dickens said.
He argued that the purpose of the event is to give a sense of adventure for aspiring mozos.
“You can go running down the street any time you want, but to run with bulls — that's something that doesn't come along very often,” Dickens said.
By Joe Kemp With News Wire Services -