California’s Newest Blood Sport: Running of the Bulls

Friday, February 07, 2014
Protest in Pamplona

It’s time for folks in California to “grab life by the horns and experience the rush of a lifetime” by aggravating animal rights advocates and importing one of Spain’s more dubious contributions to Western culture.

The Temecula Downs Event Center is scheduled to host the state’s first running of the bulls on June 21, giving participants an opportunity to careen through Galway Downs while being chased by 24 antagonized animals weighing up to a ton. Unlike its inspiration in Pamplona, Spain, there will be no bullfight afterward. They are illegal.

The event is being held just outside Temecula city limits. Another bull run is scheduled for Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton July 26. 

A similar event was scheduled for Lake Elsinore March 8, but it was cancelled after concerns were raised about the safety of all concerned. A statement from City Manager Grant Yates explained, “We are the action sports capital of the world where our residents and visitors can dream extreme. However, unlike most of the action sports and events in our community, this event invited inexperienced, untrained and unprotected participants to take part in what could be a dangerous and unpredictable activity.”

Officials at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) expressed relief at the Lake Elsinore cancellation and haven’t indicated whether they will emulate a protest by 100 PETA members and other activists who lay naked and “bloodied” in the main square of Pamplona, Spain, before its annual festival.

The Great Bull Run” in Temecula will be capped off with an “insanely fun tomato food fight, Tomato Royale,” before an all day celebration “featuring live music, great food, cold beer, games and attractions!” No bulls are invited, and with good reason.

They are unpredictable and can quickly get out of hand, as participants observed at the country’s first bull run last August 24 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Two people were taken to the hospital, one after being trampled, when a laconic romp suddenly picked up speed and urgency.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” runner Matthew Stinson told CBS News. “I mean people were getting tossed in the air a few times by bulls but those people just hopped back up and hopped over the fence.”

The Virginia event was punctuated by the appearance of yet another fearful object—a drone. A pilotless airborne vehicle was being used by a Richmond-area television station to capture video of the event crashed into the stands, causing minor injuries to a handful of spectators.

The Boston-based Great Bull Run LLC plans 10 events for 2014. Participants in the run are required to buy insurance and sign a waiver absolving the company of any responsibility should something go wrong. And co-found Rob Dickens readily admits something could go wrong.

“This is not a petting zoo,” Dickens told Reuters. “The bulls will not stop and lick your hand—they'll run over you, if you don't get out of the way.” 

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Temecula: Running With Bulls Event Thundering into Region (by Aaron Claverie, Riverside Press-Enterprise)

Pamplona-Style Bull Running Is Coming to America (by Gary Robertson, Reuters)

Lake Elsinore Says No to “Great Bull Run” (by Toni McAllister, Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch)

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