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Front Page » August 15, 2013 » Opinion » Staff Column
Published 784 days ago

Staff Column

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The bull over the running of the bulls

The other day I heard that some guys have decided that the traditional running of the bulls in Spain is not good enough for them. They want to run the bulls right here in the United States.

They are planning on a running of the bulls, where people get maimed and hurt and sometimes killed, in about a dozen cities in our country. They are charging $35 apiece for passes to do so and they already have about 20,000 people signed up.

And I bet most of those signing up are urbanites and have never been near a bull or even a cow unless it was a steak on their plate.

I hate to criticize anyone's idea of fun, but come on. Running from bulls? In a lot of big cities you could get the same thrill at rush hour on the freeway or going to a bad part of town and walking down the street with $50 bills hanging out of your pocket.

Most who will do this have no idea the power of these animals. The company that is doing it is going to use rodeo stock. While never having participated in a rodeo, I have been chased by bulls many times growing up on a dairy farm, and Holstein and Jersey bulls are mild compared to those bovines. Even some of the damned cows we owned were almost as mean as the bulls, especially when they had calves.

On our farm we had usually no more than two bulls, kept in separate enclosures. As kids my friends and I would tease the bulls and my dad would get madder than hell about it. And I don't blame him now; then it seemed like good fun, until one day I was leaning over the fence looking at one of the bulls and fell in. The bull was at the other end of the long corral and I barely got out before he got to where I was. Seeing that ton of beef rushing at me at 35 miles an hour, my 10 years of life flashed before my eyes. I leapt up on the fence and somehow hoisted myself out just as his big head banged the wooden wall where I had been standing. As my adrelaline kicked in, his testosterone was ranging. It was to say the least a humbling experience. I never teased a bull again.

That's why I can't understand why grown men (and I suppose some women too since it will be held in this country) would do such a thing. Okay all sports have risks. I participate in some in which I could be easily killed. Motorcycles and four wheelers are not the safest things in the world. Neither is my dog sled at times. But I usually have some control as to what happens. With animals that big, dozens of them, with one thing on their mind, it is almost a suicide wish. Most people are not Usain Bolt and cannot even sprint as fast as they can run continually.

The course the company will set up have what I term pull outs on the sides. In other words slower runners can dive in there for safety. However, they are not blocked, they are open. The operators say once bulls start running down the course if you deviate from it and dive in one of those pullouts the bulls will run right by. Sure they will. And what if one of the pullouts are crowded with "slow runners" and a bull doesn't run by? What fun that could be.

The company says they were able to secure liability insurance, although it was hard finding a carrier. I bet the company is called Going Out of Business Property and Casualty. I am sure these guys will have some kinds of disclaimers on liability that will be signed by participants, which is the way it should be. The first line should read something like "I am insane and no one else should be held responsible for my utter disregard for my life or limb, neither Bull Runners Incorporated or the bulls themselves."

The guy who thought of it said there is nothing like the adrenaline rush after you had risked your life doing it. I'm not sure where he got his experience. In the interview I saw with him he said he has never gone to the run in Spain. Maybe he got chased across a pasture once or twice. Since he is an attorney he should know what he is talking about, right?

The bulls that are being used are not like the bull fighting bulls they use in Spain, nor will they end up in an arena where the will be killed like they are in that country (as I understand it). All animal rights organizations that I have seen that have commented on this hare- brained idea are against it. Of course some of the more far out ones are against you using a leash on your dog too.

It seems to me the bulls will have a great time. The people who get in the way...well er...not so much.

At the end of the day in each of the runs there will be a huge tomato fight, just like they have in Spain after the running. That sounds fun as long as no Killer Tomatoes come to the event.

Over the years I have participated in a lot of goofy things that could have killed me. But on this one I guess I will leave it for someone else, because at 61 years of age I learned a long time ago you don't willingly tangle with something or someone a lot bigger than you.

Besides the closest these races will come to Utah this year is southern California and I wouldn't want to spoil a trip to the beach with a steer horn stuck through me. It wouldn't look very good with my Speedo.

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August 15, 2013
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