It's a tradition that has been around since the 14th century, a time-tested event that brings together hundreds and hundreds of people each and every year while challenging them to step up and take a chance. Yes, we're talking about Spain's running of the bulls.
No need to glance at the other side of the Atlanta anymore: the event is coming to an area much, much closer to you. The organization Running of the Bulls has scheduled a series of bull runs in Cave Creek, AZ that will take place from Oct. 14-16. Next weekend's event, Running of the Bulls USA, differs from its Spanish counterpart and uses rodeo bulls as opposed to Mexican fighting bulls. That distinction, though, will be relatively irrelevant to the hundreds of adventurous souls who will participate.
The event will feature seven different bull runs, featuring slightly under 1,000 runners total, as they run with the bulls for one-quarter of a mile. How dangerous is it?
According to Marketing Director Cori Harris, not very. In the three prior editions of the event (twice in Mesquite, NV in 1998-1999 and once in Scottsdale, AZ in 2002), only one person has been hurt, and that person merely experienced scrapes and cuts after falling in front of the bulls.
Running of the Bulls goes to lengthy measures in order to ensure the safety of its runners. For the runner mentioned above and others who may fall during the race, rodeo staff remain on-hand to direct the bulls away. There are also exits every 100 feet for those who psyche themselves out during the race and want to exit. Medical personnel stay on the premises just in case of emergency.
So what's the optimal strategy when running with the bulls? According to Harris, the best things to do are to either run as fast as possible in front of the bulls or (for the less adventurous) to stick to the sides. The key, of course, is to experience the adrenaline rush within your level of comfort.
It hasn't been an easy road for Running of the Bulls. The organization has faced challenges from animal rights groups who claim that using the bulls is animal cruelty. When asked about the difficulties that came with planning the event, Harris responded, "We've got a lot of flack from protestors and PETA. What people don't realize is that we have the full support of the town of Cave Creek, and we're actually really in-tune with animal rights and animal safety."
This year's event expects to draw in about 10,000 spectators in addition to the roughly 1,000 runners. For those who haven't already registered, tickets for both runners and spectators can be bought at the door on the days of the event. A portion of the proceeds will go to funding non-profit organizations.
Obstacles such as the aforementioned animal rights controversy and the issue of finding a suitable venue have kept the Running of the Bulls event away for almost an entire decade, with the last such bull run taking place in 2002. It's back now though, and it may be here to stay. Speaking about the organization's plans for the future of the event, Harris said, "Our goal for the event is to make it an annual thing. We would like to keep it in Arizona... This is (a) light-hearted, fun, family event happening for people of all ages."
The event is coming to Arizona in just one week, and thousands of people will flock to experience the thrill that is bull running. SB Nation Arizona's very own writer Shaun Al-Shatti and photographer Ryan Malone will test their stamina and participate in the media run on Friday, Oct. 14th.
If you're a risk seeker or just someone looking to experience something new, consider joining Shaun, Ryan and a ton of other adventurous individuals. Running of the Bulls, as mentioned before, will feature seven total runs over the course of the weekend (with two runs on Oct. 14th, four runs on Oct. 15th and three runs on Oct. 16th), allowing flexibility in timing for those who may already have booked schedules.
Interested? You can find more information about the event by visiting the Running of the Bulls official website here.