Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are they mad?

The running of bulls at Pamplona is legendary. Thousands make the pilgrimage to the small Spanish town each July to enjoy the ultimate thrill of being chased through the streets to the bull ring. In the afternoon, the corrida is held and the bulls are dispatched only to be replaced by a further set of six toros bravos the next day. This goes on for the whole of the festival. 

There are a lot more who would like to take part in the event but cannot make the journey to Spain and so two Americans, Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder came up with a plan to introduce the idea in their own country. This year, there will be 10 Great Bull Runs in the country, starting with one in Houston, Texas.

Of course, this being America, the participants have to pay between $40 and $70 for the privilege and sign a 1,800 word waiver beforehand. The organisers also have a very expensive insurance contract to cover the events.

There are no such formalities for the runs in Pamplona but then that is in Spain, not America where things are very different. Another difference is that the bulls in America are allowed to survive and return to the corral to be run again another day. It is therefore no surprise that the bulls are often reluctant to take part – after all they are not stupid animals.

However, the main difference is that in Pamplona, the bulls run through the narrow streets of an ancient Spanish city. There is a sense of history and tradition about the event whereas I imagine in the good old USA, it is all about razzamatazz. They may have captured the adrenalin fuelled rush but not the true sprit of running with bulls. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have winced at the whole idea.

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