There Will Be a Running of the Bulls in Ennis, and Organizers Are Pretty Sure No One Will Die

When a half dozen bulls chase hordes of borderline-suicidal pedestrians through the cobblestone streets of Pamplona, Spain, every year, they do so as part of a cultural tradition dating back centuries. The bull run began as a way to goad the animals from corrals to the bull ring. The weeklong celebration that surrounds them originated as a religious festival honoring the town's patron saint.

When a herd of bulls thunders after borderline-suicidal pedestrians at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis next April, they will be doing so in the American tradition of taking incredibly stupid risks because it's entertaining.

The organizers of The Great Bull Run, which is about to launch a 10-city American tour of Pamplona-style encierros are fairly open about the dangers.

"Much like rock climbing, mountain biking, skydiving and other extreme sports, running with live bulls is an inherently dangerous activity (which is why it's so thrilling)," they offer in their FAQs. "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 thrill is only lessened somewhat by the presence of nooks where runners can duck out of the bulls' way and the fact that these bulls will be "less aggressive" than those in Spain. Those elements were seemingly added to ease Americans' jitters; they go on to note that "There have been only 15 deaths in the Pamplona run in the past 102 years!"

Statistically speaking, that would suggest that 1.5 people will be gored and/or trampled to death during The Great Bull Run's 10 stops. On the bright side, the statistics also tell us that the fatalities probably won't be in Ennis.

Gabrielle Stevenson, general manager of Texas Motorplex, is confident of that. The organizers are the same ones behind the Rugged Maniac mud-and-obstacle run, and she describes them as "extraordinarily organized as a group." They've already run through all the details with state and local regulators. "We're gonna have safety in place."

From her perspective, hosting a bull run is no more dangerous than sending flimsy drag cars with 8,000-horsepower engines past spectators at 300 miles per hour. "We're used to being on the forefront" of extreme sports, she says.

And Stevenson points to another selling point of the coming bull run. Unlike in Spain, where a patriarchal culture bars the fairer sex from participating, the Texas Motorplex run is an equal-opportunity event, with women enjoying the same chance of being gored by a bull as their male counterparts. Lace up those running shoes, ladies.

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