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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Great Bull Run

Running with the Bulls in Pamplona Spain is probably one of the most bucket listy things you can do. Getting to Spain has not been feasible for us, though, as we still have 5 kids at home. When my friend informed me early in 2013 that there were some guys doing bull run events around the country and they were coming to Houston, I knew I had to be there. The run was originally scheduled to come here in December 2013, and I bought my tickets in May. My husband agreed to run with me and we patiently waited out the year, hearing constantly how insane we were from our friends and family, and being cautioned about our almost certain death. December rolled around and unfortunately the event was postponed to January. That was a good thing though, as the weather was cold but nice the day it finally occurred. Our run was at 11am and we got there at about 9am to check in and freak out (at least in my case. My husband seemed pretty calm and excited about it). Around 10:45 we made our way to the track and I strapped on my GoPro camera. We went through the opening where you get your bandanas and say a Bull Run pledge to honor the bulls and took our place on the track. We weren't sure which way the bulls were coming out so we just picked a random spot by one of the two corral areas. Then we counted down, 10..9..8... it was too late to turn back. I felt nauseated. 3..2..1 and there they came, barreling down the lanes. They were supposed to be released in two waves, but the first set of 12 bulls decided to politely wait for their friends to join, and all 24 bulls ended up running at once. Within 5 seconds a man was down, trampled by the stampede. We heard the crowd go "OOHHH!!!" and knew something had gone wrong. Oh no, what did we get ourselves into? The crowd rushed towards me, pushing me forward. I ran. I tried to position myself toward the center of the track so my GoPro could catch all the glorious action. I saw horns and hide rush past me. I felt a huge rush of adrenaline. The crowd slowed. A man over a loud speaker told us the exit was on the left. That was it? Sure, I'd run with the bulls and survived to tell the tale, but it was hardly the live endangering event I'd thought it would be. My husband decided he wanted to try again. This time he knew where to position himself to get the best action from the bulls. He got right in front where they released the bulls from the corral. If I thought it was nerve wracking to get on the track and run, it was even worse to watch my husband do it. I cringed as he dodged the bulls and smacked one on the back. At one point he had to jump on the fence to keep himself from getting trampled. A guy in front of him wasn't able to get on the fence and took several really hard hits. The guy was okay, but ended up with a concussion and scrapes and bruises.

Before he went into the track for his last run, I kissed him and wished him good luck, which caught the attention of the local news cameraman. He filmed our sweet moment and then asked if he could interview us for a minute. Of course we obliged and talked to him before the run started. I'll add the videos of the runs and our interview here for you to see -

After the bull runs were over, there was a giant tomato royale, like the one held in Spain. Over 30,000lbs of tomatoes were sitting in the middle of the track. Everyone gathered at the fences waiting to be let in, and when the klaxon sounded, it was a mad dash for the middle of the pile. The crazier people went straight into the middle and began hurling them. The others hung out around the perimeter and lobbed stray tomatoes back into the mix. Since it was so cold out, I decided to wear a rain pancho over my clothes so I wouldn't get wet and we all had to wear protective goggles to protect our eyes. This was a good thing as within minutes a giant whole tomato crashed into my face and hit me right in my goggles. OUCH! I got hit dozens of more times after that, but thankfully not right in the shnoz again. It was pure mayhem. As the tomato juice mixed with the dirt of the track, it turned into a mud pit. Every tomato was covered in muddy slime and some people chose to just throw handfuls of muck instead of tomatoes all together. The crazy people in the middle were slipping, sliding and rolling in it. Everyone was covered head to toe in mud. I took a look around and decided I wasn't getting the full experience with my rain pancho on, so I took it off. As I was wearing bright white clothing, this attracted a LOT of attention from people who thought I hadn't been participating. A few muddy folk gave me big bear hugs but I still didn't get that dirty. Finally a group of guys came up and said they weren't going to be able to let me leave the track with clothes that clean. They grabbed me (nicely) and took me right into the center. I was instructed to dive right into the muck, which I obliged, and they all proceeded to pelt me with mud and deflated tomatoes. After they were done, I definitely no longer looked like I hadn't participated. To be honest, that was my favorite part of the day!

I am looking forward to running again when the bull run comes back in September. Will any of you be joining me?
Warning : language 

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