Photo: Courtesy of The Great Bull Run
Sometimes running can be boring. It can be like swimming laps but on land. So I am not immune to the charms of a fun run, and I have gotten involved in a few gimmick races.
I wore a lei and ruined a pair of shoes jogging in Lake Michigan during a four-mile “Beach Run.” I wore rabbit ears for an Easter-themed 5K. I donned glowing glasses and endured the risk of falling down in the dark during the Rave Run. And, in June, I voluntarily allowed myself to be covered in colored cornstarch for the Color Run.
What did all of these events have in common? None of them involved me knowingly placing myself in the path of a raging, pointy-horned bull.
It seems like every year there are reports of runners getting trampled or gored after the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. If I’m being honest, my usual reaction to that is a silent “Good.” Because, why? If you didn’t get hurt, congratulations—you avoided getting gored by a bull, which is something I’m doing this very moment, for free. And if you did, well, you were pretty much asking for it.
But the news for local thrill-seekers is, next year, you will not need a passport in order to run with the bulls. In 2014, The Great Bull Run will be coming to the Hawthorne Race Course on July 12. It costs a mere $35, which is actually a steal compared to the $40 registration fee for the Color Run, $68 early-bird registration for the Hot Chocolate 15K, $75 for the Muddy Buddy, $85 for the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, and $175 for the Bank of America Marathon.
There has to be a way that this has been made safe for participants, I figured, as I clicked on the website out of curiosity. Not really.
“We’ve added significantly more safety precautions for The Great Bull Run to further reduce that risk (but you could still die),” says the event site, which provides a daunting three-page waiver. There are no photos of any previous American Bull Runs because the inaugural event has not yet happened.
However, the site did provide this fact: “There have been only fifteen deaths in the Pamplona running of the bulls in the past 102 years!” Only fifteen deaths! That’s like hardly any deaths at all!
Who would want to do this? I thought to myself. And it only took one email for me to find someone.
“I’d do it,” wrote Shaun Himmerick, a 39-year-old Edgewater video game producer and friend of a friend. Outlandish physical challenges aren’t anything new to Himmerick, who is currently training for the Madison Iron Man. This is a person who has been a part of countless themed and unthemed races, and has gone rappelling in the dark, and jumped off 50-foot-high bridges into water.
“If it is a physical or emotional endurance event, I would like to try it,” he wrote, explaining, “I assume a LOT of lawyers have given a LOT of time into limiting this so much that it’ll not be that much of a real risk.”
Himmerick likes his odds. “While I acknowledge the CHANCE of death, I really expect the actual chance of death to be seriously low.” He’s also counting on his own physical stamina to get him through it: “Even though there is a chance of death I expect I can outrun enough people to make sure I'm not one of the ones to actually die.”
But don’t most people who sign up for the race think that? Doesn’t someone have to be the slow one? We’ll have to wait until to see—the first event, in Virginia, is less than 2 weeks away.