All about the bulls

Born to run, and that's no bull

By Emily Brown, @emily_brown88


8:34 PM CDT, July 10, 2014


Unfortunately, we cannot interview bulls to know what they think when sprinting with hundreds of humans. But we can get a glimpse into what their lives are like as the Great Bull Run visits Chicago this weekend.

For starters, there's a reason the event is held on dirt.

"Running on pavement is bad for hooved animals," said Rob Patton, co-founder of the Great Bull Run. "We want to protect the bulls' hooves. In Spain, they run on cobblestone and kill the bulls after. We use the same bulls at the events nationwide."

And unlike the Spanish tradition, at Hawthorne there will be cowboys on horseback to lasso the bulls and protect runners if needed.

All the animals in the Great Bull Run are raised at Lone Star Rodeo in Crofton, Ky. RedEye spoke with ranch owner Preston Fowlkes for more on the event's rock stars.

How are the bulls trained?

Cattle follow cattle. I've got some bulls that have been on every bull run and know where to go and of course on Friday before the start of the event, we always show them the course. In every group of bulls there are leaders and we use four or five leaders and they run in sections in eight or nine.

What do they do before and after the event?

There are tents set up and there's water. We feed them once a day, that's usually in the morning and they have access to water all day. We'll have the fans that spray them down on the bulls to not get so hot.

Do some of the runners reach out and touch the bulls? How does that affect them?

It doesn't do anything. It's more to say you did something. It's almost like you touched a celebrity.

What's the average day like for a bull at the ranch?

We feed them every morning between 6 and 7 a.m. and then they've got 100 acres that they wander around. They've got plenty of grass and water and we feed them grain every day. And, of course, they've got all their shots to be able to travel.

The running with the bulls is a unique event in that there's danger, but you can take care of yourself if you listen to the commentators that are there to tell you what to do. To me, it's almost like skydiving, bungee jumping, that kind of thing.