The Great Bull Run: Why do people do it?

Feeling horny? The kind that makes you want to run with bulls, that is ...

By Emily Brown, @emily_brown88


8:43 PM CDT, July 10, 2014


There is a possibility of death, and of being trampled by a herd of bulls or a crowd of people. Then there's the adrenaline rush of running alongside 1,500-pound animals roaring past you at 35 mph.

Running of the Bulls enthusiasts have walked that line for centuries in Pamplona, Spain. Now Chicagoans with the same thrill-seeking/life-risking tendencies don't have to go nearly that far.

In its eighth stop across the U.S., the Great Bull Run visits Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero on Saturday.  Six runs will take place at the quarter-mile course, beginning at 11 a.m. and every half hour until 2 p.m. Each run includes 18-20 bulls and up to 600 runners.

The bulls run down the middle of the course, with three waves of bulls released in each run. The registration fee is $75 the day of the event. And following the bull run, another Spanish tradition is celebrated: the tomato royale, aka a massive food fight.

According to organizers, more than 4,000 people have signed up to run at Hawthorne. What would possess them to do something like this? Here's your chance to find out.



Zach Edwards, 26, Pilsen

His motivation

I had lived in Spain two consecutive summers and the second summer I did the Running of the Bulls for two days in a row. It was hands down the craziest thing I've ever done. People don't realize how fast these animals are. It was literally in downtown Pamplona on cobblestone streets. You have to take it easy and be as sober as possible.

It's crazy really. One-ton animals, 10-12 bulls in two waves and you have to worry about them and other people. I definitely leapt over some; you have to get in the fetal position face down [if you fall down]. ... It's the biggest high I've had in my life.

His strategy

Without getting in front of one, I'll maybe slap one on the ass if the mood strikes.



Ashley Fracassi, 23, Wood Dale

Her motivation

I've heard of it in Spain. I'm more of a thrill seeker/junkie. [I like] the adrenaline thing because usually things don't come to Chicago. This year I plan on jumping out of an airplane, anything to do with extreme heights I want to do.

I did see [the Great Bull Run] in Atlanta. I think there was one in California, but I never knew it was coming here. ... It's a cool thing for me, especially with the unique interaction with something so huge.

Her strategy

I want to be as close to the bulls as possible without touching them. I want to be as close as possible without getting hurt. People have cut in front of the bulls; I don't want to be run over.



Oliver Urrego, 30, Northbrook

His motivation

Ultimately since I was a little kid, I've heard about the Running of the Bulls. My family is from South America and Colombia and the bull run is a staple in Spain. But it's not easy to get out there. I saw this event on Facebook, and signed up right away. I ... asked some friends from Ohio that have done Tough Mudders [races].

I immediately put together a team of friends who are die-hard about doing things like this. We will officially be running for lymphoma [research]. My mother in-law, who is a Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor, will be present along with the rest of her family.

His strategy

I'm going to try to keep at least one human in between me and the bulls at all times.



Adrian Ponce, 25, Mount Prospect

His motivation

I wanted to try something new and it was the first time I've seen something like this around. I saw it on Facebook.

His strategy

I'm going to try to be as close as possible, get the experience out of it. I'm going to be full sprint, going pretty quick. One guy has a GoPro. We got a bet that we'll put about  $20 in before the race and the person that runs away last or gets the closest is the winner. We're going to try to stick together and see who wins.



Brett Krynak, 35, Michigan

His motivation

I do have a bucket list and running with the bulls in Spain would be pretty amazing and really expensive. Chicago is a culture and city I loveso I there are two options: one, play it safe and wish I would have done that, or the second side is to be the person that does the things that thrill us.

It's a part of Spanish culture to put your hand on the flank of a bull. If there's a way to pull that off it would be great. I don't know if I'll have the chance, but it would be a cool picture running beside it.

His strategy

I'll have a GoPro on my chest and back. I want to watch the bulls come from behind me. I want to set the pace in front and center of the pack, maybe weaving in between bulls head of them. I want it to look like the bulls and people are chasing me. I've been doing sprint training, I have baseball cleats and a mouthpiece.


Wish RedEye reporter Tracy Swartz luck. She's participating in Saturday's Great Bull Run AND wearing a GoPro camera. Read her column and see the video Sunday at redeyechicago.com.