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How to survive the Great Bull Run (and not get gored)

By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz

4:35 PM CDT, July 13, 2014

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I did not get gored by a bull, and I am fine with that.

On Saturday, a few thousand thrill-seekers and I participated in the Great Bull Run at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero.

When I signed up a few weeks ago, I assumed it would be like an obstacle course where the obstacles would be fast but nonthreatening.

Then I saw the headlines last week. First, four people were hospitalized at the famed Running of the Bulls in Spain. Then Chicagoan and RedEye contributor Bill Hillmann was gored in the thigh in the Pamplona event.

This is a guy who contributed to a book about how not to get gored by bulls.

The fear started to set in because I signed up for the first heat out of six, so I wouldn't know what I was getting myself into until it was happening.

Luckily, I did not actually run with the bulls this weekend.

In the first heat, dozens of us were ushered onto the track and given red bandannas to wave. The course was difficult to walk on, much less run, because of heavy rains earlier that day.

An MC instructed us to stand along the track fences and wait for the bulls to be released in three waves. When they got to you, you were supposed to run.

He cautioned about stray bulls because those are more dangerous than those in the group.

The countdown began, and whoosh, the bulls were released. They got to me, and I started running—into other people. There were so many people on the course and not enough time to process how close you wanted to get to the bull that indecision caused confusion. Plus, bulls are quick. They don't wait for you.

By the time the second wave was released, I was more prepared. Then one strayed from the pack. It slowed down and weaved, creating more chaos. I felt a person next to me start to climb the fence. I just sort of stared at the bull, which moved on without incident.

Then the third wave came and whoosh, the "run" was over. I think I ran a few feet in all.

I got to be near some bulls, which felt both exciting and odd. But this was not Spain.

I watched the second heat and saw a guy move toward the center of the course like he wanted to be trampled by a bull.

One participant was hit in the leg by a horn and suffered swelling, the Tribune reported.

No thanks. Next time I want to be chased by a Bull, I'll call Joakim Noah.

 

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