UPDATED It's Almost Here -- The Great Bull(shit) Run of Baytown!

UPDATE: The run has been rescheduled for January 25, due to weather concerns. (The weekend forecast calls for an unpleasant 39 degrees and sleet). Promoter Rob Dickens tells us in an email that "all tickets are valid for the new event date; there's no action required on the part of ticketholders. Online registration for this event has been reopened and will now close at 11:59 p.m. on January 17th."

He added, "We didn't make this decision lightly, but when faced with a real threat of hypothermia for our bulls and our event attendees, it was the only prudent course of action. Had the forecast for Sunday been any better, we would've postponed the event until then."

Are you a thrill-seeker of the highest order, or at least of a middling level? Do you crave well-orchestrated pseudo-danger of the sort that allows you to sport a commemorative T-shirt and boast to your buds at the douche factory the following day? Well then, we suggest you go run with a bunch of bulls in Baytown's Royal Purple Raceway this Saturday.

Thanks to the Great Bull Run, LLC (nothing says thrill ride like "limited liability company" -- the words simply ooze menace), idiots in ten cities have the chance to get their Hemingway on.

The Great Bull Run is the brainchild of two former lawyers, and has already attracted thousands of runners and spectators in Virginia and Georgia -- to mixed reviews. While there have been some broken bones, some participants complained that the event was too brief, and felt that the bulls seemed largely uninterested.

To their credit, the latter could be a result of the promoters' stated intent not to mistreat the bulls or to poke or prod them in order to rile them up. Rob Dickens told The New York Times, "People sign up for this, and they're getting what they signed up for. But there's no reason a bull should die."

According to the company's Web site, the bulls aren't abused "in any way. We don't hit them, shock them or deprive them of food, water, light or sleep. In fact, we've taken numerous measures to ensure our bulls remain safe and healthy at all times."   The bulls "have been trained to run the course without physical contact and to be accustomed to large crowds of humans, thereby eliminating any stress or fear on their part," according to the site.

Still, participants have to sign a three-page waiver releasing the Great Bull Run from any liability in the event of an injury, eliminating the ability to sue. (Riiiight).

Katie Jarl, the Texas director of the Humane Society of the U.S., told Hair Balls in an e-mail that some HSUS folks attended the Virginia event and "witnessed an exercise with nothing but manufactured drama for the participants. Bulls were chased by men on horses to run down the center of a quarter-mile track while participants alongside for less than a minute. The bulls had no interest in chasing participants and actually tried to avoid the runners....We are still concerned, however, the promoters may try to increase the risk of their events by harassing the animals to fabricate more drama."

Referring to the promoters' practice of transporting the bulls -- on loan from a Kentucky ranch -- from city to city, Jarl wrote, "Animals shouldn't have to be trucked hundreds of miles to be chased by men on horseback so participants can pretend they are Ernest [Hemingway] for an afternoon. Animals deserve better than being repeatedly subjected to these absurd events. But whether it's boring or exciting, bull running is not a tradition we should import into the United States, and we encourage sensible people to stay away."

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