Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Want to know what it's like to run with the bulls? (watch and listen)

DADE CITY

Only one thing comes into your head as you stare up the track, waiting for your chance to jump in front of thousands and thousands of pounds of raging, snorting beef: your heartbeat.

It beats from your sternum up through your ears, your own war drum, drowning out thoughts of "why am I here?" or "what would my mother say if I died facedown in this grass under the crushing weight of 60 hooves?" You've probably already found a way to reconcile or ignore those, anyway.

Then a man yells "here they come!" And you watch hundreds of others turn toward you to flee. Behind them, you see the horns.

Your legs come into motion by themselves. There is only instinct now. A primal, guttural sound that you may not recognize as your own escapes your throat — something beyond fear.

It is the wild cry of survival.

• • •

Before the Great Bull Run, CEO Rob Dickens offered me some advice:

"This is not a race in any sense of the word. Outrunning the bulls is out of the question."

And why would it be? The bulls come down the track about 35 miles per hour, he said. The average human sprints at about 12 to 15.

If you fall, he said, it's best to stay down. The bulls will likely jump over you. If you try to get up, you only become a bigger target.

Only 15 people have perished in the Pamplona bull runs in a century, he told the Tampa Bay Times in an earlier interview, and of the more than 10,000 people who have participated in the Great Bull Run's events so far, nobody has died and only two injuries have been serious: a broken wrist and a broken pelvis. (On Saturday, no one was seriously injured).

You stand at either side of the track. When the bulls come, you decide whether to run beside the fence and play it safe, or run with them and try to get close. The closer you get, the more dangerous it becomes, the more authentic the adrenaline high.

People have been feeding the urge in this way since at least 1592 in Pamplona, Spain. Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises brought pilgrims of the sport from all over the world.

Then Rob Dickens decided to bring it stateside and make it a little safer. Every few feet of track, there are nooks into which you can scurry if you're being run down by one of the heaving creatures. Their horns are dulled, too. But make no mistake, as a waiver ensures you are aware, YOU COULD DIE.

That's what drew thousands of runners and spectators and me out to the Little Everglades Ranch on Saturday morning, where for $35 before, $65 the day of, you could feel like you were going to die.

"I like it because it's unfiltered," said Gary Adams, 24, part of a group of college buddies who came from Orlando.

"I wanted a life-threatening reason to train and run for this," said his friend Alejandro Caicedo, 23. "It takes me back to a time before 'do not try this at home.'  "

Indeed, the run takes you back to a mind frame indistinguishable from an animal's and rips you from the safe dailiness of personhood. There is no living in the moment quite like checking over your shoulder to find that you are directly in the path of a stampeding steer. The primal shriek spills out again and you dash out of the way just in time. In less than 15 seconds, it's over.

As you turn around to watch the bulls thunder down the track, you again become aware of yourself. Only this time, it's more intense. Your vision is more vivid. Smells stand out more. You are now conscious of the warmth of sun on your skin.

You are alive.

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

   
Comments
Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  — The Russians finally have a gold medal at the  Olympics, thanks to a 15-year-old who beat the fellow teen who inspired her to become a figure skater.Alina Zagitova won one of the Games' spotlight events Frida...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 22

Thursday’s scoreboardSoftballBoca Ciega 4, Pinellas Park 2Admiral Farragut 7, Northside Christian 1Boys tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Clearwater Central Cath. 4, Jesuit 3Girls tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Boys basketballClass 3A, region semifina...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Eight days after mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

In 2015, Conchy the flamingo showed up at Florida’s Naval Air Station Key West, and he wouldn’t leave. Normally, managers on the grounds lethally remove feathered troublemakers — it can be very dangerous with birds flying around million-dollar fighte...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Associated PressSTARKE — An inmate convicted of raping and killing a college student decades ago screamed and yelled "murderers!" three times, thrashing on a gurney as he was being put to death Thursday. The governor’s office said Eric Scott Branch, ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

TAMPA — Across Interstate 4 from Ybor City’s nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic — and much less pleasant — than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 9 hours ago