Make us your home page

Forget Pamplona, run with the bulls in Dade City

A chance to dodge stampeding bulls used to require a flight to Spain. But thrill seekers who can't afford a trip to Pamplona for the running of the bulls, get excited: You can risk life and limb in Dade City instead.

On Saturday, the inaugural Great Bull Run takes over the horse track at Little Everglades Ranch, where in six runs, humans and bulls will intermingle.

"It's exhilarating when you're done with it" — assuming you haven't been gored, said Rob Dickens, chief operating officer for the Great Bull Run.

Before a run, bulls and steers that range in weight from 800 to 1,700 pounds are corralled at the start of a track and participants — up to 300 per run this weekend — pick spots anywhere on the track to wait for the bulls and steers to round the bends.

"Bulls tend not to run," Dickens said. "They tend to dare you to come at them." But steers, which are castrated bulls, "will run, and that will trigger the bulls' stampede instinct."

As the stampede approaches, participants are free to get so close to the bulls and steers that they have to dodge them, but they are also free to hide in nooks in the fence and watch them pass. In each run Saturday, 18 bulls and steers will be released in two waves of nine, so everybody gets two chances to dodge them.

"It'll be over within a minute," Dickens said. "Bulls run much faster than people" — up to 35 mph. "Your hair's standing on end, adrenaline's pumping," he said. "You're not running to a finish line. You're getting out of the way."

But only after you've signed an assumption of risk.

Face it, said Dickens, who has participated in several bull runs: "You could die."

"If you get run over by a bull, well, that's what you signed up for," he said. "It's not just the bulls you have to worry about. It's the people."

Fellow participants could collide with you, too.

"If it was a completely safe event, there would be no lure," said Dickens.

But participants can be careful.

"Best not to wear loose, flowing clothes that could get hooked on a bull's horn," Dickens said. And hop the fence if you think you have to.

Only 15 people have perished in the Pamplona bull runs in a century, he said, 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.

More likely than with injuries, Dickens said, participants "leave with a sense of accomplishment, great stories and some bragging rights."

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at or (727) 869-6235.

>> If you go

The Great Bull Run

The Great Bull Run is Saturday at Little Everglades Ranch, 17951 Hamilton Road, Dade City. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and the bull runs start at 11. The day also features music, food, beer and, at 3 p.m., the Tomato Royale, a food fight using about 30,000 pounds of tomatoes, modeled after a Spanish festival called La Tomatina. The cost to participate in a bull run is $65 and includes permission to participate in the Tomato Royale. The cost to participate solely in the Tomato Royale is $40. Spectators can watch the bull runs and the royale for $10. Parking is $10. For information, visit online.

Forget Pamplona, run with the bulls in Dade City 03/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 29

    Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 29


    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention's biggest crowd is expected today. Celebrity appearances include actors Kate Beckinsale, Rose McGowan and Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens. Doors open at 8 a.m. Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. $30-$40; 12 and younger free. (813) …

    Kate Beckinsale is appearing this weekend at Tampa Bay Comic Con. Miramax Film Corp (2009)
  2. Want to audition for Howl-O-Scream? Here's how.


    How would you like a job that has you running all night, dodging punches and earning high marks from your boss if you make someone wet their pants?

    Lindsay Weppelman, a University of South Florida biomedical science student, plays a Zombie Bride in one of Busch Gardens' open-air scare zones at Howl-O-Scream 2016.  Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens.
  3. Tampa Bay Comic Con: Live blog, and 5 things to know before heading there


    Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, expected to attract more than 55,000 like-minded nerds mingling with cosplayers, celebrities, artists and sellers of comic books and collectibles.

    Surrounded by the bridesmaids dressed as Disney princesses and groomsmen dressed as Marvel superheroes, Gwen Walter of Venice, Fla., kisses her husband, Shawn Walter, also of Venice, after their wedding ceremony on day two of the 2016 Tampa Bay Comic Con in the Tampa Convention Center on August 6, 2016. The pair got engaged at Megacon 2015 and were married wearing "Nightmare Before Christmas"-themed costumes. Two different couples were married in Room 24 on the second day of the Tampa Bay Comic Con 2016. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
  4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High turns 35: Learn it. Know it. Live it


    Fast Times at Ridgemont High not only is the perfect time capsule of pop culture in the early ‘80s - all it needed was some tasty waves and cool buds = it’s also high art. How so? Leave it to me. I'm the full hot orator today. Did you know the cast actually featured three future Academy Award …