Great Bull Run comes to Hawthorne Race Course - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Great Bull Run comes to Hawthorne Race Course

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

If running from a stampede of bulls is on your bucket list, you're in luck – and you don't have to travel all the way to Pamplona. The Spanish tradition is coming to the Chicago area, and across the nation.

More than 1,000 area residents have already signed up for the "Great Bull Run" at the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, including Marissa Lapp, who jumped at the opportunity.

"I'm a little bit of an adrenaline junky," Lapp says. "I like to skydive, hang glide…so this is just the next natural step. Things get a little redundant and boring and you just need something that's a little more exhilarating."

Last month, dozens of people were trampled at the annual bull run in Pamplona, Spain. A massive pile-up trapped the crowd at a narrow entrance. 23 were injured, including one American tourist from Ohio who was gored in the buttocks.

Over the phone, CEO Rob Dickens says his team is trying to make the run safer than the Spanish event.

"The humans can climb out of track if necessary, to get out of the way of the bulls," Dickens explains. "And the track fencing also has nooks along the way, kinda like a doorway, where people can side step from danger if they have to."

Lapp says she understands and has accepted the risks involved.

"You do sign a waiver," she says. "You turn that in the day of registration. They do say that basically if anything happens it's your own fault."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has criticized the bull run in Pamplona in years past. Today, the animal rights group sent FOX 32 this statement:

"'The Great Bull Run' is an excuse to scare and taunt animals, and it is as unsafe as it is un-American. In this U.S. version of the ‘Running of the Bulls,' the animals will be subjected to loud noises and crowds of panicked people."

Dickens emphasizes, in contrast to Pamplona, the bulls will not be whipped and then killed in a bull fight in the end.

"We'll have a veterinarian on site at all times just to make sure the bulls are being treated properly and they're completely healthy and able to do the run," Dickens says.

The bull run in Pamplona dates back to the 16th Century. It's a nine day street festival honoring Pamplona's Patron Saint, San Fermin.

"The Great Bull Run" in Chicago will take place on just one day: Saturday, July 12. There will be four run times throughout the day with 24 bulls on the track. Up to 6,000 brave participants are expected.

The run begins next month in Richmond, Virginia, and will hit eight cities before coming to the Chicago area.

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