They defied death, and descended upon Dinwiddie for the first running of the bulls in America – thousands of people attended the inaugural Great Bull Run Saturday, dressed in sombreros, capes, and American flags, ready to grab life by the horns.
"You see peoples' faces getting more and more panicked, and then you know it's do or die, you have to run," said amateur bull runner Molly Walter. "It was thrilling, I would do it again in a heartbeat."
The Virginia Motorsports Park packed 500 people per race into the quarter-mile course, where ranchers launched 12 bulls into the crowd. The event featured seven races total, with the final heat sending 24 bulls down the course.
"They catch up on you really quick," said Tony Muniz, who traveled from Raleigh, N.C. for the race. "You can't see [the bulls] because there's a large crowd of people. But all of a sudden they come through and they're a lot faster than they look."
Organizers feared death could have been a serious possibility for dozens of participants, but only one man was sent away in an ambulance after the final leg of the event. The man was trampled and laid still on the ground near the end of the track, before participants pulled him out of the path of an oncoming stampede.
The man was conscious and alert afterwards, moving his arms as he was put on a stretcher and transported to Southside Regional Hospital where he is currently being treated. Event organizers issued a statement wishing the injured runner a speedy recovery.
Each bull weighed approximately 1,000 lbs., brought to the event from a bull farm in Kentucky. The animals run as fast as 35 mph, making the Great Bull Run more about dodging the beasts, rather than outrunning them.
For the runners, rejoicing that they survived the running of the bulls, a tomato fight known as the "Tomato Royale" sent crushed tomatoes flying.
Journalists from Spain also attended the race, where the running of the bulls has become a tradition in the city of Pamplona for the past 103 years.
Now that the Great Bull Run has its first event under its belt, the company will pack up and prepare for its second event, to be held in Atlanta, Oct. 19. The race will then continue on to destinations throughout the country through the summer of 2014.
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