No BullSunday, July 13, 2014 by: Mac Headrick
Every year I read the same headline…it will go something like this, “Three injured one seriously” or, “Two injured, one killed” and so on. People die in accidents everyday and this fact shouldn’t surprise me. Except that the activity I refer to in my opening sentence defies all logic. It is the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain. It wasn’t until recently I realized my dislike of this event was DNA (my DNA) based.
To begin with the word “running” is an integral part of this activity. In my youth I played a lot of sports, of course the main one being football. I played both on the offensive and defensive line. It was very physical but required limited running. That part of the game was for less skilled athletes such as running backs or defensive backs. I like to walk with the dogs. I can appreciate the sound of running water such as a river or brook. I do not run around to do errands… I drive. Sometimes in life I have had to move quickly but unless forced to, I do not run. The course for the running of the bulls is 850 meters or approximately eight football fields. This distance to me represents a walk to be immediately followed by a nap.
When moving around such as walking etc, I prefer a flat, dry surface. I have been blessed with very good balance. I wear sensible footwear in the winter. I haven’t hiked in awhile but would feel comfortable doing this activity. If possible I would avoid, for example, slippery, cobbled streets such as those found in Pamplona Spain.
I grew up on a farm. We did not have animals to look after. We grew two crops being potatoes and strawberries. This fact aside, I did live in a farming community thus learned many important life lessons relative to farming. For example no matter how hot it was when haying you always wore long sleeves. This was to protect your arms from agonizing scratches from the hay. In the 1960’s many farms still had bulls for breeding purposes. Some of these bulls were raised from calves. There were two rules every farmer followed when dealing with bulls. Number one, no matter how friendly and docile they appeared to be you never trusted them with your health. Number two, under no circumstances did you ever turn your back on them.
The bulls used in the running are described as fighting bulls. They have the following characteristics. They are trained to fight. They are large. On a good day they are normally pissed off at life. When agitated they become enraged and want to hurt whoever is the source of their discontent, specifically, the people running in front of them. My thought process relative to animals goes like this. I would not mess with a mother bear. I would avoid approaching a moose in mating season. I always ask permission before approaching or attempting to pat a strange dog. In other words I act responsibly.
Let’s take a moment to add up things I dislike. I do not like to run. I avoid wet uneven surfaces even when walking. I would never trust or turn my back on a bull. Last Tuesday in this years running of the bulls three people were injured. Of course they were given medical treatment. Since 1924 (start of record keeping for this event) fifteen people have died from being gored. I wonder if the average medical plan cover injuries sustained in this type of activity? If a criminal was sentenced to participate in the running of the bulls, would this be classified as cruel and unusual punishment? Apparently thousands of seemingly intelligent people participate every year.
It is not that I do not have a little daredevil still left in me. I would do a brisk walk in the “running of the Pugs”. Sometimes at camp I won’t put on insect repellent even if the mosquitoes are bad. I have even been known to eat marshmallows raw, or drink pop at room temperature. I can be one wild and crazy guy.
As I see it, some things in life I will always avoid. Near the top of that list will be running: avoid wet and uneven surfaces and especially not messing with large angry bulls.