What’s It Like To Run With The Bulls? I Watched Someone Die.

It started with a call to my adventure pal Karch “Hey, how would you like to run in the oldest bull run in Spain in a month?” He replied “Absolutely not” and hung up. Ten minutes later I got a call from none other then Karch “How much?” and the rest is history.

We flew into Madrid Spain, him from SAN and me from PDX. We rented a 6 speed European sounding car brand and we were on our way to Madrid before the running of the bulls the next day in Cuellar about 1.5 hours north.

We spent the night drinking and making weird noises, eating weird food and made some great friends who we ended up meeting up with in Valencia later that week.

After a long night of poor choices on rooftop bars we poured into our rented car and began our journey to Cuellar. The trip took about 1.5 hours and I spent a lot of that time purposely making horrible shifts and grinding gears to make Karch laugh. shortly before we arrived it stopped shifting into 3rd gear.

We pulled into town with our 5 remaining gears and began to head towards the main street of the run, not thinking about the crowd. We ended up in the middle of a huge drunken fiasco with both young and old people yelling at us in Spanish, driving over broken bottles and trash and the occasional ‘how you doin” emanating from our car to the Spanish girls.

We turned up a side street and found a spot.

We left the car dressed in all white with our red bandannas on, basing our clothing purely off of what we remembered from TV.

We came onto the street we had just driven through and realised this was not the main bull run in spain, but the oldest. We were the only Americans there and managed to order a few beers to ignore how nervous we both obviously were. As we started drinking our second beer the gates on the streets began to close, obviously readying the road for the run.

We finished our beers and found a great corner to view both the bulls behind us and the path in front of us.

Bands passed, but slowly the streets became filled with only people dressed in white and red like us, stretching and preparing. We knew the time was almost upon us. We nervously talked until we heard someone yell and we knew the moment of truth was coming.

I will never forget the moment I first saw those bulls come snarling around the corner below us. Everything and everyone got immediately tense as they charged up the hill in a blitzkrieg tank formation, horns right at eye level when they bowed down to charge with blind fury.

I began pacing in place only focusing on the bulls. As they got close I looked around and I was the only one who hadn’t started running yet and was an easy target.

I began sprinting at a pace I believe has never been matched by a 230 lb man before, and the bulls were gaining.

My one goal was to lead the bulls and run well, to run with passion and accept that this bull run was like life, but today, I chose whether I lived or died.

In that moment with the bull catching up to me I opened my arms in front of the bull still running away from him as if to say bring it on and heard the crowd, which lined the entire street 5 people deep, cheer. From the corner of my eye I saw his horn and jockeyed to the right just in time while his horn grazed my shirt. I stood to the side while 5 bulls in a heard ran past me.

I was watching them in front of me now. I saw the lead bull charge toward the fence and a man sitting on top tried to get out of his way but was stuck with the gore right in his stomach and fell to the ground. I did not think anything of it at the time as I heard more screams and knew another group was coming.

The second group came and I ran well and made it all the way into the arena with this group. The arena made me feel like I was a roman gladiator as I helped the more experienced people wrangle the bulls into the pen. The arena was over 600 years old I later found out.

After we finally got them into the pin. The streets filled again with people, this time patting each other on the back and talking so animatedly and excitedly it felt like the town was alive and had a spirit in itself.

Karch and I had split up and I saw his dumb surfer head bobbing in the crowd and we ran up and high-fived and yelled our experiences.

We then went to the bar to celebrate and a few Spanish girls had heard us talking and began saying dirty, sexy things to us in English. I’m assuming they weren’t sure what they meant, but its always good to hear anyway.

We hopped in our now 5 speed car and headed back to madrid where we lost 5th gear on the way back.

We spent that night at a dance club until 6 am and decided to run with the bulls again the next day on no sleep, which is always smart.

We ran and had a decent run but nothing like the first day.

Later we found out the man who got goured did not make it.

We drove to Valencia Spain in our now 4 speed car and spent three more days living the life with our new friends.

And life was good.

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