A cool chill swept through the crowd of 1,000 gathered on a street in Pamplona on a humid Sunday morning. We weren’t in church, yet prayers could be heard as 12 massive bulls were getting ready to run through a sea of white and red-attired tourists. I looked over at my friend Reilly and casually said, “Here we go.”
Bang! The cannon erupted, signaling that the bulls had been released from their pen and were now running full-speed with nothing but humans in their path. I looked at the faces around me and felt the reality of the situation I had signed up for. I was about to run with the bulls, and there was no escaping this street where inevitably somebody was about to be gored, possibly to death.
I never heard the ring of the bell tied around the lead bull’s neck, but camera flashes down the street signaled that things were about to get real. Survival quickly became the paramount objective as I tried to run, but the mob of people in front of me made it impossible to sprint. I turned around to see three massive bulls on a mission for blood. Sensing danger, I started to weave through the crowd and toward the Plaza De Toros, the bull-fighting arena otherwise known as the finish line. With bull horns racing toward my fleshy body, I instinctively darted to the right and jumped on the fence just in time to avoid becoming a human-kebab.
The goal of the run, for the ultimate thrill-seekers, is to run with the bulls through the street and into the Plaza De Toros. The only rule is that you need to enter the arena after the first bull and before the last bull, a small window to say the least. As the first pack of bulls passed me, I sensed my chance and jumped off the fence back into the madness. A massive black bull darted past me as I landed; close enough to touch if I wanted to.
With adrenaline coursing through my veins I ran with the great black beast toward the alley, the narrow corridor connecting the street and the Plaza. I watched in horror as the massive black bull lowered its head and gored a man right in front of me. It was like watching my dog play with a toy, only on a larger and much deadlier scale. With bulls in front of me and charging behind me, I didn’t have time to wait around. I jumped over the fallen bodies in front of me on my way into the Plaza, just seconds before the next wave of bulls came crashing through the alley.
As I entered the sold-out coliseum to the cheers of the crowd I couldn’t help but feel like a gladiator in ancient Rome. I had played Russian roulette and won, though I don’t think I’ll be pulling the trigger again anytime soon. Running with bulls was easily the craziest 3 minutes of my life, but I survived and conquered one of the deadliest games known to man. Now on to the next adventure.