'Bull Run' coming to Conyers

CONYERS -- A new kind of adrenaline rush is coming to Conyers.

In an event reminiscent of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, The Great Bull Run will make its Georgia debut this fall. The event, scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Georgia International Horse Park, will give area residents the opportunity to experience the thrill of running with the bulls without the same level of danger.

Rob Dickens, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run LLC, said Monday the event is an extension of other large-scale events his companies have sponsored that provide a bigger thrill than the usual road race.

As someone who has always wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Dickens said this event makes that experience more accessible without the time, travel, expense -- and risk -- involved.

The Great Bull Run will take place along a course constructed of barricades in the Grand Prix Stadium at the horse park. Dickens said a series of runs will take place throughout the day starting at 9 a.m.

In each running of the bulls, a combination of bulls and steers -- six in all -- will run through the course, with participants stationed at different points along the way ready to run alongside the bulls and steers.

"The runners are ultimately responsible for dodging the bulls when they come through, but we've taken additional measures to decrease the risk of injury and make this event accessible to everyone, not just the craziest thrill-seekers out there," said Bradford Scudder, co-founder of The Great Bull Run, in a press release. "The track fencing allows runners to climb over or slide under to avoid bulls and there are several nooks in the fence where runners can hide, but the most important thing is that the bulls we're using aren't the aggressive fighting bulls used in Spain; they'll simply run the track without seeking to attack people along the way."

Dickens said the bulls will have horns, but they won't be sharpened like the ones in the event in Spain.

Another key difference is that the bulls won't be killed in a bullfight following the run. According to event organizers, the health and safety of the animals is closely monitored by veterinarians specializing in large animals.

The Great Bull Run will be followed by Tomato Royale, a large tomato food fight that will be open to participants and spectators. Live music, festival games, food and beverages will also be part of the event.

A nine-city tour of The Great Bull Run is underway, with the first event taking place in April. Other cities on the tour include Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Jennifer Bexley, director of the horse park, said The Great Bull Run is another in the growing number of challenging events coming to the horse park.

Bexley said the park has seen a large increase in the number of "obstacle runs" coming to the facility.

"We were getting so many calls a couple of months ago for these obstacle runs ... we were having to turn some away because we couldn't fit them all in our calendar," she said.

While equestrian events will remain the bread and butter of the horse park, which hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic equestrian events, Bexley said the horse park is a multi-purpose facility that meets a variety of event needs. About 200 events are held at the park each year, she said, with 60 of those being equestrian events.

For more information go to www.thegreatbullrun.com or visit the horse park website at www.georgiahorsepark.com.

Ticket prices for The Great Bull Run will increase as the event date draws nearer, according to event organizers. Tickets range from $50 to $120 for runners, $25 to $45 for Tomato Royale participants and $20 for spectators. The festival is open to all ages. Runners must be 18 years or older with a valid government identification; Tomato Royale participants must be 14 or older.