ERX to host running of the bulls

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

The Great Bull Run is coming to Elk River.

Bulls thundered down the course at The Great Bull Run in Virginia. A similar event is coming to Elk River in June.

Bulls thundered down the course at The Great Bull Run in Virginia. A similar event is coming to Elk River in June.

The event was to be held Saturday, May 10, at Elk River Extreme Motor Park, but the event organizers announced Thursday that they are rescheduling it to June 21.

“Due to the abnormally cold winter throughout the country this year, we’ve made the difficult decision to reschedule the Twin Cities Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale to better ensure that there’s plenty of warmth and sunshine for our attendees,” said Rob Dickens, chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run LLC.

Anyone who can no longer attend the rescheduled date will be issued a refund, Dickens said.

The Boston-based company will also be featured on ABC TV’s “Shark Tank” on April 25, resulting in national exposure for the events it runs.

The Great Bull Run is modeled after the famous San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain.

Launched in April 2013, The Great Bull Run has a 10-city schedule that began last August in Virginia with 12,000 festival attendees.

Tomatoes flew through the air during a Tomato Royale, which is part of the daylong event planned in Elk River.

Tomatoes flew through the air during a Tomato Royale, which is part of the daylong event planned in Elk River.

Each event features multiple runnings of the bulls throughout the day followed by Tomato Royale, a tomato food fight with thousands of participants. The event also includes music, festival games, food and beer.

The Elk River City Council voted Monday to approve a special event permit for the event.

The bull run will be organized into several runs of up to 600 participants each who will station themselves along the quarter-mile-long, fenced track and wait for the bulls to come to them. The bulls will sprint down the track, running through the crowd on the way to the finish.

Professional bull handlers will be stationed along the course to supervise the run and medical staff will be on site in case of injuries.

The track fencing allows runners to climb over or under to avoid bulls, and there are nooks where runners can hide. Additionally, the bulls don’t have sharpened horns like the ones in Spain, Dickens said.

After the event, the bulls will return to a ranch. No bulls have been injured in the events, he said.

Is running with the bulls safe?

“Of course not,” according to a Q-and-A on The Great Bull Run’s website. “Much like rock climbing, mountain biking, skydiving and other extreme sports, running with live bulls is an inherently dangerous activity (which is why it’s so thrilling). By participating in the run, you accept the risk that you might be trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull, or bumped, jostled, tripped or trampled by your fellow runners.”

People must be 18 or older to participate in the bull run and 14 or older to be in the Tomato Royale. Tickets are available online at www.thegreatbullrun.com/events/mn2014 and at the gate on the day of the event. Ticket prices increase over time, ranging from $50-$70 for runners, $30-$45 for Tomato Royale participants and $10 for spectators. The festival is open to all ages.

The overall event is expected to draw 10,000 to 15,000 people, according to Heidi Goodin, of ERX Motor Park.

The Great Bull Run contacted ERX about renting the ERX Motor Park for the event and is handling all aspects of the bull run, Goodin said.

Dickens said ERX Motor Park, located along Highway 169, has a great facility that’s perfect for The Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale, and Elk River’s proximity to Minneapolis made it a very attractive locale.

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