‘The Great Bull Run Chicago’ Recap

2013 PWP Studio Event Photographers

I’m writing a recap of ‘The Great Bull Run’ so SPOILER ALERT! I survived.

The event happened on Saturday at Hawthorne Racecourse in Stickney, just outside of Chicago, and the weather decided to make things interesting by having a monsoon all night long, and into the late morning hours. Luckily, the rains let up just in time for the first race, and we didn’t have to worry about dodging rain drops and bulls.

Full disclosure, I did receive media credentialed participation for this event, but my opinions are totally my own. The entry was rather pricey to participate (upwards of $60 to participate in both the Bull Run and Tomato Royale food fight) and participants were given a T-shirt and red bandana along with a beer ticket and the glory that is running with the bulls. Spectators and Tomato Royale only participants, had a reduced fee, and kids under 13 were allowed in for free.


Is my hair okay? I want to look my best when I’m trampled.

Now I’m sure the festival was lame because we were dodging huge walls of rain all day, and the weather effected the energy a lot. I also saw that a lot of people were wondering whether the event was going to be postponed or not via The Great Bull Run Facebook Page. Some of the weather was severe at times, so even I wondered if they were going to call it or not. It would have been nice if the organizers would have updated the participants. $60-$75 is a lot of money to have people left in limbo. Kids being allowed in for free was great, only there was nothing for them to do. No games, no food, nothing for them to really do but stand on the sidelines and watch. Again, maybe the weather affected this, I have no idea.

The ‘runs’ took place on the track, and I don’t know why I had this idea that I would be trotting along with mild mannered dairy cows, but I did. No big whoop, you just go on the track, they run by, and you jog alongside them.

The ‘heat’ was set up with a group of people to run with the bulls over 1/4 mile of the track. Three waves of bulls were to be released and you were to wait until the bulls passed you, then run with them, but watch your back, because more bulls were coming.

I’m still thinking these are dairy cows. So whatever. I’m not scared, bro! Let’s DOOOO THISSSS!

I was in the second heat at 11:30am so I got to watch the first one go down. First the announcer tells you that if you fall…stay down. Do not try to get up. Just let the bulls jump over you.

Now my spidey sense was tingling. Wait a minute! Bulls don’t really ‘jump’ do they? They mostly just like trample things, right? So while you want me to have the false sense of security that I will be jumped over by a bull with the finesse of a gazelle, I will probably have the choice of being trampled or gored.


Now I’m getting a little nervous…

The first wave of bulls gets released, and WAIT A MINUTE…these are not dairy cows! These are big, giant bulls! Holy crap! What did I sign up for! Then in the second wave of bulls, one bull goes rogue and heads for the fence where you’re supposed to be out of harms way!

What in the world did I just sign up for? Besides certain death, of course.

I could not get my knees to stop shaking as I walked to the track. I was playing all kinds of scenarios in my head of what terrible things were going to happen to me as I stood there, ankle deep in mud as three rounds of bulls barreled toward me. So I made the tactical decision to find the biggest, dumbest, group of day drunk, overzealous frat guys and use them as a human shield. They’ll do something like jump in front of the bull, which will give me time to climb the fence to safety.

Which is exactly what happened.


First wave done! That was no big deal at all. I got this.

The first wave of bulls was no big deal. They did their thing, and it was scary/fun. Then something happened, and the second wave of bulls ended up being both the second and third wave of bulls combined, so it was about 7 bulls running at you, taking up most of the width of the track.

Hell naw. I jumped up on that fence like Spiderman. No way.



Then there was a rogue bull who was just running around in circles at the end of the track, and no one quite knew what to make of it. Eventually he was corralled and the run was over. It lasted all of three minutes.

I have a lethal tomato allergy, so I skipped outta there before the Tomato Royale.

I don’t think I would do it again. It seems like a lot of money for a rather disorganized event. Local 5ks are better run. I will give a lot of the fault to the rain and the bad weather, but it just seemed like a giant money maker. Not really an ‘adventure’ experience.

PETA was also protesting on the corner when we left, which made me feel guilty. Do I think this is animal cruelty? Not really. They live a nice life on a pasture most days of the year. It’s not like they’re doing this every weekend. They do a total of 15 minutes of ‘work’ a handful of times a year. I’m generally a supporter of PETA, but this was nitpicking.

So if you are an adrenaline junky willing to have 3 minutes of thrills for $60, then this is the event for you. Me personally, I’d rather ride a Ferris Wheel or something. But I got the T-shirt!