Great Bull Run, Tomato Royale at Fairgrounds today

It's Americana version of Spain's world-renowned running of the bulls

The Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale come to the Alameda County Fairgrounds today, but the events are not for the faint-hearted or those with coveted clothes.

The thrilling, day-long festival appeals to runners and spectators alike for being an Americana version of the world-renowned Running of the Bulls, which has taken place in Pamplona, Spain for centuries, including earlier this month. This year marks the first time the event has come to the U.S., with Pleasanton and Los Angeles their only West Coast stops.

Both the Bull Run and tomato-tossing fest are unique forms of entertainment, designed explicitly for thrill-seeking and fun-loving individuals.

Co-founders of the organization that's bringing the bull run to the States, Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder, wanted Americans to experience and watch this time-honored Spanish event.

To make it more accessible and dynamic, they worked with entrepreneur Mark Cuban of Mark Cuban Companies famously investing in The Great Bull Run on the "Shark Tank" show on ABC in April. More than 25,000 participants turned out, including a 72-year old woman in Texas, with fans calling it "the thrill of a lifetime."

Dickens and Scudder believe the event is well on its way to being among the greatest of American festivals.

Here's how it will work in Pleasanton. Running with The Bulls is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today. Runners will experience the thrill of a lifetime as they enter a one-quarter-mile stretch of of the Fairground's horse track with two sets of 20 1,500-pound bulls who run at a clip of 35 miles per hour.

Dickens, who has run with the bulls a dozen times himself, insists that no sprint or running training is necessary to run with the bulls, just a heavy dose of courage, a willingness to grab life by the horns and a desire for the kind of rush that comes from doing something so unusual.

To add to the challenge, Dickens says he has ramped up the excitement factor by partnering with Lone Star Rodeo out of Crofton, Ky., to handpick the best and rowdiest bulls this side of the Atlantic. At the same time, he's decreased the risk of serious injury by providing course fencing for runners to climb and, most importantly, selecting bulls without sharpened horns like those in Spain.

There will be three different sessions for running with the bulls, but the thrill of the run is not cheap.

Pending availability, tickets will be available at the gate for $60. A ticket includes: one running with the bulls, one Tomato Royale food fight, access to the day-long festival featuring great music, tasty food, fun games and cold beer, and access to all spectator areas for both the bull run and the tomato fights. You must be 18 or older to buy a ticket and, of course, at least 21 to drink beer.

The tomato fight, by the way, doesn't start until 3 p.m. so that those who survive the bull run can join in. It's inspired by Spain's famous La Tomatina festival, which dates back to 1945. When the music starts, participants sprint to the massive mound of tomatoes piled in the center of the arena and the food fight begins. In this wild and friendly battle, it's every person for themselves as tomatoes are hurled at family, friends and strangers.

While Bull Run tickets include the tomato fest, you can also pay just $45 for this event alone. Spectators can watch it all from a safe distance next to the race track for just $10.

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Posted by Eric Mills
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Let's be honest, at least. The "inspiration" for this nonsense is MONEY.

Bulls and people alike are being put at risk of injury, even death, for no good reason.

People should be complaining to Animal Control, the Eastbay/Oakland SPCA, The City of Pleasanton, the Alameda County Fairgrounds, and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Eric Mills, coordinator

Like this comment
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm

While I am not sure what motivates people to participate in an event like this, I see no problem. It is a lot cheaper and safer than going to Spain which has bulls with long sharp horns. This event is probably better for the animals than the Livermore Rodeo, and they have not had problems there. While there might be some PETA people complaining, I will be there with PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Tomatoes).

Like this comment
Posted by Annie Mallover
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Ill: every movement has its lunatic fringe, even the Tomato Liberation Front. Thus, characterizing animal welfare partisans as PETAns is ridiculously simplistic. It is also so dismissive that it suggests that you don't want to even start to think about such things, because if you did, you'd just have to change your approach to how you treat our fellow species. And you'd rather not, cuz you enjoy a cheap steak.

There are many, many of us out there who Have made changes, and for whom comparing one barbarism with another pastime that's slightly less barbaric is an empty exercise. Both are 100% wrong. Even bum fights and dwarf tosses are better than this, in that those 'objects' do have at least some free will and freedom to choose not to participate in the idiocy.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm

(Removed because it is irrelevant)

Like this comment
Posted by Rebecca
a resident of Ponderosa
on Jul 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

And how many gallons of water will it take to clean up this mess???

Like this comment
Posted by liberalism is a disease
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Rebecca, you mean from the PETA protestors? They couldn't contain themselves......

Like this comment
Posted by Annie Mallover
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Thud. That's the sound of liberalism's joke, going over.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

This was clearly a blatant example of animal cruelty and greed. How pathetic that adults delight in the torture of innocent animals.


Like this comment
Posted by Ferdinand
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Even the civilized Spaniards in Barcelona have ruled against such shameful displays of animal cruelty.

Pleasanton reminds me of backward Southern towns in the 1950s. This is what you get when there isn't enough diversity within a city. People wear feathered headbands and think they're cute and acting like Native Americans; they charcoal their faces on Halloween because, hey, that's what black people look like; and here they torture bulls and waste good food because it makes them feel like they're Mexicans for a couple of hours. Sick. Bunch of hicks.


Like this comment
Posted by liberalism is a disease
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Ferdinand, you are full of bull. Take your whiny self righteous act down the road to Berserkely.

Like this comment
Posted by Ferdinand
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hey, Chumsly, thanks for confirming my point.

Like this comment
Posted by dorenatlt
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:15 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)

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