Bull Run draws crowds and protesters

A huge crowd turned out to see the running of the bulls in Alameda County Saturday, but not all of them were happy to see the event make its debut.
A huge crowd turned out to see Northern California's running of the bulls in Alameda County Saturday, but not all of them were happy to see the event make its debut.

Hundreds of people all their best to get out of the way of more than two dozen, 1,500 pound bulls at the Alameda County Fairgrounds during the Great Bull Run.

"Exhilarating, I can't put into words that feeling brother, it was terrifying but amazing with adrenaline; I'll do it again," Redwood City resident Jakob Bleile said.

The Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale was a day-long festival designed to be a U.S. version of the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. This is the only bull run in Northern California.

"I turned 50 and I wanted to do running with the bulls in Spain and didn't make it so I thought I'd come out here and do it," Fairfield resident Pamela Davis said.

While 50 was impressive, 82-year old Vern Chatfield from Santa Clara was the oldest registered runner. He was an immediate sensation on the track.

Of the more than 700 racers on the track Saturday, the bravest jump in front of the bulls and take their chances. The rest of stood off to the side.

But not everyone thought the race was all fun and games.

"Exploitation is the problem and animals here are being exploited," Priya Sawhney said.

Sawhney is with the non-profit Direct Action Everywhere. She was among a group of demonstrators calling attention to what they say is the poor treatment of animals.

"This is not entertainment; this is violence, this is animal abuse and this situation forces animals, bulls into dangerous situations," Sawhney said.

"We give them plenty of great food, plenty of water, shelter, medical care, everything they could possibly need as a big old bull," Great Bull Run co-founder Rob Dickens said.

Dickens says its safety records show the runners, not bulls, are at greater risk of getting injured.

"If you're in the way, you get run over, if you're not in the way, you're pretty much fine," he said.

One runner learned that the hard way. He was taken to the hospital with neck, back and head injuries.
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entertainment alameda county animal running animal cruelty animal abuse distraction Pleasanton
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