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Bulls By The Horn

Houston's own running of the bulls takes a surprise turn: Protecting the beasts?

The Great Bull Run
Thanks to a potent cold front, Houston thrill-seekers will have to wait another month to run with the bulls in Baytown. The Great Bull Run/Facebook

You'd think it would take more than inclement weather to cancel an event dedicated to outpacing a herd of 1,500-pound bulls and pelting strangers with tomatoes.

But alas, Houston's inaugural Great Bull Run festival on Saturday has been postponed until January thanks to a cold front projected to blast southeast Texas with freezing rain and temperatures below 40 degrees.

“We didn’t make this decision lightly," event director Rob Dickens said in a statement. "But when faced with a real threat of hypothermia for our bulls and our event attendees it was the only prudent course of action."

 "Faced with a real threat of hypothermia for our bulls and our event attendees it was the only prudent course of action." 

The bull run has already been rescheduled. On Jan. 25, two dozen trained bulls will run through Baytown's Royal Purple Raceway, turning a quarter-mile dirt track into a makeshift Pamplona — the Spanish city which hosts the famed Running of the Bulls during its annual San Fermin celebration.

The Great Bull Run website assures attendees that only 15 deaths have been recorded at the original century-old event . . . roughly one fatality every seven years.

Unlike their Spanish counterparts, Great Bull Run organizers stress that their animals don't end the day at a bullfight. The American bulls run only on dirt or grass to prevent injuries and have been trained in advance to maneuver through large crowns of humans. A veterinarian remains on site at all times to monitor the health and treatment of the animals.

Another Spanish import called the Tomato Royale will follow the bull run in Baytown. It's modeled on the outdoor tomato food fight that takes over the small town of Buñol each August.

Tickets remain for three of six bull run sessions on Jan. 25. Prices start at $50 for runners and $35 Tomato Royale participants. Spectators can watch from the sidelines for $10. The Great Bull Run website has more details and tickets.

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