Running with the bulls is among the last truly democratic activities. Nearly all are welcome. You needn’t fill out any forms, or stand in any line. There is no permission slip or waiver. There is no qualification round. And, only your mother (girlfriend?) can tell you can’t run.
Subject to three (3) minor eligibility requirements, there are no other qualifications.
First, are you a human being?
If so, are you able to get out of bed around, at least, 7 a.m.?
Third, are you moderately sane?
If so, you are allowed to run.
At the beach, everyone is allowed to wear a bathing suit. Many should not.
Equally, within the teeming mass of eligible bull runners, there are many that should not run. The Philadelphia Peña and Taurino Club breaks down this group into these distinct categories.
The first group is known as “ Dennis Rodman.” In past years, Dennis Rodman has been seen “running” while shilling for a not-to-be-mentioned-here-gambling-website. These folks are not getting their monies worth, because by the time the first bull leaves the paddock, Rodman has run into the bullring, climbed over the wall, left, had a drink, talked to some women, packed, and is half-way over the Atlantic. So, if you have left the course before even seeing a bull, you are a Dennis Rodman. And, you have too many tattoos. And hepatitis.
“Champagne Poppers” nervously stand in the street, and start running at the slightest sound, including but not limited to, champagne corks being popped in the balconies along Calle Estafada. “Was that the rocket?” they shriek. No, someone had the burritos, and you should try running tomorrow without the coffee.
“Flinchers & Prayers” at least wait for the bulls, but do not run. Instead, a the bulls pass, they stand still (maybe against a wall or doorway) and look away like they’ve just seen Dennis Rodman naked. Simultaneously, they pray they don’t make the evening news.
As the bulls pass, these runners (known as “Ouch, my groin.”) instinctively cover their groin with their hands as the bulls pass. This is a never ending source of enjoyment for me personally. Most doctors agree (as they replace your mangled hand with a hook) that in case of a bull groin goring, your hands will delay the explosion of your testicles for only about a second. So, you’ll be a eunuch and a pirate.
The next group run while wearing costumes. The “Mascots” run in their Darth Vader mask or their Superman cape. Once, I saw a dude trying to ran naked, which is really the anti-costume. Either way, thanks for that memory. Regardless, if you feel the need to wear an outfit, you are likely missing the message of la fiesta, which (for reasons I should need to explain) does not involve dressing up like Bart Simpson, Ella Fitzgerald, or Harry Potter. Perhaps you were looking for Brazil’s Carnival, or perhaps you’re a moron.
“Backpackers,” ever fearing theft, attempt to run with their backpacks. In this, their instinct for financial preservation exceeds their instinct for life. Frankly, you’re not allowed to do this, and no one wants your hemp pants, your Grateful Dead t-shirt, or your German passport anyway.
“Photographers” fail to understand the danger of the entire event, and attempt to complicate matters with their Junior College Photography Competition. Taking pictures while running is illegal, and, stupid. But, if that was not enough, it endangers everyone around you. I will personally pay you $5 for every picture snipping moron that that you trip. Before or after the run.
“Funny Shirt Man” wears some distinct shirt (like a Cub’s jersey) in case he is photographed, or seen on television, while running. Such distinctive clothing dramatically increases the dunce-ness of such runners, who should be mocked without mercy.
At the moment of truth, “climbers” channel the spirit of Sir Edmund Hillary, who is dead. Bringing their own Sherpa, this group climbs a door or barrier or gate or lamppost at the first scent of hoof. Friends, this is not running with the bulls. This is watching others run with the bulls slightly below a balcony.
Finally, there are those that appear in the street for the “Running with the Steers.” After the bulls have run, they are tucked away under the ring for a nap before their eventual demise later that afternoon. Several “cabestro” (spanish for “used to be a bull”) then run down the street course for one final clear out. These castrated prancers with tinkling bells wouldn’t step on you if you threw yourself down in front. Nevertheless, the least noble and brave of revelers seem compelled to jump in and run like it’s the Miura on a Sunday morning. It’s not. If you know this, and still run for fun, that’s fine. If you are actually frightened by the castrated bull, you should receive “equal treatment” with a rusty saw.
So, if you find yourself in one of these groups, give us a call and we can recommend a good balcony lessor for you.
On other hand, if you get between those horns for just a moment – en los cuernos – you are forever welcome to stand among the noble y bravo, and tell anyone who’ll listen for the rest of the day.
Peter N. Milligan, Founder, The Philadelphia Peña and Taurino Club