Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No Bull: These Heavyweights are Swift Middle-Distance Runners

Yep, it's that time again, time for "El Encierro" (literally, "the enclosing") or, as it's more-commonly known, "The Running of the Bulls" at the Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain. This tradition dates back to the end of the 16th century. You might know that hundreds of young (and sometimes not-so-young men) try to outrun six bulls as they make their way from the corrals on the outskirts of town to the Plaza de Toros. What you might not know is how far and how fast these bulls run.

The course is 850 meters long. Today's encierro was covered by the bulls in a time of 2 minutes and 46 seconds, the equivalent of a 2:36 800m run, or a 5:14 mile. That's right, folks. These are 1,422 lb. bulls running at a pace that's faster than many well-trained high school middle-distance runners! It's no wonder that most people are unable to outrun the bulls and so they have to earn their rite of passage into manhood by nearly being trampled to death. And that's no bull.

Update: Anonymous has left a link to this website explaining that even Wilson Kipketer, the world record holder for 800m, couldn't beat the fastest bull. Amazing. Think about that the next time you consider trying to cut across a fenced-in pasture.

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