My last project this summer with Campeys was completed in Budapest, Hungary. It was very successful, with more than 40 turf professionals coming out to see our pitch renovation. The Hungarian Football Association was there as well.
For the first time in my short career, and hopefully not the last, I gave a presentation to those attending about why you should renovate a pitch (Poa annua, thatch, safety, etc.) and the process we use. It went as well as it could have for my first time speaking about turf.
After Budapest, I traveled alone to Barcelona, Spain, and found a nice place to stay close to Barceloneta beach. On Sunday, I boarded a train up to Pamplona, a town in the northeast of Spain. Every year from July 6-14, Pamplona holds the Running of the Bulls, where participants from all over the world come to be chased down a street by six bulls, every day of that week! One person who was there described it to me as "better than Mardi Gras in New Orleans". It turns the town into one big party for a week straight.
Runners packed in near the starting line.
The whole town shows up to watch.
Most runners end up with minor scrapes and bruises, but the possibility of serious injury and even death is there. Four people had been gored during one of the early runs. The hard part about the run is you have to have stamina, be able to watch the bulls behind you while not tripping over the runners who might fall ahead of you. During my run, I jumped over more than one person on the ground. It is also very physical, as you have to jockey for position with other people.
In the photo, I am wearing the traditional white outfit and red bandana of the runners.
Knowing when to stop running and jump out of the way is another key here. You must also be wary that the bulls don't always run together, therefore, a few might pass you, but watch out because there are more coming behind you. I knew there were six bulls running going into it, so I counted in my head as they went by. I got to a point where I thought I counted that all six flew past me, so I slowed down. It might have been the chaos or just my exhaustion from running, but I miscounted and two bulls were right behind me in an instant. I went into a dead sprint and was able to get to safety off to the side of the course. The closest they ever got to me was probably 3-4 yards, and that was plenty close enough.
Cameras line the course. It is shown live on TV every day throughout Spain.
Everyone gathers after the run to watch the replay.
Right after we finished, ambulance sirens pierced the air as we gathered around the local pub to watch a replay. Two people had been gored during my run. Luckily, paramedics were quickly on the scene, and, from what I have read, thankfully the two people survived.
A well-deserved beer after my run.
In the quickest bull run of the week (2 min. 12 sec), two were gored and many others had bruises, cuts, and headaches. It was a physically demanding run, but an experience I will never forget and hope to do again. Hopefully, next year!