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Protesters charge ahead with plans for The Great Bull Run

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — No need to go to Spain:  The Great Bull Run will soon arrive in the United States.

The first event will be held at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie County.

“You get an adrenaline rush just thinking about it,” said thrill-seeker Kathy Pierce. “I have always enjoyed watching the highlights of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.”

She is excited that she soon gets to be part of the action and said she is aware of the dangers involved.

“I am aware of the dangers and to some degree that’s some of the thrill and excitement about it,” said Pierce. “It’s just a thrill to be able to participate here in the United States.”

While running alongside a stampede of bulls seems exciting, there’s been plenty of controversy surrounding the sport. People worry for the safety of participants, and health of animals. [BONUS: The Great Bull Run Event Guide]

CBS 6 spoke to organizers about those concerns, and asked if a runner’s safety was guaranteed.

“Oh no, we cannot guarantee safety for the runners, but the runners don’t want us to guarantee safety,” said Rob Dickens, Chief Operating Officer, Great Bull Run LLC.

“They want that danger; they want that thrill; they want that excitement that comes along with an event like this,” he added.

Dickens said he knows understands the controversial part of the Spanish tradition that critics call the tortuous and barbaric treatment of animals. He pointed out how they will make it safer for the bulls.

The bulls will not run on pavement and there will be no sharp turns on the course that bulls can’t navigate.

“We’ll have veterinarians on site at all times to make sure the bulls are being treated properly and that they are not being abused,” said Dickens.

This Saturday 8,000 people are expected to show up for the national event.  While half of them will be spectators, the other half will actually be running with the bulls. We’re told even more people could make their way to the track, including protestors.

The logistics will make management challenging for the county, who do expect protesters at the event.

“We have been contacted by one group we know is planning to come down,” said Major William Knott, Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s office. “We’ve talked to them – they expect to be peaceful in their protest,” Major Knott said.

Protesters will not be allowed on the track’s property.

“We want to be vigilant and maintain a level of security, so there won’t be any problems,” said Major Knott.

County Administrator Kevin Massengill toild CBS 6, they received a number of emails from the public, concerned over the safety of animals and participants.

But Massengill said  they’re fully aware of the event and reminds the public that it’s taking place on private property.

“We treat this like we do any other type of event,” he said.

“The responsibility really falls on the Virginia Motorsport Park, and we have been working with them,” said Massengill. “They have been very open with us all the way through the process.”

CBS 6 will be at the event, live-streaming. Set your calendar reminders and tune in if you won’t be able attend. 

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