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Running with the bulls in Cave Creek Arizona

Sedona AZ (October 21, 2011) – Civil engineer and architect Brent Maupin was enjoying a quiet Sunday breakfast when he remembered a news story from the night before. It had been about a Cave Creek Arizona bull run event. Today was its last day. Maybe he should go?

Maupin traveled to Spain twice, once in 1972 and again in 2007, and like many young men influenced by the romance of Cervantes Spain, he had imagined running with the bulls in Pamplona impressing crowds and pretty senoritas with his courage and agility. Unfortunately no running with the bulls opportunity ever presented itself on either trip but such is life.

Contemplating the Sunday ahead, in the bright morning sunshine of middle-age, Maupin revisited the youthful daydream of Pamplona and then returned to the present. Weeds needed to be pulled and a front door seal replaced and, if time allowed, an afternoon hike after completing the solar project.

Or he could grab the bull by its horn!

Cave Creek might not be Pamplona but it was opportunity. Thirty minutes later, Maupin was driving down to the Valley of the Sun to run with the bulls in America.

After the event promoter did not meet its indemnity request, the official town of Cave Creek refused to sanction the bull run. However, the unofficial town of Cave Creek, its stores, bars and restaurants were thrilled to cater to the thousands of wallets attending the event. Road signs advertised Bull on a Bun, Bull Run Beef, Bull Burgers and Bull Ya Folks – We’re Open Until 10 PM. Roadside vacant lots advertised event parking as entrepreneurs collected fees from portable tabletops.

There was ample free parking near the event grounds so Maupin parked and was quickly approached by a man on a pedicycle offering 1/4 mile rides to the gate for $1.

“No thanks, buddy, it’s right there and I enjoy walking,” Maupin answered and walked on. The pedicyclist was undeterred. “C’mon, man, you gotta help me out here. I’m trying to earn a little bit in this lousy economy.” A minute and a half later, Maupin was deposited at the event’s gate. He handed over more than the quoted price.

Registering for the bull run included signing a waiver in case of injury. No exceptions, the registrar explained. Once again, this time in the bright light of the hot desert sun, Maupin reexamined his Pamplona daydream.

That EMS truck parked near the bull pens expected business. The earthy smells of the arena brought back fond childhood memories of the family ranch followed by a long forgotten memory of a rodeo fall that left him with a yearlong ache in his hip. But that was then and this was now.

He finished the paperwork. Handing Maupin race credentials, the registrar said, “There are two races this afternoon. Take your choice or run in both.” Curious what to expect, Maupin strode purposely toward the arena.

Fearless in the face of twenty stampeding bulls, Runner #669 grabbed the horn and then the tail of one thundering by and held on for precious seconds as both raced together, side by side. The television cameras captured it all. Runner #669 besting a bull. Agile, courageous, skillful. The crowd roared its approval.

The excitement of new arrivals was palpable as the arena announcer barked information. People milled about the grounds, many watching the arena’s big screen as it repeatedly showed the first run. Nervousness replaced jocularity as the runners queue to line up was given.

Some runners were in costumes. There was a Thing One and a Thing Two, a Spiderman and painted bodies that read “Not me, HIM!” underscored with an arrow pointing right or left. Many dressed in traditional bull running garb of white shirt, black pants and a red neckerchief and mingled with the tattooed, the after church, the significant others, the cowboys and cowgirls and cowpokes.

Horseback riders escorted the second race runners into the arena and pointed out safety exits for emergency use. “Protect your heads and bodies from the horns and hooves at all times!” and “Never take your eyes off the bulls and other runners!” was sage advice repeated over and over.

Minutes later it was time to report for the race. Walking to the start line, the runners sized up the penned bulls and the bulls sized up the runners. A few racers had a change of heart and were seen joining the crowd jockeying for a good view.

Fifteen minutes later the starter pistol fired. The crowd cheered and gasped as runners dodged, horses reared, and bulls surged. Runners raced for fences or ran pall mall. Bulls snorted and butted through the crowded field as they sensed the fear and excitement of the arena.

And then it happened. Runner #669 tangled with a bull and went down to screams from the crowd. His cowboy hat disappeared under pounding hooves and for several seconds he was trampled. The runners around him did not stop. The bulls did not stop. The rules of engagement were in play. Another runner grabbed Runner #669’s cowboy hat out of the dust and laid claim to it as he ran by.

Slowly Runner #669 found his footing and the crowd cheered. Bent over and limping, he began to walk then run to the finish line. The television cameras captured it all. The bloodied hands, elbows and arms caked with dirt. The leg and thigh injuries that promised heavy bruises but no broken bones, no horn pierced body parts.

Runner #669 refused medical aid. He’d clean up later.

The door seal would be fixed and the weeds pulled after the ripped skin and bruises healed. Tomorrow Runner #669 would share his story with family and friends about a Sunday afternoon running with the bulls. After all, it had been a day of making a dream come true.

Viva Maupin!

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  1. Athena Reich, NYC and Sedona visitor says:

    Athena Reich of NYC likes this story!

  2. Jack and Anne Hallman says:

    We enjoyed this! Congrats for taking a chance and going for the gusto. Inspiring.

  3. Eddie Maddock says:

    Way to go, Brent Maupin. Maybe you might consider that as a seasoning session to face the mob of Bumble Bees who endlessly run amok in West Sedona.Quite frankly, I’d prefer the bulls. LOL

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