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Strathmore Chuck Wagons and Running with the Bulls

August 25, 2012

I was going through some pictures the other day, and I realized I completely forgot to fill y’all in about our adventure watching the Running with the Bulls and the chuck wagon races during the Strathmore Rodeo and Heritage Days!

Last year when we moved to Strathmore people were telling us all about this running with the bulls thing, and we were thinking “Huh? Did we move to redneckville? What’s this about?” Therefore this year we got tickets for the rodeo and for the chuck wagons and evening show.

We were fortunate and got some nice seats in the grandstand, in the shade for the evening’s performances, on a very hot Sunday afternoon!

The first thing we notice when we get to our seats are some massive ramps right in the middle of the chuck wagon racing tracks directly in front of the grandstand. The one ramp must have been three stories high and we’re like “What is this for, and what’s the deal?”

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And then the two dudes on motorcycles come out! NO WAY! They hit one ramp as a jump and they do stunts in the air and land on the other one. HOLY COW! They are totally and completely insane. people are just taking their seats and these guys are jumping and flying through the air! Absolutely unbelievable! So they put on a show of incredible stunts that I thought for sure was going to kill one of them for the first part of the evening! It was worth the price of the tickets alone!

Then they quickly clear out the ramps, and now we’ve got running with the bulls. Let me describe it briefly. They setup an inner ring, and an outer ring. They get about 80 people wearing pink t-shirts in between the rings, and then they let some bulls out to run around. The people are supposed to be doing stunts and trying not to get killed – too quickly. They run three sets of bulls – tame bulls, not so tame bulls, and downright mean and nasty bulls! And everyone runs around in circles acting like idiots and staying out of the way, or taunting the bulls and tempting fate.

Yep. It’s nuts. They are nuts. We’re all nuts for watching. But it’s intoxicating! You watch hoping someone will get hurt, but hoping someone won’t get hurt. Kind of like watching hockey – there to see your team win, but you really just want to see the fights! Strange strange stuff. Go to youtube and search for Strathmore running of the bulls, and you’ll be shaking your head.

After the bulls, they clear out the rings, and here comes the chuck wagons. I must admit, I think it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve watch chuck wagon races, so we were pretty pumped to see it all! Unfortunately it takes the track guys close to 40 minutes to get the starting stuff setup, because everything is measured precisely, and they couldn’t find their markers. So after a long wait, here comes the chuck wagons.

There’s like 9 races, of four chuck wagon teams each. And each team has outriders (cowboys on horses, who have to load the chuck wagon, and race along with them. It is fast! It is fun, and you can hear and feel those horses working! It was incredible watching these riders work with their teams and coax every last bit of energy out of each of them. The race is once around the track, but it takes a long time to get through a race. They go barreling past the finish line, but you can’t just stop on a dime, they keep going about a half way around the track still, and then they come all the way back, doing kind of a victory lap, each parades by in the order they placed, and perhaps through some t-shirts or something into the crowd.

The actual race takes only a couple of minutes, but you can count on about 10-12 minutes from the start of one race to the start of the next – so there’s a LOT of downtime. Great time to visit with your neighbours, buy a 50-50 ticket, or pick up some food. Oh yes, and every three races they clean up the starting area, which probably takes about 10 minutes.

All in all it was a very nice evening, just weird watching people with the bulls, and the chuck wagon races drag a little bit.

Next year, if you’re around on the August long weekend, make your way down to Strathmore – it’s a fantastic way to spend your weekend!

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