Pensacola – Residents in Pensacola, Florida have adapted their own version of Running with the Bulls somewhat less dangerous than frolicking with real bulls in the streets of Pamplona, Spain, that weigh about as much as a Volkswagen. Less dangerous if the sight of a seemingly crazed woman who may or may not resemble one’s old girlfriend screaming and skating while twirling what appears to be a baseball bat in the air doesn’t rattle the nerves. But the bats are plastic, the attitudes hopefully put on, and it’s all a mock up of the Spaniards tradition of becoming actual human doormats for real raging bulls, an event that PITA and most local health departments in the U.S. would likely frown on. The idea was inspired by New Orleans’ similar annual Running of the Bulls. That event took place last weekend and drew several thousand runners.
The event, new to Pensacola, drew a good sized crowd and for that matter, some good sized ladies that looked pretty spooky as they swooped on their victims swinging hard and laughing wildly as they spanked their mostly male prey. The event, sponsored by the Seville Quarter of Pensacola, involved about 75 skaters from area roller derby clubs who skated fast and hit hard against the backsides of “victims” who dressed in white. Those hunted are released on Government Street ahead of the screaming divas who wore red T-shirts, short shorts and long red horns on their heads. Ashley Platts, 25, swung her bat without mercy. Platts is a member of the Emerald Coast Roller Derby Club and co-founder of the Pensacola event. She’s got experience dishing out punishing swats. “I was part of the Running of the Bulls in New Orleans this past weekend, and it was pure insanity. Thousands of people showed up to get beaten by roller derby girls,” Platts said. "The objective is to promote the sport of roller derby while having some fun. Platts has a warning for those who think a Wiffle bat can’t do damage: “Come prepared to get hit good and hard.” The event is part of The Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola, which celebrates Pensacola’s Spanish history and culture.
Jack Williams, co-founder of the event and general manager of Seville Quarter, said the idea came after he and Pensacola resident Michael Bowen participated in the New Orleans run last year. “We were just talking about it, looked at each other, and we were like, ‘Hey, we can do this, too.’ So we started going forward with it in November,” Williams said. Runners started at Seville Quarter and followed a path that’s less than one mile, barely enough for Bowen to break a sweat, he said.