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article imageRunning of the Balls becomes major event in Spanish town (Video)

By Anne Sewell     Sep 27, 2014 in World
Mataelpino - As opposition grows in Spain to annual events involving the torture and killing of bulls, novel alternatives are coming to light, including an event recently held in Mataelpino near Madrid, called “Boloencierro” or the “Running of the Balls."
Spanish locals run to escape huge 125 kilogram (or 275 lb) polystyrene balls and children run with smaller versions, instead of their beefier counterparts.
The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment (PETA) is now hoping that this idea will catch on in the rest of Spain.
Mataelpino is a small village of 1,700 residents close to Spain’s capital and is the first location for the new event, the “Running of the Balls.” Calling it “boloencierro”, a term which combines the Spanish for bowling ball together with part of the term for the original running of the bulls, this fun event involves participants running as fast as they can down the sloping streets of the village, followed closely by the massive polystyrene balls, rolling behind them and picking up speed as they go.
Apparently news of this event in the Spanish media has seen Mataelpino increase their tourism numbers and has caused PETA to start promoting the idea around the country.
Mimi Bekhechi, president of PETA, explained the story behind the original bull runs, saying that the animals are tortured and then killed in the bullring after running through the streets. She added that often people are gored while running, or trampled to death by the bulls. As an alternative, she said the “Boloencierro" is good family fun and a great alternative to bullfighting and bull runs, which are becoming unpopular with more and more Spaniards as time goes by.
In fact the animal rights group is so impressed with the whole idea of the new event, they have offered to pay all costs of holding similar events in any town in Spain, as long as that town ditches all the more traditional events involving bulls.
Pamplona is well known internationally for the San Fermin “Running of the Bulls,” and is probably unlikely to change in the near future, but other villages and towns throughout Spain and Portugal also host their own versions. The idea has also caught on in some South American countries. In many cases, there is no official age limit for entries into the event and casualties and series injuries are a common occurrence, besides the horrendous treatment received by the bulls themselves.
With opposition growing all over Spain to events involving the torture and killing of bulls, PETA hopes that eventually this cruel practice will die out. As can be seen in the video above filmed by Jorge Lopesino, the alternatives can be a whole load of fun with people having a rolling good time, in fact, quite literally, having a ball.
More about boloencierro, Mataelpino, running of the balls, Madrid, Spain
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