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Running of the Bulls unleashes Pensacola Roller Gurlz
Warning: The Bulls are getting stronger.
They're doing pushups. Pull-ups. They're lifting weights and flexing muscles.
What's that mean for you? Well, if you're one of the hundreds who will participate in the fourth annual Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola Running of the Bulls on Saturday, prepare to be bruised.
Unlike the legendary Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, the Pensacola version consists of beautiful beasts with frightening names such as Kimikal Imbalance, Legz-ecutioner and Smacker Jack Suzie on roller skates hunting white-and-red clad runners through the streets, whacking their prey with club-sized plastic baseball bats. The event is presented by Seville Quarter, where the Bull Run begins.
"Any tension and anger we have, we take it out on the people and they beg for it," said Sharon Hicks, known as "Legz-ecutioner." "The people have fun, and we have a blast."
Hicks, a 40-year-old mother of four children, is a member of the Pensacola Roller Gurlz, a roller derby team that will provide "the bulls" for the event. Saturday's "Running of the Bulls" comes the day before the Pensacola Roller Gurlz compete in a roller derby match against Rolling Arsenal of Derby, an Alabama roller derby team, at Dreamland Skate Center on Olive Road.
Don't think the "Gurlz" are just a bunch of skate kids who are trying to bring their love of the rink into their adult lives. No, the "Gurlz" are athletes, practicing three times a week for matches and public events such as the Running of the Bulls.
"It's hardcore," said Kim Medina — Kimikal Imbalance — after an evening workout with the team at Razor's Edge Fitness in downtown Pensacola. "There's a lot of work to it."
Medina is outside the gym cooling off after an intensive workout that included pushups, pullups, stretching exercises and more.
"We work hard, and we train hard," Medina said. "We work for it."
Hundreds of bull targets will pay $25 to run with the bulls along a 2-mile downtown course, with Pensacola Roller Gurlz situated along the route with their plastic bats, waiting to pounce.
"I did it last year, and it was a blast," said Nick Thames, 32, of Pensacola. "They were everywhere. You'd go around a corner and you'd have these girls on skates coming out of nowhere with baseball bats."
Thames got his butt batted a few times.
"It stings," he said. "They're not kidding around."
But the annual event is a chance for the Roller Gurlz to dish it out without having to take it. But no worries. They get their bumps and bruises during the matches.
Medina broke her ankle last year during a match. Hicks has a displaced collarbone, knee injuries and bumps and bruises "that will never go away."
"They're roller derby trophies," she said of her injuries.
So why does she do it?
"It's totally bad ass."
Want to go?
• WHAT: Fourth annual Fiesta de San Fermin en Pensacola Running of the Bulls.
• WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday.
• WHERE: Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.
• COST: $25. Runners are asked to wear all white with red kerchiefs to distinguish them from non-participating spectators. The first 300 registered participants will receive a St. Fermin bandana.
• DETAILS: 434-6211 or visit www.sevillequarter.com.