Running with the bulls is risky business.
But a local group with the mission of supporting community initiatives recently took part in a groundbreaking bull run that served to reinforce the team’s goals.
On Aug. 24, Kilmarnock Planning Commissioner Chris Allen, Chris’s wife Liz Allen and Chris Hathaway represented Team Lockdown in the Great Bull Run of Virginia, part of a nationwide series of events that brought the Spanish tradition of the running of the bulls to the United States.
Allen said they ran in the event, held at Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, to bring awareness to Team Lockdown’s focus on raising money for the Wounded Warriors project as well as local groups and events.
Team Lockdown recently sponsored and designed a Kekoka Mud Run course that will be held on Sept. 14 to benefit Camp Kekoka.
“Our focus is really here [in the Northern Neck], and it’s really starting to go that direction because of the youth groups,” said Chris.
The group spoke to kids at Macedonian Baptist Church in Heathsville.
“We had three or four requests from that encounter to talk to three or four different youth groups,” said Chris.
Chris noted that many of his team’s members are also correctional officers.
“We see and deal with those guys that made mistakes and we understand some of the dynamics of why they ended up there,” Chris said.
“We’re just trying to help the youth not make those same mistakes,” he added.
In boosting awareness of his group, founded Oct. 2011, Chris said Team Lockdown is participating in various races across and beyond the state, including the upcoming breast cancer 5K in Glen Allen on Oct. 5 and the Tough Mudder race.
“We’re just trying to do adventure races, things that are kind of out there and crazy,” said Chris. “It gives us a reason to stay in shape and try to motivate other people to do the same, and also we’re supporting great causes.”
In attending the Great Bull Run and other races, Chris said they talked to several people about what they were doing and the groups they were supporting.
“We said, ‘Hey! Let’s get down there and try to get some publicity for Team Lockdown as far as running it, for our Facebook page and some of the people that follow us,’” said Chris. “We had our team shirts on and told them what we were about…it was an eventful day and it was a good day.”
As for the bull run itself, Chris called it “a big adrenaline rush.”
He, Liz and Hathaway participated in the very last heat of the day, which consisted of over 500 runners. In the previous heats that day, Chris said 12 bulls were released first, followed by 12 more bulls 10 seconds later.
As part of the last group, the coordinators decided to release all 24 at once “to change it up a little bit.”
“They came around the corner, and….you just have these 24 bulls coming at you,” said Chris. “You feel the ground shaking a little bit because they were all in a pretty good trot at that point.”
“You didn’t know when [a bull] was going to turn and come at you or if it was going to bypass you, and then you just run with them,” said Chris, adding he that saw others get knocked out of the way, with some even having to go to the hospital for concussion-like symptoms from getting hit by the bulls.
“It was really fast. It was just an experience that you’ll never have ever again unless you actually run again,” said Chris. “There’s nothing else like it. The bulls are so big and powerful, and you kind of feel insignificant running with them. There’s no mercy almost.
“But it was an intense experience and an amazing thing to run with them,” he added.
While the core of Team Lockdown consists of members from Richmond and Lancaster Counties, Chris noted there were supporters from all over the world that were seen as part of the team, including people from as far away as Canada, Germany and even Australia.
“They do benefit races elsewhere and wear our team shirts to represent us,” said Chris. “It’s pretty cool how it’s grown since 2011.”
As a result of the growth, Team Lockdown is looking to obtain its nonprofit license some time this month.
For more information about Team Lockdown, visit the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TeamLockdownSite.