Goat Dropping – Alicante, Spain

The world has many interesting sports such as Bog-snorkelling, Conkers, Egg-and-Spoon Racing, and Sack Racing. Sports the Olympics Forgot describes 40 more sports in a similar vein, all of which haven’t started yet.

All the stories are individual and distinct and can be read independently if necessary; a book for the busy individual who perhaps has five minutes to spare to understand the complexities of Bull Pulling or Unicycle Volleyball.

None of these sports should be attempted at home; the best way to research these sports further would be to find the relevant sporting associations on the Internet and contact them. These associations would also be able to put you in touch with like-minded individuals.


In the past in Spain it has been customary for people to drop goats from church spires as part of the celebration of a saint’s festival. Nowadays, because of animal rights such events no longer take place but a vestige of the practice can be found in Alicante in August when the Goat Dropping contest takes place in the town.


The Goat Dropping is a marathon event that involves ten churches in the town. The idea is that all the contestants must run up the spires of all the towers and drop a weight from each open window into a bucket at the bottom of the tower. The weights are still called Goats even today. There are five buckets that the competitors can land their goats in and they vary in size. The largest is five yards in diameter and is situated 1 yard from the base of the tower. The next largest is four yards in diameter and is situated 7 yards from the base of the tower. The smallest of the buckets is 1 yard in diameter and is situated twenty yards from the tower. Contestants receive 1 point for landing their goat in the largest bucket, 3 points for landing the goat in the second largest bucket, and this scoring system continues in a similar vein with finally 9 points being awarded for landing the goat in the smallest bucket.


Contestants all start at the same church at intervals of five minutes to avoid congestion in some of the narrower towers. Not only do contestants drop weights from each window in the tower, but they drop them from the top of the tower too. Once a contestant has dropped all their weights they have to scamper down the steps and run as fast as possible to the next church. However, obstacles are placed in their path to make life difficult for them. These obstacles are called bulls and they increase in size as the race progresses. A six-month old bull guards the second church whereas a 550-kilo monster bull guards the tenth and final church. Contestants can’t bribe the bulls with food but have to progress past them either by vaulting over them or using their bullfighting skills to remove the bull from their path. It’s for this reason that the crowds are kept behind wooden barriers where they must stay at all times.


A contestant’s race is over either when they are gored by a bull and have to be taken to the hospital or when they ring the bell in the spire of the tenth church. There are three prizes awarded in the race where men and women compete on equal terms: the person who runs the course in the quickest time receives the Bronze Horn, the person who scores the most points from the throwing of the weights into buckets wins the Silver Horn. The judges then perform a calculation. They multiply the number of weights throwing points by ten – for example if a contestant scores 42 points then they receive a score of 420. This number of seconds will then be removed from the time it took the contestant to run the course, so if the contestant ran the course in 40 minutes and scored 42 weight throwing points then their final adjusted time will be 40 minutes minus 420 seconds i.e 33 minutes. The person with the lowest adjusted time wins The Golden Horn and free entry into the following year’s contest.


The record time for running the course is 32 minutes 43 seconds by the marathon runner Alberto Indurain in 1963 although he scored zero points in the weight throwing section and so didn’t win the coveted Golden Horn. A former circus strongman, Hector Ramires,  holds the record for the number of weights points scored – 184 in both 1978 and 1982 although he didn’t win the Golden Horn in either year as he was a slow runner and tended to try and wrestle the bull to the ground, for which he received no extra points.


The record for winning the Golden Horn is held by Pedro Montoya who won the prize 7 times between 1953 and 1967. He ran the race in roughly 36 minutes and scored around 85 points in each year he took part. His career came to an end in 1968 when he misjudged a leap over the bull at the ninth church and was catapulted into a statue of a saint by a toss from the animal’s head. Montoya suffered a severe concussion and decided to retire rather than risk permanent brain damage.

There have been some fatalities – mainly from losing an argument with a bull at one of the later churches. An English tourist, Harold Jenkins, was killed by a bull at the sixth church in 1972 when the bull got its horn caught in his camera strap and dragged Jenkins around the church three times before it could be stopped. Since then competitors have not been allowed to carry bags with them during the race.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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