Its weird how folk get their fixes: there are those who jump out of planes, ski/surf down mountains, dive under the water and test themselves to their physical limit – but would you run in front of a charging bull whose only intention is to gore you with his sharp horns! Well thats what they do in July every year in a place called Pamplona which is in northern Spain, just south of the border with France and San Sebastian on the northern coast.
Actually the festival, for that is what it is, is celebrated in many towns and villages in both Spain and in southern France – but it is Pamplona which is the most famous. It is the San Fermin festival which is held annually between July 7th and 14th and there is bull running on each day of the festival which starts at 8.00 in the morning. The bull running celebrates the movement of bulls from the farms to the cities where they were to fight in the bull fights
It is a dangerous and extreme activity in which to partake, but it is open to all comers who are over 18 years of age. Every year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run although most injuries are due to falls on the streets and are not serious. The length of the run is around 840 meters and goes through 4 streets of the old part of the village – Santo Domingo, Town Hall Square, Mercaderes and Estafeta – and a section called “Telefónica” before entering into the bullring. It takes about 4 minutes from start to finish.
Since 1910, 14 people have been killed in Pamplona, the last person to be killed in the Pamplona’s bull run was Fermín Etxeberria Iraneta a 63-year-old veteran runner from Pamplona who died in 2003 from a head injury. The last person to be directly killed by the bull’s horns was Matthew Tassio, an American tourist from Illinois who was gored in 1995.
So there you have it – check out the action in the video below from Travelsite – as you will see it can get more than a little hairy!
Not surprisingly the bull running attracts a lot of negative comment from animal rights groups including one group who run naked along the route of the bull run on the day before the actual bull runs themselves start.
All things considered it might be worth a trip to Pamplona this summer!