Manual Running of the Bulls

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Learn more about the history of the Running of Bulls. Traditionally, the bull run was used as a way of getting the bulls from the city outskirts to the bull ring. After the launching of two rockets, the bulls charge behind amateur daredevils, many dressed in traditional white attire with dashes of red, for meters half a mile which is the distance between the corral and the bull ring, according to the festival website. The morning runs through the pavement of the old town streets last between three and 10 minutes.

Running of the Bulls 2013 - Pamplona (Spain)

The event ends with an evening bullfight, during which the bulls are eventually killed by matadors. The bull run is the marque event of the fiesta celebrated in honor of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra. Other activities include concerts and parades. The weekends of the fiesta traditionally draw the largest crowds, tripling Pamplona's population of about , After years of this practice, the transportation and hurrying began to turn into a competition, as young adults would attempt to race in front of the bulls and make it safely to their pens without being overtaken.

When the popularity of this practice increased and was noticed more and more by the expanding population of Spanish cities, a tradition was created and stands to this day. The Pamplona [2] encierro is the most popular in Spain and has been broadcast live by RTVE , the public Spanish national television channel, for over 30 years.

Among the rules to take part in the event are that participants must be at least 18 years old, run in the same direction as the bulls, not incite the bulls, and not be under the influence of alcohol.

Running Of The Bulls 2019

In Pamplona, a set of wooden fences is erected to direct the bulls along the route and to block off side streets. A double wooden fence is used in those areas where there is enough space, while in other parts the buildings of the street act as barriers.


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The gaps in the barricades are wide enough for a human to slip through but narrow enough to block a bull. The fence is composed of approximately three thousand separate pieces of wood. Some parts of the fence remain in place for the duration of the fiesta, while others are placed and removed each morning.

The encierro begins with runners singing a benediction. It is sung three times, each time being sung both in Spanish and Basque. The benediction is a prayer given at a statue of Saint Fermin , patron of the festival and the city, to ask the saint's protection and can be translated into English as "We ask Saint Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the encierro and give us his blessing". Also some of them hold the day's newspaper rolled to draw the bulls' attention from them if necessary. A second rocket signals that all six bulls have been released.

The third and fourth rockets are signals that all of the herd has entered the bullring and its corral respectively, marking the end of the event. The encierro is usually composed of the six bulls to be fought in the afternoon, six steers that run in herd with the bulls, and three more steers that follow the herd to encourage any reluctant bulls to continue along the route.

The function of the steers, who run the route daily, is to guide the bulls to the bullring. The length of the run is meters yards. One or more would slip going into the turn at Estafeta "la curva" , resulting in the installation of anti-slip surfacing, and now most of the bulls negotiate the turn onto Estafeta and are often ahead of the steers.

This has resulted in a quicker run. Runners are not permitted in the first 50 meters of the encierro, which is an uphill grade where the bulls are much faster. Every year, between 50 and people are injured during the run.


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  7. Goring is much less common but potentially life threatening. In , for example, six participants were gored along the festival, in , only four runners were injured by the horns of the bulls with exactly the same number of gored people in , nine in and 10 in ; with one of the latter killed. Before that date, running was prohibited for women. In such cases injuries come both from asphyxia and contusions to those in the pile and from goring if the bulls crush into the pile.

    This kind of blocking of the entrance has occurred at least ten times in the history of the run, the last occurring in and the first dating back to A runner died of suffocation in one such pile up in Overall, since record-keeping began in , 15 people have been killed in the bull running of Pamplona, most of them due to being gored. They are deployed in 16 sanitary posts every 50 metres on average , each one with at least a physician and a nurse among their personnel.

    Most of these people are volunteers, mainly from the Red Cross. In addition to the medical posts, there are around 20 ambulances. This organization makes it possible to have a gored person stabilized and taken to a hospital in less than 10 minutes. Though there is no formal dress code, the very common and traditional attire is white trousers, white shirt with a red scarf around the waist and a red handkerchief around the neck.

    Another common dress practice, seen as a risk by some but as a daring depiction of courage by others is dressing in a conspicuous manner.

    Pathetic Pamplona: Why the running of the bulls makes me sick to my stomach

    Many runners that want to be seen wear colors other than white, a common alternate color choice is blue. Others include large logos on their shirt to capture the attention of the bulls. In the age of social media explosion, this is also thought to be a way to highlight someone in a photo. The encierro of Pamplona has been depicted many times in literature, television or advertising, but became known worldwide partly because of the descriptions of Ernest Hemingway in books The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon.

    The event is the basis for a chapter in James Michener 's novel The Drifters. The run is depicted in the Billy Crystal film City Slickers , where the character "Mitch" Crystal is gored non-fatally from behind by a bull during a vacation with the other main characters. The run appears in the Bollywood movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara , directed by Zoya Akhtar , as the final dare in the bucket list of the three bachelors who have to overcome their ultimate fear; death. At first, the trio run part of the route. They stop at the square, but then recover their nerve, and continue to the end.

    The completion of the run depicts their freedom as they learn that surviving a mortal danger can bring joy. Running with Bulls, a documentary of the festival filmed by Construct Creatives and presented by Jason Farrel, depicts the pros and cons of the controversial tradition. Since , the Esquire Channel has broadcast the running of the bulls as a show in the US, [23] with both live commentary and then a recorded 'round up' later in the day by NBCSN commentators the Men in Blazers , including interviews with noted participants such as Madrid-born runner David Ubeda, [24] former US Special Forces soldier turned filmmaker Dennis Clancey, [25] the historic New York-born runner Joe Distler, [26] and former British bullfighter and author Alexander Fiske-Harrison.

    The fact the horse has to be blindfolded to carry out this operation shows the sheer stupidity of taking on a maddened, kg creature. Act two sees more men on foot plunge more sharp sticks into the beast, goading him, making him charge in circles as the blood red mist of exhaustion sets in. If that fails, an executioner will come into the bullring and end it with a knife.

    Running of the bulls: Why Pamplona’s annual festival is nothing more than torture

    A Cebada Gago's bull is pulled out of the arena at the end of the bullfight. Want to test yourself? How about showing a bit of moral fortitude and doing it on a level playing field without harming something else? Some, but not enough, view the San Fermin festival for exactly what it is: But supporters say the bull is a key part of the San Fermin tradition that needs to be preserved. Herein lies a bitter irony: The bulls are not. Sadly, from where I sit, that day only two people were injured during the street race. Down from five on day one. On day three, the human injury toll was four.

    Participants fall next to Cebada Gago fighting bulls on the third day of the San Fermin bull run festival in Pamplona.

    Pamplona, Spain | 4th - 15th July