PAMPLONA: Thrill seekers avoided any gorings for a fourth straight bull run at Pamplona’s San Fermín Festival on Sunday. The city’s hospital said four Spanish men aged between 24 and 43 needed treatment in a hospital for hard knocks they received during Sunday’s early morning bull run. One man needed to be evacuated on a stretcher to an ambulance wearing a neck brace.
The six bulls took 2 1/2 minutes to charge through the 875-meter (956-yard) course through Pamplona’s old quarter. They remained in a tight pack along with the six tame oxen that accompanied them.
The run finishes at Pamplona’s bullring, where later in the day the bulls are killed by professional bullfighters. Animal rights activists have campaigned against the slaughter of the animals, but bullfights are still popular among segments of Spanish society and remain an integral part of the San Fermín festival.
There were no gorings either on the first three days of this year’s festival. There are four days remaining.
Eight people were gored in 2019, the last festival before a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixteen people have died in Pamplona’s bull runs since 1910, with the last death in 2009.
Tens of thousands of foreign visitors come to the Pamplona festival that was made known to the English-speaking world through Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.” The few thousand participants in the early morning bull runs are split between expert locals, who try to sprint in front of the bull’s horns, and newcomers who are often fortunate to escape hairy situations.
The twisting, narrow cobblestone streets are sprayed with a substance to help prevent the bulls and oxen from slipping, especially on the tight corners. That did not stop runners from tumbling over one another as they frantically tried to get out of the way.
Only good luck, or the magnanimity of the bulls, has spared many a runner a skewering.
Thousands of festival-goers watch the action either from balconies or by arriving well before dawn to grab a spot on the wooden barriers lining the course. Almost everyone wears the festival’s traditional white shirt and pants with red sash and neckerchief, although there is also a good sprinkling of soccer club shirts.
The mad rush of the bull run is followed by general hedonism with people drinking, eating, attending concerts and partying late into the night.