The Bull Run festival, held during the San Fermín festival in July, has made Pamplona, the capital of Navarra and a city in northern Spain, famous worldwide. Every morning during fiestas, from July 7 to July 14, Pamplona hosts a race with battling bulls called the Running of the Bulls.
Taking place over an 875-meter route, the Running of the Bulls is a free event when six fighting bulls are led by six calm bell-oxen through the winding streets of Pamplona and up to the bullring. Every morning between July 7 and July 14, around eight in the morning, this event takes place as part of Sanfermin’s fiestas. Unless something unusual happens, the run should normally just take two to three minutes to finish.
An incredible example of history and excitement combined, the Pamplona Bull Run Festival captures the hearts of thousands of people who visit the old Spanish city each year. This legendary occasion, which has strong roots in Spanish culture, is a unique show.
This guide delves into the rich history of this centuries-old festival, tracing its beginnings, its exhilarating course, and the cultural significance that elevates it to the status of an event not to be missed.
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Table of Contents
A Glimpse into Tradition
It seems that in the past, the butchers were in charge of transporting the bulls from the ranches, and the young apprentice butchers started going with the pastores, or bull minders, as they would guide the bulls up to the bullring.
They would frequently run ahead of the bulls to lure them in. As time went on, the people grew to love the event, and the men started running ahead of the bulls rather than behind them like the bullminders always did.
Joining a list or registering is not required. Anybody who is at least 18 years old is eligible to participate, and it is absolutely free. But if you want to stay out of trouble with the law or avoid paying fines, there are a few standards and guidelines that must be followed.
The local law enforcement officers exhibit a strong and uncompromising stance towards any form of misconduct, and they take extra care to guarantee that no runners who are inebriated or intoxicated are allowed to continue with the race.
The bull-running circuit winds through a number of the historic Pamplona neighborhood’s small paths. It begins on Santo Domingo Street’s incline and ends at the bullring within the arena. There are 875 meters traveled in all. Even though this is a modest distance, a runner cannot possibly complete the entire route.
It is due to several circumstances, including the bulls’ incredible speed, the distance, and the large number of other runners. You should not be concerned about encountering any vicious fighting bulls around the corner if you happen to be in Pamplona during those days and at that specific moment. Due to the extensive fencing around the track, it is nearly difficult for any bulls to escape.
Access to the Festival
The double fencing along the course’s streets is being installed in the wee hours of the morning. Now that the previous night’s wild partying is finished, the streets are being sprayed with water to clear the trash and debris. The local police assist in removing every employee from these streets at the same time. Only authorized news representatives and members of the medical community are permitted to stay in the area between the two fence lines.
Now that the last wooden gate in the fencing has been closed, the streets are reduced to a comparatively small corridor with no entrance or exit. Right now, the only method for the runners to enter the course is to go to a gateway next to City Hall, which is open from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning. To witness the bull running action from behind the fencing, spectators may also begin to hunt for a spot. However, they have to remain behind the second fence line at all times.
During the Running of the Bulls, keep an eye out for the rockets that go off. The organizers communicate with both the runners and the public in this way. The first rocket to explode signals the start of the “Encierro,” or the Running of the Bulls, and the bulls’ liberation from the pens. The sixth fighting bull has emerged from the pens and is already on the streets, based on the sound of the second rocket.
Once the bulls have moved into the bullring’s pens, the third rocket is launched. The fourth rocket signals that the fencing may now be securely opened, allowing people to re-use the streets that run the entire course and preserving the festive atmosphere of the festival.
How to Run?
Learn everything you can about the Running of the Bulls and running techniques before choosing to participate in the event. If you are still interested in participating, pick a specific section of the course and pay attention to the guidance of more seasoned runners. It comes down to beginning out slowly and running as hard and far as you can when the bulls are closing in. Skilled runners aim to approach the horns closely and hold their position for as long as possible.
One can choose the level of proximity to the bulls (the higher the proximity, the higher the risk). If the bulls start to outpace you, go to one side and let them pass. Pull aside, being careful not to obstruct or hinder other runners (if possible, hug the wall or fence or squeeze through it).
Risks Involved During the Festival
It’s risky to ride the bulls too soon. Every Running of the Bulls typically attracts 2,000 participants on average. The bulls may use their hooves to stomp you, gore you, or topple you. Usually, depending on a variety of variables, there are certain injuries, whether minor or major. Occasionally, there are serious gorings and injuries, especially when a bull gets separated from the pack or when occurs a pile-up.
Although deaths are uncommon, over the past thirty years, there have been several incidents. Thus, the incident is not amusing. If you are a foreigner and get hurt during the running of the bulls, you will get professional medical attention right away, as well as the appropriate hospital facilities if needed. But later on, for your insurance company to pay for everything, you will receive a bill or a demand for payment.
Safety Measures and Controversies
Even though the Bull Run is undoubtedly exciting, safety comes first, and strict precautions are taken to reduce risks. A controlled environment is created by medical staff, obstacles, and designated escape routes, guaranteeing the safety of both attendees and participants.
The Pamplona Bull Run has generated discussion and criticism despite safety measures, especially from animal rights groups. The continuous discussion about how bulls are treated in this tradition adds levels of nuance to the festival’s cultural significance.
Tips for Participants
For those with the courage to participate in this legendary occasion, preparation is key. The following are important guidelines for potential participants:
It is essential to comprehend the turns and turns of the run. Learn the layout of the course and become familiar with the safe areas and possible obstacles.
It’s not just a style statement to pair a red scarf with a classic white shirt and slacks; it’s also a sensible decision. The red increases visibility in the midst of the pandemonium, and the white reflects the sun’s beams.
Good judgment is essential when running. Preventing alcohol consumption before the event guarantees increased attentiveness and a higher likelihood of completing the course.
Finally, the Bull Run Festival in Pamplona is a fascinating fusion of adrenaline, tradition, and cultural value. Together with its rich history, the run’s tangible spirit draws adventure seekers from all over the world. Both players and onlookers are drawn into an experience that lasts beyond time as the sound of bulls’ thundering hooves reverberates through the historic streets.
Is the Bull Run Festival dangerous?
Although there are inherent risks at the Bull Run, severe safety precautions are taken to reduce the risk.
How did running with bulls become a tradition?
The custom dates back a long way, having begun as a bravery test.
Are there any age restrictions for Bull Run participation?
Because participation requires a minimum age of 18, it ensures a certain degree of maturity and responsibility.
After the run, what happens to the bulls?
Bullfights are the usual purpose for the bulls, carrying on a long-standing cultural custom.
Can tourists take part in the Bull Run?
Yes, tourists are welcome to participate in the run, but they must be aware of and abide by safety precautions.