Photo: Running of the Bulls
The eighth and final running of the bulls of this year’s San Fermin festival was one of the fastest and cleanest, ending in two minutes and 33 seconds with no apparent gorings.
Six fighting bulls and an equal number of tame steers from the Torrehandilla-Torreherberos estate made their way quickly along the streets of this northern Spanish city Saturday, although there were some dangerous moments during the route and later in the bullring when a thrill-seeker ran at one of the animals and was knocked down.
The herd initially stayed together and briskly climbed up the Santo Domingo hill without paying attention to the runners. Two bulls, however, were running ahead of the others by the time it reached the town hall square, one of them having already trampled one “mozo.”
In this formation, the herd ran along Mercaderes street and successfully managed the dangerous turn onto Estafeta street without any of the animals crashing against the fence or injuring any runners.
The bulls and steers kept up their brisk pace along the entire length of Estafeta. Some runners fell down while other experienced mozos demonstrated their expertise by maneuvering in the spaces that opened up among the animals.
Danger also was averted at the Telefonica curve, with several runners falling without serious consequences, and the bulls then completed the final stretch of the route quickly.
But the biggest scare occurred when the herd entered the ring and a man imprudently put himself in harm’s way. He was knocked down by one of the fighting bulls, but further danger was averted when an attendant rushed over and distracted the animal.
Most of the runs at this year’s event were largely uneventful with the exception of Monday, when three participants were gored.
The world-famous San Fermin festival started at noon on July 6 with the traditional firing of a rocket in front of Pamplona town hall amid the shouts of thousands of people, many of them visitors from around the world.
It will formally conclude at midnight Saturday with the singing of the song “Pobre de mi” (Poor Me) in that same square to lament the end of the raucous party.
The runs during the nine-day festival are filled with tension and emotion, and occasionally result in tragedy, with 15 runners having been killed since statistics began to be kept in the early 20th century and many others having suffered gorings and other injuries.
The run to the bull ring is especially dangerous because some people take part in the event after all-night drinking binges, which make them reckless and more likely to get too close to animals that weigh in excess of 500 kilos (1,100 pounds).
The running of the bulls is monitored by experts who control the route and try to prevent accidents, but, inevitably, runners fall, suffer cuts and bruises, and are even gored by the animals.
As many as 1 million visitors from around the world descend on Pamplona during the festival - many of them Americans but also Frenchmen, Britons, Italians, Germans and Latin Americans.
The festival, begun about 400 years ago, was popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”