Pamplona Bull Run

At festival of San Fermin. Pamplona

The beginning of July heralds the commencement of the annual San Fermin Festival, as well as one of the festival’s most anticipated week-long events: the Bull Run. There are a few Bulls Runs across the city, but the biggest one takes place in Pamplona. The Pamplona San Fermin Festival lasts nine days, beginning on July 6th and ending at midnight on July 14th, while the Bull Run takes place every day at 8 a.m. from July 7th to July 14th.
San Fermin’s History & The Bull Run
The saint is: San Fermin, Pamplona’s patron saint, is honoured during the nine-day Sen Fermin festival. The crimson bandanas draped around everyone’s necks are memories of San Fermin’s beheading in the 2nd century owing to his beliefs.
The attire: Both bull runners and pedestrians will wear the traditional white slacks (or white jeans), white shirts, a red scarf knotted around the neck (a panuelo), and a red sash (a faja) tied around the waist. The waist sash is optional, but everyone wears a neck scarf.
Popularity of San Fermin: it is said that Ernest Hemingway put Pamplona’s festive Bull Run “on the map” when he visited and witnessed his first Running of the Bulls in 1923; inspired by the spectacle, he wrote The Sun Also Rises, stating that he “enjoyed 2 wild animals running together – one on 4 feet, one on 2”. As a result, Hemingway is regarded as a native of Pamplona.
Pamplona Bull Run
We can’t begin our discussion of the Bull Run without emphasising how perilous it is. Every day, many individuals are harmed (sometimes in small ways), and fatalities are a tragic event. Find a balcony if you want to see the activities! On the ground, you are not safe.
That being stated, let’s get to the good stuff…
The bulls: The bulls used in the bull run are known as “El Toro Bravo”, which translates to “the brave/fearless bull”. They’re incredibly athletic for their size, running the 12-mile trip at a 4-mile speed in under 2.5 minutes, and they actually run proportionally faster than humans on an uphill. Every day, a different herd of bulls runs — they’ll be mentioned in the morning paper.
The steers: the “clean up steers” with cowbells around their necks are released after the bulls to temper the herd because they’ve spent their entire lives with the bulls herding them from pasture to pasture. They are for the protection of both the bulls and the runners, and their primary goal is to decrease the possibility of a suelto – or lone bull.
A lone bull is a hazard to everyone; if you notice a bull hanging around, puzzled, run away quickly – this is not a photo opportunity! The bull is lost, and so in discomfort, and there is no way to predict how it will behave (usually aggressively to mark its territory).
The runners: some will train for this all year, while others will participate in the marathon as an extension of their overnight festivities while still inebriated. The uniform is not required, but the white pants, white shirt, and red sash and neck scarf are typical. However, as a runner, they should always be tied in a slipknot so that if they get stuck on something (such as a bull’s horn), the runner may escape easily. Runners should carry some sort of identification, even if it is simply your name scribbled on a piece of paper, in case of accident.
The run: no one runs the full course – even expert runners will only do a portion of it. The objective of a seasoned bull runner is to run as long as possible straight in front of the bull’s horns — this is known as running on the horn. The objective of a novice bull runner is just to avoid injury.
The run is free; there is no need to sign up or register for anything. All you have to do is arrive at the starting point between the Town Hall and Santo Domingo by 7:30 a.m. The cops will release you just before 8 a.m., and you are free to go wherever you choose.
Carrying a camera is banned because it poses a risk to yourself and others. Don’t worry, there are literally thousands of photographers high up on balconies during the entire route — walk into any picture shop after your run to locate yourself in a shot.
Do not touch the bulls – of course, if you’re rushing near, it’s sometimes unavoidable, but doing so can disorient the bull and put you in danger. Pastores are persons stationed along the path whose job it is to whack people with a stick if they try to contact the bull. They also aid in the re-location of missing bulls.
The run begins a few minutes before 8 a.m., when the first rocket is launched into the air, freeing all of the bulls. Once all of the bulls have been released, a second rocket is fired to announce that all of the bulls have been freed, and the “clean up steers” are unleashed.
The run course is approximately 850 metres long
Starts at Corralillo and continues along Calle Santo Domingo, often known as La Cuesta (“the slope”) — it’s 280 metres totally uphill. Remember, this is where bulls can outrun people – not a good area for unskilled bull runners!
Continues into Town Hall Square, where the terrain flattens out – ideal for novices – but then enters Ayuntamiento, called La Curva – an extreme curve that feels much curvier when done at speed. Don’t call it “dead man’s curve” Because you’ll seem like a complete noob, as nobody has ever died there.
Passes via Calle Estafeta, the route’s longest stretch and where the bulls begin to tyre and slow down, making it an ideal section for new runners.
The final leg takes you across Telefonica and ends at Plaza de Toros, where you’ll sprint through the Callejon (red door) and onto the bull ring’s sand.
You’re still not safe once you’re on the beach! Sprint to the left or right, but don’t run directly into the stands. You’re considered a valiente if you stay on the beach, and others will hurl stuff at you!
Following the run, further rockets are launched to indicate the finish of the run. Whether or whether they finish the race, everyone will have a celebration drink of chocolate milk with cognac (though some will argue that regular vanilla milk with cognac is better). When you see the barrios (barriers) being removed from the shopfronts along the street, you know the run is officially over.
We don’t know about you, but we’d rather sit back with a bottle of Spanish wine and tapas and watch the bull run on TV than get too close to it!

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