Bulls race in Pamplona for first time since 2019; nobody googled

PAMPLONA, Spain — The first bull run in three years took place Thursday at the San Fermín Festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona. No one was impaled, but several runners suffered bumps and serious falls as tens of thousands of people celebrated the return of one of Europe’s most iconic traditional events.

Six bulls, led by six tame oxen, stormed the streets of Pamplona for about two minutes and 35 seconds, without provoking too much carnage among the thousands of spectators and participants who packed the course.

Several runners were kicked, trampled, or pushed onto the cobblestones. An animal’s horn struck at least two men in the head, but none were impaled.

Pamplona Hospital said six people had been taken in for treatment. They included a 30-year-old American who fractured his left arm and a 16-year-old Spanish girl who lost part of a finger in the bullring, where a gathering of runners happened at the entrance. Four Spanish men, aged between 19 and 45, were also injured.

Ryan Ward, an American tourist from San Diego, California, said the risk of running with the cops was worth the rush.

“I feel like I’m going to cry. There’s just so many emotions that build up inside me when I run with “Mis Amigos” (my friends). I don’t know where they are, I lost them all,” he said after finishing the bull run unscathed.

“It felt like two seconds, it probably felt like a minute when the cops actually ran past me, but it felt like a blink and it was gone,” Ward continued. “It’s amazing, unbelievable, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

The early morning bull run was the first of eight planned. The rest of the day is usually heavy drinking, eating, and attending cultural events.

Eight people were impaled during the 2019 festival, the last before the coronavirus pandemic. 16 people have died in bull races since 1910, most recently in 2009.

The bulls that run every morning are killed by professional bullfighters in the afternoon. Animal rights activists have campaigned against the slaughter of the animals, but bullfights are still popular in sections of Spanish society and are an integral part of the San Fermín festival.

The incredibly popular celebrations in Pamplona have been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Spain’s strong vaccination program has allowed life to return to more or less normal, but a recent spike in cases has prompted Pamplona authorities to recommend the use of face masks where necessary. However, masks were a very rare sight among the crowds that packed the town square for the official start of the party on Wednesday or during the first bull run.

Thousands of men and some women take part in the ‘encierros’ or running of the bulls, trying to avoid the huge bulls and oxen that thunder through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of Old Pamplona.

The 875 meters (956 yards) of track is sprayed with a substance to help keep the cops from slipping on the tight corners. The run is usually over in a breathtaking three minutes.

Experienced bull runners, mostly locals, try to sprint full steam ahead just in front of the bull horns before pulling away at the last second. The Inexperienced, a group that includes most foreigners, are good enough to scramble out of the way and often end up in bunches of followers.

Almost everyone in Pamplona is wearing the traditional white shirt and trousers with a red sash and scarf for the festival this week.

Joseph Wilson reported from Barcelona.

This version has been corrected to show a girl, not a boy, who lost part of a finger in the bullring.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/1st-bull-run-in-pamplona-in-3-years-takes-place-no-gorings/2022/07/07/0c766dd6-fdc5-11ec-b39d-71309168014b_story.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_world Bulls race in Pamplona for first time since 2019; nobody googled

Dustin Huang

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