The first bull running race of Spain’s renowned San Fermin festival unfolded in the northern city of Pamplona on Friday, resulting in six individuals sustaining minor injuries from falls or trampling. This popular event, where a group of bulls dashes through the city’s narrow cobbled streets, has unfortunately claimed the lives of 16 people since 1911. Just last year, four runners were gored during the festival.
San Fermin festival
According to Jose Aldaba, a spokesman for the Red Cross, six individuals were transported to the hospital due to injuries to their face or limbs. Thankfully, Aldaba assured the public that none of the injuries appeared to be severe.
“For a July 7, which is still one of the most crowded, it has been a ‘clean’ run,” he added. The first race of the San Fermin festival traditionally occurs on July 7, attracting thousands of spectators.
After a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s running of the bulls in Pamplona saw nearly 1.7 million visitors, and even more are expected this year as all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. A prominent tour guide group, Destino Navarra, reported that 70% of this year’s bookings were made by individuals from the United States and Canada.
The San Fermin festival in Pamplona is the most renowned among Spain’s summer bull-running events, gaining worldwide recognition through Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.” Interestingly, this year marks the 100th anniversary of Hemingway’s initial visit to the festival.
During Friday’s race, six bulls, accompanied by six docile oxen, sprinted through Pamplona’s streets for approximately two minutes and 30 seconds before reaching the bull ring. Seasoned bull runners dashed ahead of them, skillfully maneuvering to the side at the last moment. The participating bulls meet their fate in the afternoon, facing professional bullfighters.
Overall, eight such runs are scheduled for this festival, which also includes cultural events, as well as copious amounts of food and drink. Despite its popularity, the Pamplona festival consistently faces criticism from animal rights activists due to concerns about animal cruelty.