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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Why run with the bulls? 
8th-Jul-2008 03:31 pm

A lot of people ask this. Why deliberately risk your life?

Robert A. Heinlein was probably referring to something else when he wrote, "Nothing gives you more zest than running for your life." That probably explains it. Spaniards like to experience strong emotions, and running with the bulls is a sure means for achieving maximum zest.

How risky is running with the bulls in Pamplona? On average, 1 in 70 runners gets a minor injury like a bruise or scrape, and 1 in 700 gets a more major injury like a goring, broken bone, or internal injuries, usually the result of a fall or being trampled by the crowd or a bull. Only 1 in 100,000 gets killed.

Today was Pamplona's second day running of the bulls (called an encierro or enclosure in Spanish, since the bulls run within fences throughout the route). You can watch videos at

Today the bulls ran fast, 2 minutes 22 seconds, with only one minor goring in a runner's leg, and a few other injuries, none very serious according to initial reports. You can see the goring on the Cuatro video at 1 minute 47 seconds at the bottom of the screen. The bulls -- low, wide, and muscular -- came from the Cebada Gago ranch, and in their long history at Pamplona, they average about 1.65 gorings per run.

Of yesterday's injuries, most have been released from the hospital, except for one Spaniard that remains in intensive care with broken bones and internal injuries, but he is progressing well. In fact, a goring is usually a relatively minor injury compared to those that result from falls or tramplings.

How scary is it to run? Javier Solano is the gray-bearded, calm senior announcer for TVE. He began running with the bulls at age 15 in the 1970s, and ran for 19 years in Pamplona and elsewhere. He says that an hour before each run, his hands would tremble so much he couldn't have buttoned his shirt.

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