What to know before your Pamplona Bull Run
Are you ready for one of the most thrilling, most electric experiences of your life? Our official Bull Runner center provides you with detailed information and travel tips – basically everything you need to know before coming to the San Fermin Festival. Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls® is the wildest, most famous and best-attended bull run in all of Spain. If you are planning on becoming an active participant in this exhilarating tradition, it’s important to understand the risks, the official rules, the bull runner routes, and ways to get prepared and stay safe. Between 2,000-2,500 people elect to run a portion of the route each year. While some are veteran runners (known locally as Mozos), most participants are charging down Pamplona’s winding cobblestone streets for the first time.
The unofficial purpose of the bull runners is to help move the herd from the corrals on the edge of the city to the bullfighting arena – at a furiously fast pace that lasts just minutes. While running with a pack of 1,200-pound beasts is undeniably exciting, it’s fraught with danger. The best way to improve your odds of a safe and injury-free run is to empower yourself with knowledge and come prepared.
As the sponsor of Chasing Red, the upcoming movie about expert bull runners, we have access to seasoned Pamplona Mozos who share some of their insights with you.
Pamplona Bull Run Route Map
Before arriving to Pamplona, you want to familiarize yourself with the bull run route map and take a close look at the inherent challenges of each section. Some of the bull runner routes are more dangerous than others, so it pays to do your research if this will be your inaugural run in Pamplona. The route snakes its way through the heart of Pamplona’s Old Quarter, spanning 875 meters in total. The first section of the run begins at Calle Santo Domingo, where the six fighting bulls are released from the corrals. The route then continues to Calles Mercaderes and Estafeta before heading past the Telefonica building and funneling through a dangerous bottleneck into the Plaza de Toros, where the same bulls will fight later that evening. None of the Mozos run the route from start to finish. Instead, they select a section of the route and run as fast as their legs will carry them when the bulls approach. This heart-pumping dash usually lasts 20-30 yards at most.
Our Pamplona Bull Run Map has more info about the lengths, terrain and risks of each portion of the bull run route.
Official Running of the Bulls Rules
The city of Pamplona publishes Official Rules for the Running of the Bulls that are strictly enforced by local authorities. You must be at least 18 years old to take part in the run. Runners are prohibited from touching or harassing the bulls or taking any other action that would hamper the race. If you violate any of these regulations, you may be detained, arrested, fined and/or kicked out of the event. The Running of the Bulls rules are designed to protect runners and bystanders from risk of injury and should be followed at all times. Cameras, backpacks and cell phones are prohibited as is running while intoxicated.
Running of the Bulls Training
More than 50 percent of all people who decide to be active participants in the Running of the Bulls, do so for the first and last time. In other words, it’s a “bucket list” activity for thousands of adrenaline-seeking San Fermin Festival visitors. The jury is out on what kind of training for Running of the Bulls is useful. One thing is clear, you need to be able to dodge both man and beast and have all your wits about you. If your reaction times and thinking are even slightly impaired from partying or lack of sleep, we recommend that you do not run. Experts concur that training for bull runs requires more agility and strategy than it does physical endurance.
Running of the Bulls Safety
Bulls are by no means vicious creatures, but they are unpredictable. Even experienced runners have been trampled or gored by a bull that is confused, antagonized and separated from the herd. There have been instances where bulls have turned around to face oncoming runners, increasing risk of gorings and severe injury substantially. When runners are knocked down by an aberrant bull, experts caution that it’s safer to stay down rather than get up and risk further injury.
Statistically speaking, running with the bulls in Pamplona isn’t as dangerous as you may think, but it’s not safe either. In the last 100 years, there have been 16 recorded deaths, though each year dozens of people are injured, some requiring hospitalization. In one year alone, more than 113 people were hurt while participating in the bull run, underscoring the risk involved.
Everyone who steps inside the Pamplona bull run route should be prepared to accept the consequences of their choice to participate. We do not advocate running, but provide information designed to enhance Running of the Bulls safety that will hopefully allow participants to enjoy this centuries-old tradition.
Running alongside Spanish fighting bulls as they rampage down the street is a dance with injury and death. Unlike other, more-benign tourist activities that are included in most insurance policies, this is not covered. Unless you have purchased a special policy that includes “hazardous or high-risk activities,” you could be on the hook for any expenses incurred if something were to happen. Before you take your life into your own hands, make sure that you are covered with the right insurance policy. Learn more about life insurance for the Running of the Bulls® here.
Running of the Bulls safety is one of our top priorities. If you are planning on ticking this hair-raising adventure off your bucket list, we encourage you to learn more about our Running of the Bulls® Credentials, a new resource that proves to Pamplona city officials that you’ve done your homework and are prepared to join the Encierro and understand the rules, regulations and risks. After passing a test, you’ll gain credentials as a “Corredor” (runner) from Running of the Bulls, Inc. along with special benefits.