Pamplona Bull Runner Center
Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls is the wildest, most famous and best-attended bull run in the world. If you are planning on becoming an active participant in this exhilarating tradition, it’s important to understand the risks, the official rules and ways to get prepared and stay safe.
What to know before your Pamplona Bull Run
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), the majority are charging down Pamplona’s 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 herd of 1,200-pound beasts is undeniably thrilling, 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 award-winning movie about expert bull runners, we have access to seasoned Pamplona Mozos who share some of their insights with you.
The city of Pamplona publishes Official Rules for the Running of the Bulls that are strictly enforced by local officials. 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. These 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.
Training for the Bull Run
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 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, we recommend you do not run. Remember, even if you’re sober, it is never SAFE to run with the bulls – by definition, you’re putting your life on the line if you choose to run.
The entire route of the bull run is 875 meters, but none of the runners go from start to finish. Instead, you will select a portion of the route and run as fast as possible when the bulls approach. This usually lasts 20-30 yards at most. Experts concur that training for the Running of the Bulls requires more agility and strategy than physical endurance.
Pamplona Bull Run 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 pack. There have been instances where bulls have turned around to face oncoming runners, increasing risk of goring 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 promote running, but provide information designed to enhance your safety and enjoy this centuries-old tradition.
Life and Health Insurance
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.
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.