Contrary to popular belief, nobody runs the entire encierro at Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. Instead, each runner chooses a short stretch of the 875-meter course to test their mettle, their agility and their luck against six bulls who will fight later that day. Check out the complete Pamplona Bull Run map to learn about all sections of the course.
Estafeta Street: long, straight and narrow
If you are thinking of running Calle Estafeta, you are facing a narrow street of considerable length, which is slightly uphill and has practically no escape for runners. There are few fences to aid you and, while it is one of the most popular stretches for bull runners, Calle de la Estafeta is not for the faint-hearted. Some of the most horrific gorings in recent years have taken place on Estafeta.
The primary danger on Estafeta is that if a bull separates from the herd (which is a common occurrence), there are no obvious escape routes apart from a smattering of shop railings and fences. If this is your first bull run, walking the course before hand is absolutely recommended.
Bear in mind that between 1,500 and 3,000 people participate in each of the morning bull runs in Pamplona. Unless you know what to expect and what to do if things go wrong, you needlessly increase your risk of serious injury or death.
Tips for running Calle de la Estafeta
Beginners should position themselves mid-way up Calle Estafeta. Once you hear the second rocket blast, the thunderous roar will quickly approach. It’s tempting to run with the first wave of mozos, but it’s better to wait a few clicks until the camera flashes start popping from the balconies above.
Try and stay in the center of the street, and wear rubber-soled shoes with good traction. The cobblestones can be very slippery here. Remember that if you go down, cover your head and stay on the ground. Someone will tell you when it’s safe to get up.
The very best mozos, like the esteemed bull runner David Rodriguez, dominate Calle de la Estafeta. It is here on this long, straight stretch that veteran runners will position themselves right in front of the charging herd. Rodriguez on many occasions has masterfully used his body to guide lone bulls (called sueltos) in the direction of the corrals, a feat locally known as “running on the horns.”
The inherent danger – and the thrill of narrowly escaping injury and death – are what lures many people to Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. Visit our travel center to learn more about planning your own trip, and if you want to watch instead of run be sure to check out our Pamplona Balconies for the Bull Run.
We invite you to join our new Bull Runners Club, a dynamic platform where you can share information, get first-hand advice from expert runners, and much more!