Six Things Everyone Wished They Had Known Before Running With The Bulls
There is so much to learn and plan for before running with the bulls Pamplona and it can be overwhelming; that is why we have created the ‘spark notes’ version and packaged it in a mini email series. Sign up today
Participating in the Running of the Bulls
Before sharing our insider advice on how to participate in Running of the Bulls, it is important to first understand the history of the Bull Run. The Running of the Bulls tradition was originally born from the necessity to move bulls from outside the city of Pamplona to the bullring in the center of the town, something that’s been done since the 13th century. The San Fermin Fiesta has been held every July since 1592 and it’s not completely clear when citizens began running in front of the bulls but there are records as far back as 1787 indicating that the tradition was already long established at that point. Interestingly, the route the bulls run has only changed slightly since 1852.
Ready, Set, Run!
First it needs to be said, nobody should ever consider running while they are intoxicated. So if you are still out drinking when the sun comes up, we highly recommend having a designated runner 🙂
If you are set on running, you’ll need to gather in Plaza Consistorial near the starting point of the route: Position yourself somewhere at the end of Santo Domingo Street, in front of the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), or the beginning of Mercaderes street by 7:00 AM. We recommend getting there early! Don’t just follow the crowds. Sometimes you’ll see people all along Estafeta Street stretching out and preening as though they’ll be running. The police however make a sweep all the way down Estafeta Street prior to the run. Anyone in this area will be disqualified and forced off the street.
The Bull Run begins at 8:00 AM and the runners chant three times to a small statue of San Fermin – placed in a niche in the wall on Santo Domingo Street. Then the first rocket goes off, letting the runners know the bulls have been let out of the corral. You will hear the roar of the crowd and the echo of the bulls’ hooves on the cobblestone streets as the excitement moves in a wave past you. The second rocket signals that all the bulls have left the corral and the third rocket signals that the run is over.
If they don’t stop to gore people, the bulls can make the trip down the 825 meter (.51 mile) stretch of narrow streets in 2 to 5 minutes. Of course, the process takes much longer if the bulls stop to notice a runner and target him. At the end of the run, in the Plaza de Toros, they release Vaquillas (young cows with capped horns) into the bullring to toss participants around and amuse the crowd.
If you are wondering if the event is dangerous, it is! Since 1925, 15 people have been killed during the event – most recently on July 10, 2009. Every year between 200-300 people are injured during the run although most are bruises and scrapes due to falls and not the result of gorings from the bulls’ horns. If are not too queesy, here is a bull run video from 2013 you can watch that shows just how dangerous running of the bulls can be.
Now that we have given you the danger disclaimer, it is also an important to note that the bull run is considered one of the most integral parts of the San Fermin Festival and viewed by many in Pamplona as one of the last traditions that represent the true spirit of the region.
Let us know if we can serve you in any way as you plan for your adventure.
Learn how to run with the bulls online
There is so much more to learn before running with the bulls, such as how to avoid major emergencies, or how to pick the best section for your risk profile. We highly recommend our online course that provides a 101 on Bull Running course, webinars with experts and a social online community with other runners.
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