For the bulls, he was perhaps the most tantalizing of targets.
"Buffalo" Bill Hillmann is considered the best young bull runner from the United States. He travels to Spain from his Chicago home every summer for the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona. He even co-wrote a book, "Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona," that offered novices handy tips to avoid getting hurt at the festival.
But the bulls didn't care.
Hillmann was one of two people gored Wednesday at Spain's famous San Fermin festival in Pamplona. The weeklong party attracts hundreds of thousands of thrill seekers from around the world, who make a half-mile mad dash -- the encierro -- through the city's cobblestone streets each morning at 8 a.m., chased by angry bulls.
In Wednesday's run, which featured six 1,300-pound black Victoriano del Rio bulls, one of the animals broke loose from the pack and gored Hillmann and another man, a Spaniard. The American stumbled, fell to the ground and was stabbed by the bull's horn in his right thigh, according to Hillmann's friend and coauthor, Alexander Fiske-Harrison, who posted photos of the frightening but also embarrassing incident on his blog.
Fortunately, the bull's horn missed Hillmann's artery and bone. He underwent surgery and is expected to recover. A local website for San Fermin aficionados quoted Hillmann's medical report as saying his condition was "not serious."
Hillmann's wife, Enid, was at his hospital bedside, Fiske-Harrison wrote.
The Spaniard who was gored alongside Hillmann is believed to have suffered more severe injuries to his chest. The regional government termed his condition "serious." Three other men were injured in the melee, but not gored.
Spain's San Fermin festival dates to the 13th century. It was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."
Runners wear white, with red bandannas and cummerbunds, thought to symbolize the purity and martyrdom of St. Fermin, a Roman who converted to Christianity in the 3rd century. The heart-pounding chase ends in Pamplona's grand bullring, where that day's bulls are killed each evening.
Fifteen people have died of gorings there since record-keeping began in the 1920s. The most recent death was that of a Spaniard in 2009.
Frayer is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times