The running of the bulls — and the nine days of nonstop partying that accompany them — draws about 1 million spectators to Pamplona, a city of 200,000 in northern Spain, for the Fiesta de San Fermin every year. Many foreigners imagine following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, who channeled his experience in the 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”
Hundreds of runners with varying degrees of fitness and scant sleep the night before race ahead of or next to the bulls charging through Pamplona’s cobblestone streets to the city’s bullring. Records dating back to 1910 list 16 deaths from the event.
Above it all
During the festival, Pamplona’s population swells from 200,000 to around 1.2 million, with visitors attracted by the adrenaline boost of bull runs along the 850-meter course — and the serious partying.
In the thick of it
Up close and personal
A California lawyer who wanted to get a selfie while running with the bulls this year almost lost his life in the process.
A charging bull ran over and gored Jaime Alvarez of San Francisco in the neck during the first run of the festival.
“The joy and the excitement of being in the bullring quickly turned into a scare, into real fear for my life,” Alvarez, 46, said Monday at a hospital where he was recovering from surgery.
Doctors told Alvarez the bull’s horn went deep into his neck and fractured his cheekbone. That it didn’t hit the jugular vein or major arteries was described to the injured patient as “beyond miraculous.”
End of the run
Protests by animal rights groups have become a fixture in Pamplona in recent years. On the eve of the festival, dozens of semi-naked activists staged a performance simulating speared bulls lying dead on Pamplona’s cobbled streets to draw attention at what they see as animal cruelty for the sake of human entertainment.
Bullfights are protected under the Spanish Constitution as part of the country’s cultural heritage.