Running in Spain|
year from July 7th-14th thousands pack into Pamplona to start Spain's most famous
bull-running fiesta to honour Navarre capital's patron saint, San Fermin. Spain
stages more than 3,000 fiestas (festivals) each year but the 7 days of bull-running
are the favourite in terms of spectacle and excitement.
the daybreak of July 7th, runners (mainly young men) gather at the bottom of Santo
Domingo, which is the starting line. They crowd together and sing to the image
of San Fermin which is placed in a niche on a wall. The song goes: "A San
Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro
dándonos su bendición" ("We ask San Fermín, as
our Patron, to guide us through the Bull Run and give us his blessing.")
as a rocket goes off, a number of fighting bulls are let out onto the streets.
A second rocket is then let off to make sure everyone knows the bulls are loose
in the street. The bulls run along the narrow street 825 metres (half a mile)
to a bull ring. The runners dash along in front of the bulls, aiming to feel the
breath of the bull on their backs, getting as close as possible - all whilst trying
to avoid getting gored by their sharp horns.
supposed way to do this is to start off slowly when the bulls are quite a distance
behind. Then as they get nearer start running like hell! You can then go near
them for a short time, as near as you are prepared to risk it, and then quickly
get out of the way. Runners look for a gap in the fence to slip through or jump
over, or a space against the wall of the street.
the bulls finally reach the end of the street, they go into pens and are kept
until later that day they are killed in a bullfight.
tradition is said to have come from practicality when, in 1591 residents merely
had to herd the bulls to the bull-fighting arena. At first only the drovers were
used to lead the bulls. But it seems that at some date, the butchers guild, who
had the responsibility of buying the bulls, began to join in with the drovers
and began to chase behind the bulls and heifers up to the bull-ring from Santo
Domingo street - the starting point of the run.
time passed the event became more and more popular and some people began to run
in front of the bulls and not behind them, as the drovers do. In 1852, a new bull-ring
was built and a new route - becoming much shorter also, because as from 1899,
it was decided to bring the bulls up to a small corral in Santo Domingo street
the night before they fight in the ring.
only a few daring souls ran with the bulls but the adrenaline rush of running
in front of a 1500lb bull has since caught on. People now journey from all around
the world to run with the bulls.
cities in Spain also have bull running festivals if you can´t make San Fermin
or don´t like crowds. Aravaca-Pozuelo, a suburb of Madrid, for example,
has a bull running festival in late summer.