22nd May 2024
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Pamplona bull run returns – with six people treated in hospital on first day

The first bull run in three years took place on Thursday morning at the San Fermín Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona. Nobody was gored, but several runners took knocks and hard falls as tens of thousands people revelled in the return of one of Spain’s most famous traditional events. Six people were taken to hospital for treatment.

The annual festival normally starts on 7 July but in 2020 and 2021 it was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time since 2019, six bulls guided by six tame steers charged through Pamplona’s streets for around two minutes and 35 seconds without provoking too much carnage among the thousands of observers and participants cramming the course.

Several runners were stomped, trampled or shoved to the cobblestone pavement. A animal’s horn smacked at least two men in the head, but neither were gored.

The main Pamplona hospital said that six people were brought in for treatment. They included a 30-year-old American man who fractured his left arm and a 16-year-old Spanish boy who lost part of a finger in the bullring, where a pile-up of runners occurred at the entrance. Four Spanish men between the ages of 19 and 45 also were injured.

Thursday’s early morning bull run was the first of eight scheduled for this year. The rest of each day usually includes massive drinking, eating and attending cultural events, as well as the bullfight each evening.

The nine-day Pamplona festival was popularised by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, and prior to the cancellations during Covid it had last been called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

Thousands of men and women participate in the ‘encierros’, or bull runs, trying to avoid the massive bulls and oxen that thunder along the narrow, twisting,  875-metre course on the cobblestone streets of Pamplona’s old quarter.

Eight people were gored during the 2019 festival. A total of 16 people have died in bull runs since 1910, most recently in 2009.

The bulls that run each morning are killed in the afternoon by professional bullfighters. Animal rights activists have campaigned against the slaughter of the animals, but bullfights are still popular among segments of Spanish society and an integral part of the San Fermín festival.

In April 2020, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organisation had sent a letter to the mayor of Pamplona, offering the city €250,000 if it agreed to permanently end the bull-running and subsequent bullfights. Here we published an opinion piece (24 April 2020) by Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK: Opinion: why bullfights should stay cancelled after Covid-19

ALSO READ: Activists stage ‘crime scene’ ahead of Pamplona’s running of the bulls.

An image from the ‘Running of the Bulls’ in Pamplona on 14 July 2018. (AFP / Ander Gillenea)

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