Spain’s San Fermín festival in Pamplona came to an end on Thursday, after a week of bull running that left a total of 52 people hospitalised, including five who were gored, but none too seriously.
The Navarra regional government said six people were treated for minor injuries following Thursday’s final run that lasted just over two minutes. Initially, the Spanish Red Cross had said two people needed treatment.
One runner escaped serious injury when one bull’s horn appeared to graze the right side of his head before he fell to the ground. ALSO READ: Three people gored during 5th ‘running of the bulls’ at San Fermín festival.
The festival’s eighth and final 8am run saw hundreds of people, mostly men and far fewer than usual, test their agility to accompany six fighting bulls and their guiding steers along an 875-metre route through Pamplona to the city’s bullring. The bulls are killed by professional bullfighters later in the day.
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