Running of the Bulls In Pamplona

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Monument in Pamplona
The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish: encierro, from the verb encerrar, to corral, to enclose) is a practice that involves running in front of a small group of cattle, typically six, of the toro bravo breed that have been let loose on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets.
The most famous running of the bulls is that of the eight-day festival ofSanfermines in honour of Saint Fermin in Pamplona, although they are also traditionally held in other places such as towns and villages across Spain,Portugal, in some cities in Mexico, and southern France during the summer.

The origin of this event comes from the need to transport the bulls from the off-site corrals where they had spent the night, to the bullring where they would be killed in the evening. Youngsters would jump among them to show off their bravado. In Pamplona and other places, the six bulls in the event are still those that will feature in the afternoon bullfight of the same day.
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Pamplona bull run
Spanish tradition says the true origin of the run began in northeastern Spain during the early 14th century. While transporting cattle in order to sell them at the market, men would try to speed the process by hurrying their cattle using tactics of fear and excitement. After years of this practice, the transportation and hurrying began to turn into a competition, as young adults would attempt to race in front of the bulls and make it safely to their pens without being overtaken. When the popularity of this practice increased and was noticed more and more by the expanding population of Spanish cities, a tradition was created and stands to this day.

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Saint Fermin, honored in Pamplona



Pamplona, 7 July 2005. People climb to the fences as the bulls run by and cross the Town Hall Plaza
The Pamplona encierro is the most popular in Spain and has been broadcast live byRTVE, the public Spanish national television channel, for over 30 years. It is the highest profile event of the San Fermin festival, which is held every year from July 6–14. The first bull running is on July 7, followed by one on each of the following mornings of the festival, beginning every day at 8 am. Among the rules to take part in the event are that participants must be at least 18 years old, run in the same direction as the bulls, not incite the bulls, and not be under the influence of alcohol.

In Pamplona a set of wooden fences is erected to direct the bulls along the route and to block off side streets. A double wooden fence is used in those houses where there is enough space for it, while in other parts the buildings of the street act as barriers. The gaps in the barricades are wide enough for a human to slip through, but narrow enough to block a bull. The fence is composed of around three thousand separate pieces and while some parts are left for the duration of the fiesta others are mounted and dismounted every morning. Spectators can only stand behind the second fence, whereas the space between the two fences is reserved for security and medical personnel and also to participants who need cover during the event.
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Police barrier at the beginning of the running stops people until the first rocket is fired.
The encierro begins with runners singing a benediction. It is sung three times, each time being sung both in Spanish and Basque. The benediction is a prayer given at a statue of Saint Fermin, patron of the festival and the city, to ask the saint’s protection and can be translated into English as “We ask Saint Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the encierro and give us his blessing”. The singers finish by shouting “Viva San Fermín!, Gora San Fermin!” (“Long live Saint Fermin”, in Spanish and Basque). Most runners dress in the traditional clothing of the festival which consists of a white shirt and trousers with a red waistband and neckerchief. Also some of them hold the day’s newspaper rolled to draw the bulls’ attention from them if necessary.
The running
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Pamplona, 2007. Bulls following some runners enter the bull ring from the Callejón, where the event ends. The bulls can be seen in the foreground and background of the picture.

A first rocket is set off at 8 a.m. to alert the runners that the corral gate is open. A second rocket signals that all six bulls have been released. The third and fourth rockets are signals that all of the herd has entered the bullring and its corral respectively, marking the end of the event. The average duration between the first rocket and the end of the encierro is four minutes.
The herd is composed of the six bulls to be fought in the afternoon, six steers (oxen, castrated bulls) that run with the bulls, and three more steers that leave the corral two minutes later. The function of the oxen is to guide the herd. The average speed of the herd is 24 km/h (15 mph).

The length of the run is 826 metres (903 yards). It goes through four streets of the old part of the city (Santo Domingo, Town Hall Square, Mercaderes and Estafeta) and a section called Telefónica before entering into the bullring The fastest part of the route is up Santo Domingo and across the Town Hall Square, but in the past the bulls often became separated at the entrance to Estafeta Street as they slowed down. One or more would slip going into the turn at Estafeta {“La Curva”), but, with the use of the new anti-slip surfacing, most of the bulls negotiate the turn onto Estafeta and are often ahead of the steers. This has resulted in a quicker run. Runners are not permitted in the first 100 meters of the encierro, which is uphill and the bulls are much faster.
Injuries, fatalities and sanitary attention
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Two injured runners are treated by medical services
Every year, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run. Not all of the injuries require taking the patients to the hospital: in 2013 50 people were taken by ambulance to Pamplona’s hospital, with this number nearly doubling that of 2012.
Goring is much less common but potentially life threatening. In 2013 for example, 6 participants were gored along the festival, in 2012 only 4 runners were injured by the horns of the bulls with exactly the same number of gored people in 2011, 9 in 2010 and 10 in 2009; with one of the latter killed. As most of the runners are male, only 5 women have been gored since 1974. Previously to that date running was prohibited for women.
Another major risk is runners falling and piling up (a “montón”) at the entrance of the bullring , which acts as a funnel as it is much narrower than the previous street. In such cases injuries come both from asphyxia and contusions to those in the pile and from goring if the bulls crush into the pile. This kind of blocking of the entrance has occurred at least ten times in the history of the run, the last occurring in 2013 and the first dating back to 1878. A runner died of suffocation in one such pile up in 1977.
Overall, since record-keeping began in 1910, 15 people have been killed in the bull running of Pamplona, most of them due to being gored To minimize the impact of injuries every day 200 people collaborate in the medical attention. They are deployed in 16 sanitary posts (every 50 metres on average), each one with at least a physician and a nurse among their personnel. Most of these 200 people are volunteers, mainly from the Red Cross. In addition to the medical posts, there are around 20 ambulances. This organization makes it possible to have a gored person stabilized and taken to a hospital in less than 10 minutes.
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Fire bull and children running from it (Tudela, Navara).
Many animal rights activists oppose the event. PETA activists created the “running of the nudes”, a demonstration the day before the beginning of San Fermín in Pamplona. By marching naked, they protested the festival and the following bullfight, arguing the bulls are tortured for entertainment.

The city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, cancelled its Sanmiguelada running of the bulls after 2006, citing public disorder associated with the event. After the event was cancelled in San Miguel, the city of Salvatierra, also in the state ofGuanajuato, picked up the event. It is now called La Marquesada and the three-day event is held during the last weekend of the month of September or first weekend of October.
Bull 10a Running of the Bulls in the French Quarter of New Orleans
“Running of the Bulls” in the French Quarter of New Orleans

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