What’s it like to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain? You can ask the folks on today’s run—if you can catch them—or you can read about IgoUgo’s intrepid (some would say insane) members who risked everything for a chance to participate in the Fiesta of San Fermin’s boldest event.
Euroazz hits all of the festival’s highlights in his journal San Fermin Festival – Pamplona, beginning with the opening ceremony: “San Fermin starts at noon on July 6 every year with the sangria-and-champagne opening ceremony (called the Chupinazo) where the mayor of the city fires a cannon to start the festivities. It’s basically a food and drink fight with eggs, tomato sauce, flour, and mustard being hurled in amongst liters of sangria and champagne being sprayed—and drunk! Get your red bandanas out!” Also get a white outfit, though Euroazz questions “why the tradition is white clothing when it gets so filthy, smelly, and sticky.”
Euroazz’s attitude towards the festival mirrors that of many runners as he goes from describing it as “lots of laughs, lots of sangria, and a few crazy bulls chucked in for good measure” to calling the run an “ideal event for people with eyes in the back of their heads” and saying that he had “never been so $#%!-scared in [his] entire life.” The run’s organizers, he explains, let out two small groups of bulls a couple of minutes apart (to maximize the terror?), but the run lasts only 2-3 minutes. Luckily, he lived to tell about his “biggest adrenaline rush” ever—and to move onward to relaxation in San Sebastian.
Kindred spirit Sean Patrick says he began his “life’s to-do list” by Running with the Bulls in Pamplona. That sounds a bit more glamorous than the reality, which for Sean Patrick involved sleeping wherever he could find grass; spending a night in a cold sandwich shop; and crashing in the hallway of one of the best hotels in town until a guard discovered him.
When it was finally time for him to run (which probably felt like a relief after his accommodations issues), the bulls were gone before he knew it. But, he says, “then came the real scare”: emergency medical workers evacuating a runner with the worst wound Sean Patrick had ever seen. It seems our uninjured runner put the incident out of his mind though: “My heart raced for an hour, as I had not only finally done what I had waited years to do, but I also saw firsthand just how amazing it is.”
Lest you think every IgoUgo member is full of bull enthusiasm, we found two who participated wholeheartedly in the Fiesta of San Fermin without stepping in front of a single horned animal. LetsGoThere was a bit of an accidental tourist, saying, “I had heard of running with the bulls, but I was not prepared for the massive partying spectacle of the San Fermin Festival. The bull-running finishes by 8:05 every morning, which leaves the vast majority of the day to explore the city and to drink.” He enjoyed himself but warns, “outside of the festival, there's not much going on in Pamplona, which can make for long days if you're not ready to relive your 20s.” And blair has a second warning: “I had planned on running, but laying eyes on gory pictures and speaking to some locals who said you'd have to be crazy to run, I was slowly changing my mind.” She opted to view the mayhem from above and reports that the sight was “kind of like Christmas: you wait and wait and then it's over in a matter of minutes.” Satisfied, she proceeded to “walk around the town, talking to locals, meeting some fellow Americans, dancing, drinking, and drinking.”