FOUR people have been injured as more than 1,000 thrill seekers tested their agility and courage by racing alongside fighting bulls through the streets of Pamplona in the first run of this year’s San Fermin festival.
Navarra Hospital said three people sustained head injuries while another suffered an arm injury. No one was gored.
The streets were packed with runners dressed in matching white and red outfits, as the balconies above overflowed with people watching the spectacle.
In the nationally televised morning runs, participants dash along with six bulls and accompanying steer down a narrow 930-yard course from a holding pen to Pamplona’s bull ring.
The bulls then face matadors and almost certain death in afternoon bullfights.
The nine-day fiesta became world famous following its fictionalised treatment in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926
novel The Sun Also Rises, and is now one of Spain’s most important tourist events.
Yesterday’s run lasted two minutes, 28 seconds.
Many people suffered falls and were trampled by the bulls or other runners. In one incident, four bulls crashed into a group
of participants close to the
end of the race, and several people narrowly missed being gored.
Bull runs are a traditional part of summer festivals across Spain, and dozens of people are injured each year.
Ten were gored in last year’s festival. Fifteen have died from gorings in the San Fermin event since 1924.
However, each year more wounds are caused by racers falling on the slippery streets than by the bulls. To combat this, the town authorities have coated the streets with a sticky paint to help create friction.
Hemingway’s novel follows a group of friends pulled apart by the drink, madness and lust of the partying town during the event.