Bull! Start Running!

Pamplomna – July 8th, 2009

I wake up at about 5am, to the same noise as yesterday. This time I don’t have to worry about stumbling around getting ready. I somehow managed to get to sleep in my clothes and only need to chuck my shoes on.

The bus ride in, I catch up on some much needed sleep before being chased by a pack of bulls, literally. Once off the bus, I go and have one last nervous piss, before going to find everyone. I don’t find anyone, but run into John and Dean, who are also running, so head in with them. We pit stop and grab a gatorade to hydrate before going to the cattle pen.

This is where every man and his dog waits to run with the bulls. We hang out and see some photos from the paper. Luckily there wasn’t anything too bad in the paper. It gets a bit nervery towards the end of the wait. About 15 minutes before the run, the place is jam packed full of people, and its very tight. They eventually let us out onto the streets and I lose John and Dean. And start walking down the narrow streets. I get to about 50m past Dead Mans Corner. And begin Jumping up and down, the excitement is just getting to me.

I keep jumping up and down. The anticipation is burning up inside of myself. Everyone around is either like myself or jittery and on edge thinking ‘what the hell have I got myself into?’. Then all of a sudden the first rocket goes off and my heart starts pumping a hundred beats faster, and people start screaming and yelling.

I start jogging and walking a bit. Just to get my body moving. Then all of a sudden a heap of people run on by, I take this as the cue that the bulls are not far behind. And I’m not wrong, I see one massive bull(the steer) and go “Fuck” and start running as hard as I can. About 200m up the road on the final stretch before the turn into the stadium 3 fighting bulls run past about a metre away from where I am, still trying to dodge slow runners and not get in the road of the angry beasts.

At some point in time, running down around the corner some fool trips over, so I try to jump him, only instead of clearing him, his thrusts an elbow up at the last minute and connects with my foot, sending me on a tumble just before the entrance. Then as I look to my right, just over my should I see 2 massive bulls running past litterly half a metre fromwhere I’ve tumbled.

I get up as quickly as possible and run as fast as I can into the arena, still with all that adrenalin pumping through my veins. As you run through the corridor into the arena you get a sense of safeness, til you realise how small it is. Then as you come out into the circular arena, you get smashed in the face by a huge roar that still to this day sends tingles down my spine. Its an amazing experience to just make it into the arena and be met by that huge crowd cheering everyone coming in.

I quickly make my way to the left side of the arena (not trying to make the mistake of the stupid guy yesterday that went left, then right and got cleaned up by a bull). I gather my breath for a second, still puffing I let out a massive yell and raise my arms in the air. A lot of people are doing it. I catch my breath for a second and then spot John and he snaps a quick photo of myself in the Arena.

In the arena, after the Encierro.

In the Arena after the bullrun!

We try to get a good position in the ring for the second round of entertainment. Yep, after the main event, they let out smaller and younger bulls into the arena to litterly ‘go nuts’ on the idiots who get in their way. Its rather hilarious seeing still drunken men literally getting into the way of bulls to show how ‘manly’ they are. I just think its rather stupid. But at least the bulls don’t have horns, they put rubber on the ends so that they don’t gore anyone.

Just one example of the carnage in the arena.

Some carnage in the arena.

They let about 6 bulls out into this rather large arena (bigger than I expected) and let them run around for a few minutes each. I remember standing on the fence, on the edge of the circle of where the people where surrounding the bull, and the bull just looking dead at me. A tad scary.

A few girls (Ena, Alica, Tessa, and Angela from the campsite) spot myself in the arena and yell out to me and snap a few photos before yelling at me and pointing behind me, only to see the crowd running in the opposite direction and a bull chasing them. Another tad scary moment.

Another example of the 'little' bulls running amok.

That guy is gonna feel it tomorrow.

After the last bull, a big raucious applause goes up throughout the arena and everyone makes their way out. We walk past a shop and grab a bite to eat before going to the bus stop. A lot of the tour group is going to San Sebastian today, so the few that are remaining at the site are either going home or have been their already.

After some breakky and a shower, I chill out with those that are remaining. We just chill by the pool, and do nothing. Its a fairly quiet afternoon compared to yesterdays. But Dean and I make our way into town on the 4pm bus to get into the mood.

I have to go make a police report and he has to go get a train ticket. So we plan to meet up afterwards. I thought my police report would take ages, but it was done in 5 minutes, so I go to get to the station but don’t find it. So instead I go and get some more sangria, fill up my slouch and go and drink with the locals.

I mingle around til about 8-9 and go back to the bus stop and find them there chowing on KFC. A bus shortly arrives and Ena, Alica and Tess get off and recruit myself to go see a bullfight, but as we get down there we see people coming out, flooding out to be precise, so we go and find a place to eat and drink. Before walking around the streets before heading back to camp and crashing.

This entry was published on October 23, 2009 at 10:58 am. It’s filed under Backpacking, Drinking, Pamplona, Running with the Bulls, San Fermin, Spain, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Bull! Start Running!

  1. Karthik on said:


    Liked your description of the run. I am going to the San Fermin festival this year but I am not running. I am researching on the tour group campsites. Was it worth the price for you? Considering the shuttle from/to camp, general safety and cleanliness. I just need a place to crash and wash up b4 I leave Pamplona and camp conjures up images of vomit soaked unusable camps/bathrooms and the like). Thanks!

  2. Hey mate,

    definitely a good idea to camp somewhere. Most tour group campsites are all similar. The only difference being how far from Pamplona you actually are. They all offer the same thing and its the cheapest accomm you will find apart from camping in the city park near the bus stop with the thousands of other brave souls. As far as the campsite itself – its the usual. It will end up with vomit and smells but they are fairly clean and useable. You are only there for a few days so live it up.

    I may be heading back – may be means I will be. So might see ya there.

    The run isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but the fiesta itself is a fantastic time. One of the best fiesta’s you will go to.

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