The 'encierro' or The Running Of The Bulls is the single most characteristic event of the Fiesta of San Fermin. It is the event which has given the Fiesta world-wide fame and which is broadcast around the world during the fiesta in July. It is held at eight o'clock each morning from the 7th to the 14th of July inclusive. At 15th on morning will be a joke bullrun, the villavesa (coach-bus line) runnnig
It consists largely of young men (although women may also run) who run in front of the bulls to lead them from their pen up and into the bull-ring. It usually lasts from two to three minutes - although if there are complications due to loose bulls it can last much longer. Even some people may thins the contrary, the participants are not only from Iruñea-Pamplona, but also from other parts and they run very well indeed.
The length of the run is some 800 metres (about half a mile) and you don't have to sign up anywhere to take part; you just enter into the run and choose the street where you will run and try to do as best as you can.
Preparation of the bull running
The run began as part of the process of moving bulls from the edge of town to the bullring. During the mid 1800s, runners began to join the herd on their journey. Nowadays a lot of people participate every day and it has become a very crowdy event. With the first rays of light of the early morning the woodenfencing which lines the route is erected. Then the night-long revellers aregradually cleared from the streets by the local police. The street-cleaners then move in to mop up the accumulated rubbish and dirt caused by the night-long revelry.
All spectators must stay behind the double-fencing along the route. Only first-aid teams can be found in the space between the double fencing. One practical reason forthis is, that the runners have the space to jump over the fence should they need to. So now that the fencing has been shut in, the only way to enter is at the gateway at the Town Hall or at the gateway of the Plaza del Mercado.
Many runners who gather at the bottom of Santo Domingo , the start of the run, crowd together and sing a homily to the image of San Fermin which is placed in a niche on the wall decorated with the scarves of the peñas. The song goes like this: "A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición" ("We ask San Fermín, as our Patron, to guide us through the Bull Run and give us his blessing").
A rocket goes off at the moment the bulls are let out into the street. A second rocket goes off to let everyone know that all the bulls are now in the street.
The bull running starts
This is the moment of truth in the Bull-Run; the bulls run like the wind. It is impossible to race them or even keep up with them for very long (interesting information for anyone with athletic pretensions) : The way to do it is, to start off slowly when the bulls are still a good distance behind, and as they draw nearer start running as fast as you can, before they get too close, hang in near them for a short time, as near as you are prepared to risk your skin, and then get out of the way as cleanly as possible. Be careful not to cross the paths of other runners. Look for a gap in the fence to slip through or jump over, or a space against the wall of the street.
As well as the danger inherent in running in front of a bull (it's worth remembering that this is an animal which weights about 600 kilos - some 120 stone - and which has two hard, sharp horns which can cut through practically anything, not to mention possible bruising from just being stepped on, there is also the problem of overcrowding in the run. So you have to be careful not to get pushed over or knocked down by other runners. The crowding is particularly dense at the weekends where the number of visitors to the Fiesta more than doubles.
When the risk has gone
Each section of the run has its own particular characteristics. Every year many runners always choose to run the same section: In Santo Domingo the run is very fast and spectacular and is risky at the corner of Mercaderes, while in Estafeta it is somewhat slower and clearer. The run into the bull-ring is exciting and colourful.
Once the bulls have gone past the run has finished for you and you will probably feel a special satisfaction and relief that nothing has happened to you. That is, as long as a bull doesn't turn back when it gets separated from the others - something which does happen from time to time and which creates a potentially highly dangerous situation. When you hear a third rocket go off it is to let you know that all the bulls have arrived inside the ring and a fourth and final rocket is sent off when all the bulls have been safely led into their pens. Between that first rocket and final rocket only a couple of minutes will normally have gone by - but what a couple of minutes!
On the 15th July there is a parody of the run made by some die-hards who refuse to face the fact that the Fiesta is all over and who run in front of the early-morning bus which comes up Santo Domingo street . Well, that's what the running of the bulls is all about. It is very dangerous, so if you have been up all night, think carefully about what is the best thing for you to do at that decisive moment - to drag your tired body off to bed, or to take the risk of running , or to find a safe place to watch the run from behind the fences.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?