The bull run in Spain, or why they are having problems with their economy


I was watching the news last week on the results of the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. They were showing near misses of drunken runners and also a few who were gored. After reading Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, I became interested in the event.

My first bull experience was as a teenager. I was almost a memory in my mother’s mind. While dove hunting in Boones Creek one hot September afternoon, I decided to take a short cut across a small pasture to a prime hunting location.

Unknown to me, one of the famous Boones Creek Angus bulls was also enjoying the lazy September afternoon in the same patch of grass. I saw him about the same time he saw me. He raised his head slowly, chomping. He took a couple of steps in my direction. Even though he was de-horned he was big enough to squash about anything including a dumb teenager crossing his pasture. I took off at high speed. He kept on eating. As I grew older I decided to write about bull.

I looked up the annual event in Pamplona, Spain and found the rules for runners, which are common sense and funny. The Festival, of course, is mainly just a big party lasting until the wee hours for nine nights.

The following rules for runners came from the official Spanish website and stated, “what is not allowed in the bull run,” I added commentary. One reason given on the website for rules states… “Their main role is to stop the odd idiot from inciting the bulls from behind, to avoid the bulls turning round and running backwards, and to help any bulls that have stopped or have been separated from their companions to continue running towards the bullring.”

What is not allowed for runners:

• People under 18 years of age, must not run or participate. That means only adults are allowed to be gored. Good rule.

• Crossing police barriers placed to ensure that the run goes off smoothly. Why would anyone cross a police barrier to get gored or crushed by drunken runners?

• Standing in areas and places along the route that have been expressly prohibited by the municipal police force. This really means they will need vacant space for ambulances.

• Before the bulls are released, waiting in corners, blind spots, doorways or in entrances to other establishments located along the run. I would want to be in one of those blind spots.

• Leaving doors of shops or entrances to apartments open along the route. The responsibility for ensuring these doors are closed lies with the owners or tenants of the properties. Why would anyone want a bull to come to visit?

• Being in the bull run while drunk, under the effects of drugs or in any other improper manner. This rule eliminates 95% of the runners. Who wants to check the breath of 5,000 runners?

• Carrying objects that are unsuitable for the run to take place correctly. Does this mean no fanny cushions or protective cups?

• Wearing inappropriate clothes or footwear for the run. Does that mean no high heels then?

• Inciting the bulls or attracting their attention in any manner, and for whatever reason, along the route of the run or in the bullring. Who wants to draw a bull’s attention to himself? Point to the other guy.

• Running backwards towards the bulls or running behind them. Does this mean you lose or are disqualified?

• Holding, harassing or maltreating the bulls and stopping them from moving or being led to the pens in the bullring. Would a bull let you hold him?

• Stopping along the run and staying on the fence, barriers or in doorways in such a way that the run or the safety of other runners is jeopardized. But it’s okay using your fingernails to climb a wall.

• Taking photographs inside the run, or from the fences or barriers without due authorization. Ok, who took this picture?

• Carrying objects that are unsuitable for the good order and security of the bull run. Does this mean no billfolds or passports? How are they going to know where to send the body?


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