Three people were injured at the first of Pamplona’s bull runs, which began at 8am on Friday as part of the world-famous Sanfermines festival. Runs, or encierros, are held every morning between July 7 and 14, and they are the best-known part of the Navarrese capital’s annual celebration.
The Friday run was fast: it lasted two minutes and 58 seconds, a full minute under the average time, and there were numerous falls all along the way.
Three runners were hurt when two of the animals were separated from the herd. The first was gored in the lower abdomen on Cuesta de Santo Domingo, the second was hit in the chest at City Hall square, and a third sustained leg and head injuries on the corner of Estafeta street and Bajada de Javier.
A straggler took aim at a man who had taken cover in a doorway and tossed him in the air
Two of the injured runners are American and the third is a local man from the Navarre region. Medical authorities said a 35-year-old US national whose initials are E. H. was injured in the chest area, but that he is not in serious condition.
A 29-year-old American, A.P., was gored near the scrotum but his injuries are not serious either, said the medical report. The Spanish man, F. A. T., 46, fared worse. He was gored in the right thigh and sustained head injuries, and his condition was described as serious.
There was a lot of anticipation before Friday’s encierro, as the bulls that participated in the race are the property of a breeder from Cádiz, José Cebada Gago, who has developed a reputation for producing notoriously dangerous animals. Records kept between 1980 and 2015 show that Cebada Gago bulls were responsible for the second-highest number of injuries at the encierros (27). They were only outdone by the Miuras, with an injury toll of 35.
Last year, Cebada Gago bulls ran on the second day, and that became one of the most dangerous encierros in the entire history of the Sanfermines: six runners were gored and four more were left with cuts and bruises.
Since 1910, 16 people have lost their lives along the 875-meter route leading from the bull pen to the city’s bullring through narrow, cobble-stoned streets.
Following tradition, the runners congregated on Cuesta de Santo Domingo a few minutes before 8am and sang to a figure of Saint Fermin, the patron saint of this festivity, to ask for protection during the run.
When the church bells rang eight times, a rocket went off and the gates of the pen were swung open. One of the Cebada Gagos soon moved into high gear, delivering the first blow of the year. His victim was hurled in the air before coming down hard on the pavement.
The non-skid liquid that local authorities had poured on the Mercaderes curve did its job, and the bulls took the turn with barely a slip, then roared down Estafeta street, where the bulk of the runners were waiting for them.
There were two stragglers in the herd; the first one took aim at a man who had taken cover in a doorway and tossed him in the air. Not long after that, the last two bulls joined the rest of the herd inside the ring.
English version by Susana Urra.