A tradition was broken today. None of the fighting bulls from the Escolar stockbreeder did an about face and returned to the pen, as has happened when they appeared at the three previous San Fermín fiestas. And there was more: there were no gorings at this morning’s Running of the Bulls, despite the fact that eight runners carry the scars from their run-ins with the Escolar animals from previous editions of the world-famous Pamplona fiestas.
Rain soaked the streets of the northern Spanish city this morning, and there were fewer people there to run – perhaps put off by the added danger of the slippery cobblestones, not to mention the fearsome reputation of the Escolar bulls. But in the event, this second run at Sanfermines 2018 was clean: just three injuries, according to early reports from the emergency services, and there were some beautiful runs from those who dared to pit themselves against José Escolar’s bulls.
The rocket that is fired at the pen each morning to mark the start of the day’s run caught the tame steers sleeping, and they took as long as 15 seconds to emerge through the gate. Once they were out, they began their route up the hill with a slow pace and reluctance.
But the crowds that awaited them soon awoke their spirits, and they sped up. The steers got to the task at hand, which is to guide the herd up the streets toward the bullring, and they did so with military discipline. The animals took the lead and stepped on the gas, arriving in formation at the dangerous bend that gives way to Mercaderes street. Despite the fears over the rain-soaked cobblestones, none of the animals slipped – a demonstration, once more, of how effective the anti-slip coating that is applied to parts of the route is. The use of such a treatment is not to everyone’s taste, it has to be said, with some of the more experienced runners complaining that it takes away some of the spectacle of the Running of the Bulls, preventing the herd from breaking up and denying the experts from putting their experience to the true test.
As usual, Mercaderes street was taken quickly, and saw the usual pushing and shoving, horns passing dangerously close to the runners and more than a few people caught between the animals and trampled to the ground.
A small pile-up formed at the entrance to the bullring, and the four bulls that arrived there found the sand soggy and slippery.
The fifth fighting bull soon arrived, and after what seemed like an eternity the sixth and last of the black animals appeared, after having fallen on the Cuesta de Santo Domingo and ending up finishing the route unaccompanied. Alone in the ring, he went around in circles a few times, confused about what should have come next, but soon found the way thanks to the waved capes of the herdsmen.
The clock was stopped after two minutes, 55 seconds, after an unusual run for the José Escolar bulls, given that none of them turned around at the start and returned to the pen, and there were no gorings. As for the injuries, one runner suffered a blow to the face, a second has a possible fracture in the right leg, and a third has head injuries. Despite that final summary, the run was relatively incident free, despite the rain, the slippery surfaces and the prior anticipation of what the always-dangerous José Escolar bulls might have up their sleeves.
English version by Simon Hunter.