The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, began as a festival to celebrate Saint Fermin, the patron saint of the Navarre region. The festival, known locally as Sanfermines, is held every year from July 6th ‘til the 14th. For seven days, the minute the clock strikes 8am, runners take over the streets of Pamplona, hoping to have the transcendent experience of running with the bulls. Six bulls are released from a local corral and run behind the runners for just over 800 meters to the bull ring, to await their fights later that evening.
In addition to the six fiery bulls, a small number of steers (castrated bulls that aren’t as aggressive as a fighting bull) are released in the streets as well. The steers help ensure that none of the bulls turn around or stop running halfway through. Running with a steer is considered to be less of an adventure, and the best runners seek out the bulls to make sure they have the best story for after the race.
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The morning begins with chants and prayers to San Fermín, asking for his guidance and protection during the run. The runners spend the final few moments before 8am jockeying for the best position- many jump up and down to see how close the bulls are before they start running. The best runner should be able to feel the bull’s breath on the seat of their pants before they jump aside to let the bull pass. Most days, the whole race only lasts for three or four minutes at most. After that, the runners and spectators head to the bar to raise a glass to celebrate their survival. Those who are not so lucky head to the hospital for some patching up.
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