On July 7 At 8am in Pamplona, Spain, I ran with the bulls. As one of many tourists dressed in red and white from around the world, I ran as the horn sounded to let the bulls out of the gate. My Australian buddy who I met only minutes before had already started jogging well before the horn sounded because of confusion amongst all of us runners with little idea of when to start running.
In my mind I imagined the bulls pounding through the streets but for a while during the three and half minute run I didn’t understand the fuss about this. I couldn’t hear or see any bulls. Wherever they were and whenever they would arrive would be a mystery. Was I already to far ahead that they would not catch up to me? That would be a disappointment.
No matter my thoughts I jogged with heavy feet and my high but in front of me as I maintained by balance amongst the thousands, or maybe it was hundreds of runners doing the same. In such a chaotic event it helps to feel like I have just a little control or advantage and so with my heavy feet I guaranteed I would not fall down to be trampled by other runner, or those mysterious bulls I still could not hear or see.
I looked over my back each time the runners in front did until after a few minutes when I no longer needed to look. The runners in front of me already began parting like the red sea to both sides of the wall in anticipation of the bulls who were finally within sight. I took one look back and pushed my way frantically to the side of the nearest wall where I and many others took cover until the bulls past us. With an incredible view I stood there in awe as they passed at full speed just within meters. Their size and power were incredible up close.
Within moments the excitement decreased to almost nothing and we all detached ourselves from the wall to continue jogging.
We didn’t anticipate other bulls lagging behind so as a mass of hundreds we causally jogged until we reached the small opening to the plaza de toros. The mass of people picked up speed near the opening and without knowing why I did too.
I entered effortlessly only to realize that one or two of the bulls were actually only 20 seconds or so behind us at that point.
That’s what it feels like to run with the bulls (unless you get trampled). The race is a few moments of pure excitement. I felt the kind of rush I have only felt a handful of other times in my life. But the few moments are something I will value and refer to whenever I am feeling like I need to do something crazy, like being chased by bulls.
-Photo Credit: blogs.sacbee.com/
- The bull runs have claimed 15 lives since 1911 and each year dozens of runners are injured.