Monday, July 18, 2011

Still they do it

Since Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”, the Pamplona annual festival of San Fermin has become an international event with millions each year crowding into the town to join in with the bull run each morning.

In his later years Hemingway used to book room 217 in the Gran Hotel La Perla at the corner of the Plaza Castilla each year so that he could watch the morning runs. He never took part in the runs though, leaving that to the younger men and women who did not have the shrapnel wounds in their legs that he had.

Inevitably, runners are gored by the bulls each year and occasionally there are some who die from their wounds. As the number of people who take part in the morning runs increases, so does the risk of injury.

There have been a number of injuries this year starting on day one. An Australian man was seriously injured when a bull sliced through an artery in his leg; he is expected to survive. Apparently he had been taunting the bull by waving his arms, a reckless thing to do when faced with a huge beast armed with pointed horns.

On a different day, one man decided to run naked – not the done thing. To the delight of the crowd, a bull singled him out and tossed him into the air several times. He apparently walked away so it is not clear the extent of his injuries.

It is one thing to be a highly paid matador facing a bull in combat and something else to be a tourist with no experience chasing a bull for the thrill of it.

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