PAMPLONA, Spain (Reuters) – One man was gored in the arm among scores more injured on Thursday during Spain’s centuries-old San Fermin bull-running festival where protesters complained new safety measures were spoiling the buzz.
Revellers sprint near bulls and steers during the running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
The Red Cross said 67 people were treated after the latest run in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona, most for minor cuts and bruises but seven requiring hospital.
One of those was badly gored, with the official festival web site publishing an image of a bull thrusting its horn into his forearm as two steers trampled over him on the floor while another man also lay underneath and other people rushed by.
Three people were also gored on Sunday.
On each morning of the week-long festival, hundreds of people, many wearing white shirts with red scarves, line the narrow streets at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) to run from the bulls who head to a ring where they are killed later.
For the first time, dozens of participants staged a sit-down before the fire cracker marking the bulls’ release to complain that measures to train the steers had over-sanitised the event.
The route runs for 875 metres (950 yards) through Pamplona’s medieval streets, though most runners sprint little more than 40 metres before being overtaken by the stampeding herd.
The run typically includes half a dozen larger and faster steers, which help keep the herd focused on running all the way to the ring, along with half a dozen specially-bred smaller, aggressive bulls from different breeders each day of the week.
However, protesters claimed that efforts to train the steers to run faster and keep the bulls in a tighter pack, plus the application of a non-slip chemical along the route, had made the run too safe and removed much of the thrill.
The last death was a decade ago.
“The steers are over trained,” said Alberto Buitrago, who has been taking part since 2002. “They block off the bulls via an arrow formation and keep the bulls away from the runners … we’re losing all the essence of the bull run.”
Before the festival, there was also a protest from animal rights activists who say few of the million or so people who come to Pamplona know the bulls die after the daily runs.
San Fermin was made globally famous when it featured in the novel “The Sun Also Rises” by U.S. author Ernest Hemingway.
Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne