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Running of the Bulls - Pamplona

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Rusty Shackleford, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    So I just paid the deposit on a trip that will take me to Spain to run with the bulls. Needless to say, I'm excited! Anyone here ever done anything like this before?
  2. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    I'm too old for it now.
    Definitely would have done it when younger.
  3. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    Did something very similar in 2000. On one of those Uncle Sam-funded trips, we stopped in the Azores where some sort of festival was being held in which one bull at a time was released into the streets with a long, thick, braided rope around his neck. People would "fight" the bull in the streets, and when the bull would get somewhere he wasn't supposed to be (inside someone's house, etc.), everyone would grab the rope and pull him back into the streets.

    Two soldiers in my unit were mildly wounded when the bull ran them over. I successfully dodged the bull in the street while wearing Nike sandals and clutching a Carlsberg beer.

    Scary shit. But good times, for sure.
  4. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    As a hardcore Hemingway fan, I've always wanted to visit Pamplona and see the Festival de San Fermin.

    Don't skip the bullfights in the afternoon.
  5. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I did this once. Most incredible thing I ever did. If you can, it's a must do.

    Here's how I did it:

    I worked for an airline, so I flew for free. My friend, who worked for our agency (they received some free tickets as part of their pay) had planned a solo trip to Spain.

    She kept asking me and the guy that worked for me to join her and at the last minute I decided to go.

    We met is Madrid and went out that night until 6:00AM or so. Spain is nuts. You don't eat dinner until 10:00PM and the bars/clubs don't pick up until late.

    The next day we took the train to San Sebastian, which is absolutely beautiful. If you get a chance, be sure to visit. The tapas bars alone are worth the trip. And, if you can't get a hotel in Pamplona, this is a good home base.

    (When flying in, there are cheap flights from London to Bilbao, which isn't far from San Sebastion and/or Pamplona.)

    I has hurting from the night in Madrid and went home relatively early. My friend met a group of guys from England who had rented cars and were driving to Pamplona the next day and said we could hitch a ride with them.

    We met up late the next afternoon and drove to Pamplona. Parked on the edge of town, and made our way to the City center.

    It was crazy. Imagine the biggest street fair you can imagine and multiply it by 100. Every street is packed with people drinking.

    We bought bottles of sangria and partied all night. At one point we went by and saw the bulls that would be running the next day. We had some food. We hung out outside of bars where music was blasting all night long.

    Around dawn, they start moving you off of the bulls' path and use a truck with a water hose to clean off the streets.

    The guys we were with had done this before & had some tips.

    The deal is, you have to get into the bull ring before the last bull, because they close the doors to the ring after he gets in. So, if you start running near the beginning, you'll never get there.

    We started about half way, near City Hall.

    I was warned that if the person in front of you fell, you should step on him or push him, but not help him for fear of falling yourself.

    The bulls slip on the wet cobblestones on the turns.

    There's one turn in particular, I forget what it's called, but it's something like dead man's turn, because if you're on the outside of that turn and the bull slips, he's going to crush you into the wall.

    The Spaniards like to run as close to the bulls as possible and to smack them with rolled up newspapers or smack them on their ass.

    That's nuts. I just wanted to live.

    Every day you're there, the front pages of the local newspapers have pictures of the people that got gored the night before.

    We saw a few people with obviously fresh injuries when we were out drinking and years earlier, my brother's friend had his hand broken when a bull stepped on it.

    The run is around 8:00AM I think. So, at some point we stopped drinking and started to sober up.

    A couple of guys slept for an hour or so on the street.

    But, a couple of guys also bailed out on running -- including one big, strong guy who had previously run.

    I was getting thirsty/dehydrated but had luckily bought a couple of bottles of water hours earlier. (It was impossible to find for sale now.) But, as soon as I opened my water, each guy I was with asked for a sip, and it was soon gone.

    As the run came closer, I was dying of thirst.

    So, then the horn sounds and the bulls are released.

    The people behind you start running, so you do to. Then it becomes a wave of people that overwhelms you. Eventually, you see the bulls.

    The bulls -- six of them I think -- run with some steers which help to herd/shepherd them. It's when they get separated from the herd that they become spooked and dangerous.

    I was running on the right side of the street trying to stay out of the way and saw a bull or two go by.

    What I didn't expect was that a bunch of Spaniards were just standing on the course watching it all happen. They weren't running, they were just blocking my path.

    I pulled my best Joe Klecko "swim move" on them to get past, but I also had to run more towards the center of the path than I had expected.

    At one point, I started to fall. I was able to grab the waist of the person in front of me -- a total stranger -- and pull myself up before I hit the ground. This was just as the main wave of people and bulls was coming through and I was fairly terrified that I would be trampled.

    I got close to the bull ring and heard the horn sound that indicated that the last bull had entered the ring. I got through the gates just before they closed.

    The bulls are -- eventually -- guided out of the ring and into a pen.

    Once in the ring, I found my new friends and celebrated with them.

    But, it's still not over. Now, they release some smaller bulls, with cork on their horns, into the crowd of people in the bull ring. The whole point is for people to slap them and poke them and whatever.

    After a while, some young matadors in training guide the bull out of the ring.

    But, they keep doing this. They must have released six or more of the young bulls into the crowd.

    Eventually, I became satisfied with my accomplishments and climbed the fence out of the ring.

    The year I went, OLN televised each run and I was able to tivo it. It was pretty crazy. They introduce each bull like they're doing a starting lineup and they interviewed one of the guys I ran with afterwards.

    By the time it's done, it's still pretty early in the morning, and even though you've been up all night, you're on an adrenaline high.

    The guys we were with were driving back to San Sebastian, but we had a bus late that afternoon to Barcelona. We got our bags out of their car and eventually found a patch of grass on a highway median to catch some sleep.

    (The whole city is overrun with people with no place to sleep. Every inch of the city center is covered with people sleeping. We actually took a city bus a little ways to find an uncrowded place to crash.)

    I would love to do it again. It would be a great guys trip or bachelor party trip.

    It's been eight years or so since I went, but if you have any questions that I can answer, let me know.
  6. SteveRep44

    SteveRep44 Member

    The turn you're thinking of is Hamburger Wall.

    Too bad this isn't televised any more. ESPN2 used to do the Saturday morning (Spain time) run for a few years before OLN picked up all eight.
  7. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I always laugh at myself thinking about it. I can sit here in my chair and every time it comes up, I think "this is the most stupid thing anyone has ever thought of" or "look at these knuckleheads" etc. knowing full well that if circumstances placed me in Pamplona during the festival, I'd be right there in the front of the line.
  8. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Ha! I thought it was "Hamburger" something, but Hamburger turn didn't sound right.

    Yes, Hamburger Wall. Avoid it. Make sure you're on the inside of that turn.
  9. [​IMG]

    just sayin'
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  10. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    Two of my best friends did this and both said the same thing: It's a ton of fun, but the people are crazy and if you're not careful for every second, you quickly can find yourself in a situation you really don't want to be in.

  11. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    I'm excited as heck. I can't wait.

    I'm going by myself. I'm single, and none of my friends are willing to pony up the cash to join me. If anyone here is interested in making a new friend and running with the bulls, let me know. I'd love to have a travel partner, but at the same time, I've never travelled alone so I can see that being a lot of fun too.

    YankeeFan - did you ever get close enough to touch a bull? That's my goal. To run with them and get close enough to one that I can touch it or smack it with a newspaper. That, and not die. I've read that if you start too close to the beginning of the run, you'll never reach the stadium in time - the bulls are too fast, and the crowds too large. You said you started halfway and barely made it. I guess I'll have to decide once I get there and talk to some people.
  12. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Close enough to touch a bull? Are you nuts? No, I did not even attempt that.

    How long will you be there? It's every day for eight days -- I think. I was only there for one day. It was a holiday weekend in Spain and they said it was one of the largest crowds ever.

    If you have a couple of days, I'd run it once and see what you think before trying to smack a bull. (I remember seeing one guy, i think on OLN running between two bulls smacking each of them with one hand.)

    We were lucky in that we met up and travelled with a group of like 16 guys who were a lot of fun. But, if you're social, you'll find some people to pal around with.
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