Spain: Safer running of bulls; 1 person hurt in Pamplona festival

July 11, 2008 4:50:24 AM PDT
A fast, smooth running of the bulls left just one daredevil injured Friday in Pamplona's annual San Fermin Festival and nobody gored, officials said.

The six fighting bulls from a ranch known for breeding swift and fierce animals stayed in a tight pack with accompanying, bell-tinkling steer for much of the half-mile (850-meter) run.

Such a formation makes the run safer because the big danger is that a rogue bull can get nervous and prone to charge when it runs on its own.

Javier Solano, veteran San Fermin commentator for Spanish National Television, called the run - the fifth at this year's festival - "almost textbook perfect."

The bulls came from the Jandilla ranch, whose animals hold the record for gorings in a single run at Pamplona: eight in one sprint back in 2004.

But this time nobody was gored and only one runner was hurt, suffering abdominal injuries, the Navarra regional government said.

Late in the course one black bull veered into a protective fence and stood still for a few seconds but did not attack any of the people standing right in front of it.

Earlier, a runner made the mistake of not looking behind him every few seconds and a half-ton bull barreled right into his back, throwing him to the ground.

Another thrill-seeker bumped into the side of a bull and was tossed, and yet another who looked to be a foreigner held a video camera high above his head as he trotted. Runners are barred from taking photographs because such a distraction is considered dangerous.

So far this year about half a dozen runners have been gored, although none seriously.

The runs to the city bullring take place at 8 a.m. daily and are the highlight of a centuries-old festival that became world famous with Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."

Professional matadors fight and kill the bulls each afternoon of the festival.

Fourteen runners have died in the running of the bulls since record-keeping began in 1924.

The last fatality from a goring was a 22-year-old American, Matthew Tassio, in 1995. In 2003, a 63-year-old Pamplona native, Fermin Etxeberri, was trampled in the head by a bull and died after spending several months in a coma.