Stoke Travel’s Running With Bulls FAQs
There’s so much to know about Pamplona’s San Fermin festival and its famous bull run, so we compiled this little list of bull running frequently asked questions. If you have more questions for us ask any of our expert running with the bulls guides at reception or the bar.
What’s The Schedule?
Stoke Travel’s buses for the opening ceremony leave at 8:30 and 10 and will drop you at the city bus station. They return from the same place to the campsite at 17:30, 18:30 & 22:00. Organise your bus tickets at reception.
The festivals begin at midday on the 6th, with the chupinazo in Pamplona’s town square. Some small fireworks will signal the beginning of the festival after the mayor and other dignitaries have blessed the festival. This is one of the craziest, most intriguing, human crushes you’ll ever be in. If you like being squeezed in with 1000s of people spraying sparkling wine in your face, then this is for you. Otherwise, stick to the main square where you can watch it on the big screen, partake in a sangria bukkake, penguin slide on the tiles, and otherwise play up. After that, the whole city erupts into a street party, and we wander around, find hidden plazas with live bands and DJs, drink more, dance and be merry until it’s time to return to camp for the campsite party.
Then from the 7th until the 14th there are bull runs at 8am (more info to follow) and finish in the bullfighting ring with “playful” younger bulls that enjoy tossing people around.. The buses from the campsite to Pamplona for the run leave at 5:30am and return at 11am. Again, organise your travel at reception.
Every night there are concerts and parties and the whole event climaxes on the 14th at midnight with a fireworks display. The buses from the campsite to the nighttime parties leave at 21:00 and return at 1:00 the following morning/night (1am).
If for whatever reason (too much sangria, too much getting lucky, too much ripping it on the dancefloor) you miss the buses, just jump in a taxi and take your drive of shame home. Their phone number is +34 680 87 22 00.
THe Bull Run starts at 8am every morning
Every year the encierro, or bull run, takes place every morning from the 7th until the 14th of July, at exactly 8am in the morning. You’ll know that the bulls have been released from their holding pen when you hear the cannon fire, and if you haven’t completely soiled your pants at that stage, it’s time to start running. The bull run should take around four minutes, unless a bull has been separated from the herd, in which case it will last longer on account of the chaos.
WHERE IS THE RUNNING WITH THE BULLS?
The running of the bulls begins in the bull pen on Calle Santo Domingo, just outside Pamplona’s old town, and continues for just over 800 metres to the city’s bullfighting ring. Pamplona is the capital of Navarra, an autonomous region of northern Spain, not far from the Pyrenees Mountains and the French border. Pamplona is a little over and hour from San Sebastian, about four-and-a-half hours from Barcelona, and a little less from Madrid.
Why do they run with bulls?
The reasons for the bull run are as different as there are runners. For many locals it’s a tradition that runs in the family, for some foreigners it’s seen as an incomparable adrenaline rush. The run takes place during the festival of San Fermin, Pamplona’s patron saint and first ever bishop, who we don’t think ever ran with any bulls…
How did the running of the bulls originate?
Running with bulls was a practical way of transport the animals from outside of town to the bull ring in the city’s centre. People would run in front of the bulls so the animals would follow them and not lose their way. At some point in history people joined the run, mostly young men trying to prove their bravery, then the tourists came, mostly inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s depiction of the bull run in his novel Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises.
How many people have died running with the bulls?
Too many! But not as many as you’d think. Since they began keeping records in 1910 15 people have died, which isn’t that many when you consider the thousands who take part every year. The most recent death was in 2009 when a young runner from Madrid was gored in the neck. While Pamplona’s bull run is the most famous, similar events are held all over Spain each year, and it’s not uncommon for runners to die in other locations.
What does it mean to be gored to death?
Goring is when a bull’s horn or horns pierces your skin. It is the most common form of bull running injury. Every year numerous runners are gored, but as you just read, barely any die from their injuries.
How long does it take to run with the bulls?
The average time is around four minutes, but bull runs have been known to last up to half an hour! When a bull becomes separated from the pack it can stop running towards the bullring and start charging runners. At this point the bull run monitors will coax the bull with large sticks to try and encourage it to run to its destination.
How fast does a bull run?
The bulls run at around 24km/h. Usain Bolt runs at almost 45km/h. Over 100m. The bull run is 848.6m long, and not straight, smooth or free from obstacles. You shouldn’t go into the bull run expecting to run faster than the bulls for any great period of time. Just run in front of them for a while and then get out of the way. The most important thing is getting out of the way of the bulls, as opposed to running with them.
How fast is a cow?
We don’t know, but probably not as fast as a bull, but not much slower either! Cows would have a running pace similar to bulls so they can have a chance of escaping from them, if they need/want to.
How many bulls are used in the running of the bulls?
The usual configuration is six fighting bulls, eight oxen steers, identified by the bells around their necks, that are employed to keep the bulls in a group and a further running behind that an additional three steers to encourage any bulls that have broken from the pack to continue their run to the bull ring. This is repeated every day for the eight running days of Sanfermines.
How much does a bull weigh?
The bulls weigh between 500-600 kilograms, or more than 1300 pounds. Their horns are sharpened. They don’t like the look of you.
Are bulls colour blind?
They aren’t colourblind in general, but are colourblind to red. So don’t hesitate in throwing on the traditional red sash and neckerchief. When bulls charge a red rag their attracted to the movement, so maybe try and stay still if you don’t want to attract their attention (note: standing still in a bull run is not a great idea).
You will have to wear the official running of the bulls outfit.
White shirt, white pants, red neckerchief (or panuelo) and red sash. The whites pay homage to the butchers who were the first to lead the bulls running through the streets, the red neckerchief symbolises San Fermin who was beheaded by the French (and supposedly walked his head back to Pamplona). Butchers and headless bishops make for a pretty gruesome costume, but it does look pretty cool.