PAMPLONA, Spain – Thousands of thrill-seekers pushed through the crowded and wet streets of Pamplona to run alongside a vicious herd of bulls that stormed through the city as part of the sixth day of Spain’s famous Sanfermines festival, which despite the huge danger left a few with cuts and bruises and at least two people hospitalized with trauma on Thursday.
Bulls from the Victoriano del Río Cortés ranch, which in their nine years participating have gored four people, sprinted down the 875-meter (just over half a mile course) in 2 minutes, 20 seconds, a speedy race exacerbated by the slippery cobblestones.
Medical officials confirmed two people were hospitalized, including a 60-year-old Navarre region native with a head trauma and another person with light facial trauma.
The wet floor meant the bulls and mozos alike were unsteady on their feet and often stumbled and fell over each other, the earth almost shaking with the thud of animals weighing 510-610 kilograms (1,124-1,344 pounds) crashing to the ground.
Given the conditions, some participants were less inclined to run and many revellers packed the edges of the course, with the beasts passing dangerously close to them.
Several people felt the terrifying and deadly brush of a sharp horn drawing a straight line along their necks and faces, though miraculously none managed to draw blood, which would have resulted in a life-threatening injury.
Those hurt were not because of the bulls’ aggression as the huge animals barely looked at the mozos, preferring to rush ahead in as straight a line as possible, as they did not even linger in the ring that marks the end of the course.
On Saturday afternoon, they are to fight against glimmering matadors in a gory spectacle witnessed and cheered on by hundreds, as the rest of Pamplona is filled with revelers ready to drink and celebrate one of the world’s most iconic fiestas.