PAMPLONA, Spain – A dangerously fast herd of bulls stormed down the streets of Pamplona early Friday surrounded by thousands of red-and-white clad runners known as mozos who had gathered for the famous Sanfermines festival, leaving at least seven people in need of hospitalization, including one who was gored.
Bulls from the Jandilla ranch, known for having gored more than 30 mozos in their 19 years participating in the fiesta, galloped down the 875-meter (just over half a mile) course in just 2 minutes, 24 seconds, as around 2,000 thrill-seeking race participants tried to avoid their deadly horns.
Medical officials confirmed that at least five people were injured, including a 19-year-old Spaniard from the city of Salamanca who was thrown in the air and dragged along by a vicious beast that gored him in the arm.
The bull had charged ahead of the herd after a rather sluggish uphill start and attacked the first mozo it laid eyes on.
After the assault, the man’s red sash – a traditional part of the mozos’ attire – was left tangled on the animal’s left horn, fluttering as the bull continued to charge into the crowds.
The bull’s speed made one of the sharp turns in the course much more difficult to handle, and the beast, weighing 500-565 kilograms (1,100-1,245 pounds), lost control and slammed into a man, crushing him against the wall and leaving him in need of immediate medical attention.
The beast was left momentarily stunned on the ground, and by the time it was back on its feet, the rest of the herd had caught up.
The group stayed together though dispersed enough that mozos could dart in between them for some spectacular races, but eventually, two at the back lagged behind the rest, adding extra notes of danger to an already treacherous event.
Another four Spaniards were hospitalized in the running of the bulls, including one suffering from head trauma, and dozens sought medical assistance from the many ambulance teams that are stationed in Pamplona every day of the fiesta.
The penultimate day of the Sanfermines is to end with the traditional gory fights in which the running bulls are to battle for their lives against sparkling matadors as hundreds of spectators look on.
A total of 108 bulls from the Jandilla cattle breeding ranch have taken part in Pamplona since their first appearance in 1983.
The beasts that ran through the cobblestone streets on Friday were: Infractor (515 kilograms), Decano (500 kg), Impostor (565 kg) Incauto (505 kg) Observador ( 520 kg) and Jugoso (510 kg).
The bullfight due to take place in the afternoon is set to feature the right-hander bullfighter Cayetano – who returns after debuting last year, also against Jandilla bulls – the Peruvian matador Andrés Roca Rey and the Jerez-born veteran bullfighter Juan José Padilla.
Padilla, who lost an eye and was nearly killed during a corrida in 2011 when he was gored by a bull in Zaragoza, last appeared in Pamplona two years ago.
Known as “El Pirata” (the pirate) because he wears a black eye-patch, is set to retire from the ring in Pamplona after 24 years as a matador.
The hapless Padilla suffered a spectacular mishap on Saturday in Arevalo, in the central province of Avila when a bull’s horn caught the side of his head and pulled part of his scalp off his skull.
Doctors had to repair the injury by sewing his scalp back on with more than 30 stitches.
Meanwhile, the approximately one million revelers that descend on Pamplona annually are to drink, eat and wait for Saturday’s race in which legendary Miura – traditionally the largest and heaviest of Spain’s fighting bulls – are to take center stage at the final run of the year.