The annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, kicked off today, sending thousands of thrill-seekers from all over the world sprinting down the city’s narrow streets, ducking and dodging the horns and bodies of massive bulls running at an average speed of 15 miles an hour.
Many of the participants were likely still feeling the effects of sangria consumed the night before, partying in celebration of the beginning of the 9-day San Fermin Festival, of which the running of the bulls is a central tradition.
Four people were injured in the first run of the festival, the AP reports.
The following photos will make you want either to hop on the next flight to Pamplona or to stay far away from a place where bulls roam the streets.
The 9-day San Fermin festival kicks off at noon on July 6th each year, when tens of thousands of revelers come to see a large firework show, known as the 'chupinazo,' in front of Pamplona's city hall, signifying the start of the events. That's when the party really begins.
Those who participate in the daily running of the bulls wear white shirts and trousers, along with traditional red waistbands and scarves. Some even bring rolled up copies of the day's newspaper to fend off the bulls.
Sangria is the drink of choice for party-goers, whose traditional white shirts quickly become soaked to a pink colour as they sing, dance, and celebrate.
Adding to the ruckus, tenants in the apartments above the square throw large buckets of water on the revelers. No one seems to mind.
At 8 am each morning of the festival, a rocket is shot off, alerting gatherers that the gate to the bullpen has been opened. That's when everyone starts the dash. The running of the bulls involves 6 bulls and 8 steers who act as guides for the herd, running at an average speed of 15 miles an hour.
The run takes place on a 900-yard down four very narrow streets in the older district of Pamplona. The bulls are guided by barricades which create a route for them and block off any side streets. There's also a slim separation between the barricades and the buildings, giving runners a safe haven from the animals if they feel they are in too much danger.
Each year, 200 to 300 people are hurt during the running. These injuries are usually very minor and most are caused by falling down while sprinting. Since 1910, 15 people have been killed during the festival, mostly due to being gored by bulls' horns.
The tradition of the running of the bulls began when bulls for the following day's bullfight were held overnight in pens far from the city's bullring. As they were led to the stadium the next day, daring young men would show off their bravery by jumping on the bulls' backs. To this day, the bulls that run through the streets are the same ones used in the afternoon's bullfights.
After the bulls are brought to the arena, they are used in a bullfight, a centuries-old tradition. As Ernest Hemingway wrote in 'The Sun Also Rises,' (which partly takes place at the festival), 'Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull fighters.'
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