Bloody history of Spains Running of the Bulls and its naked alternative future
A 55-year-old man died this week after being gored by a bull during the Fira de Onda festival in eastern Spain.
It was the first death during a bull run since the practice began again in Spain, after a long layoff due to various Covidlockdowns.
Bull running is an ancient Spanish tradition, and while it’s falling out of favour on animal cruelty grounds the events still attract hundreds of spectators.
The most famous bull running event is held in Pamplona during the nine-day festival of Sanfermines in honor of Saint Fermin.
Experts say the chance of being killed in a Running of the Bulls event is comparatively low, but it’s not uncommon for runners to be injured in a collision with a bull or even other runners.
The two most dangerous spots in Pamplona are the bottleneck at the entrance to the bullring itself, and Calle de Mercaderes, which is known as “Dead Man’s Corner”.
At least fifteen people have died in the Pamplona bull runs since records started in 1911. The most recent was 27-year-old Daniel Jimeno Romero.
He was fatally gored after a bull named “Capuchino” became separated from a group of six being run through the streets of Pamplona in July 2009.
The animal tossed him into the air and then gored him in the neck as he curled into the foetal position.
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In 1995, American Matthew Peter Tasio went to Pamplona on a whim during a summer tour of Europe.
While he was running ahead of the bulls, Tasio slipped and fell. Before he could get up a 90-stone bull named “Castellano”slammed into him at full speed.
Even though first aiders managed to get him to hospital remarkably quickly Tasio bled to death through a torn artery.
1980 saw one of the deadliest bull runs ever, with two runners killed by the same bull. “Antioquio” slipped on the cobbled streets and became separate from the main pack.
After the beast struggled to its feet it gored 22-year-old José Antonio Sánchez, dragging him several yards as blood poured from his body.
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“Antioquio” carried on into the bullring, charging a 29-year-old man, Vincente Risco, in the stomach. Before bystanders could drag Risco clear, the bull turned and gored him again.
The chaotic bull run of 1977 saw dozens injured and one – seventeen-year-old José Joaquín Esparza Sarasibar – dead from asphyxia and a ruptured kidney.
A similar pile-up in 1975 claimed the life of Gregorio Górriz Sarasa. Luis del Campo’s book on bull runs describes how a bull named “Navarrico” trampled over a pile of fallen runners and turned unpredictably: “One of the bulls entered close to the side wall on the right before suddenly turning to its left,” del Campo wrote. “There he found Gregorio Gorriz and he charged at him and gave him a mortal goring”.
Del Campo described how the previous victim, Juan Ignacio Eraso Martiartu, was gored and thrown by a bull named “Palmello”.
“Palmello had his sights set on Juan Ignacio Eraso, and the youth froze in his place, only covering his face with his arms instead of trying to slip through the fence or attempt some other means of getting out of the way.
“He was gored against the right fence and lifted by the bull and tossed onto the left side of the fence”.
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Martiartu was just eighteen years old.
Time may be running out for The Running of the Bulls, with animal welfare groups such as PETA bringing increasing pressure against the “needlsly cruel” event, but there’s an alternative on its way.
The Running of the Nudes, an event involving up to a thousand streakers wearing plastic horns and little else running through Pamplona just a few days before the official bull run, was first organised by PETA in 2002.
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