This morning’s Running of the Bulls, the third of the annual eight-day San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, resulted in the highest reported hazard level of the 2014 celebration thus far: a 70 out of 100, as determined by the festival’s website, www.sanfermin.com. The hazard level that the website reports each day is a function of gorings, injuries and the duration of the run. Today’s run, which scored 50 points higher on the peligrosidad scale than yesterday’s and 40 points higher than Monday’s, lasted 3.23 minutes and left two men gored and three others badly injured.
Among the men gored today was 32-year-old American writer Bill Hillmann, who recently co-authored the book Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. Despite the irony and the fact that future runners may want to find a guide that also explains how to escape goring, Hillman gets to maintain his Estafeta Street cred, since he did once again survive the running (this time with only two stabs in his right thigh). The 35-year-old Spaniard who took a horn to the chest today also managed to cheat death but is in serious condition. No one was gored yesterday, and the 52-year-old Spanish man whose groin took a jab on Monday is already on the road to recovery.
Trampling, butting and catapulting account for most of the other injuries sustained during each morning’s stampede. These sorts of injuries have sent more than 40 people to the hospital since Monday, 10 of which in conditions severe enough to warrant factoring into the daily hazard level calculation. The Running of the Bulls has claimed a total of 15 lives since 1924, when record-keeping of deaths at the event began. The most recent fatality was in 2009, when 27-year-old Spaniard, Daniel Jimeno Romero, was gored to death.
Despite the incredible risk of running alongside six bulls and six steers, which are castrated bulls, as they charge toward the fighting ring, thousands of people from all over the world flock to Pamplona each July to take part in the race, while tens of thousands of spectators cheer from the sidelines. Surging with adrenaline, alcohol and aficionados, San Fermin is quite the fiesta. The festival held in honor of Saint Fermin (co-patron of Navarre) dates back to medieval times, appearing on record as early as the 14th century. It seems to have changed very little over the last several hundred years. San Fermin as it is described in its 17th and 18th century chronicles is not a far cry from the festival Ernest Hemingway depicts in The Sun Also Rises, complete with excessive drinking, general debauchery and foreigners visiting from July 7 to 14. Tomorrow, July 10, will mark the halfway point of the festival.