The day I ran with the bulls

Every year between the 7th and 14th of July the city of Pamplona in northern Spain hosts the festival of San Fermín.

This festival is best known for its daily running of the bulls; six bulls which are to take part in the evening bullfight hurtle through the old quarter of Pamplona and into the bull ring. The bulls are not alone; hordes of ‘mozos’ – human runners – risk serious injury by accompanying the bulls on their short journey (a bull run typically lasts just a few minutes).

You may have heard about San Fermín from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun also Rises. After the book’s publication and subsequent success, tourists began to flock to Pamplona for San Fermín. Pamplona’s Tourist Board owes Hemingway a huge debt of gratitude!

Pamplona, Spain, July 1991

During a hitchhiking tour of Spain I stopped off in Pamplona and found myself drawn into the daily morning spectacular. I ran with the bulls (okay, okay, I was young then!)

Memories have faded but I still remember all the heads bobbing up and down before the cannon went off to announce that the bulls were loose on the street; I remember having to climb onto a barrier to avoid the bulls as they approached, and that a policeman told me to get down (but there were bulls there!!); and I remember running into the bullring and hearing an American guy say to his friend: “Hey Hank, get a shot of this.” A shot of what exactly I don’t recall.

I took some photographs during that week. Those were the days of taking photos and storing them in an album…

pamplona1 pamplona bulls

San Fermín 2014 starts on July 7th. Read all about it here.

See you next time,


Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee, home of the most comprehensive Spanish learning program for children ever to appear online

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…

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