One man's silent run with Pamplona's thundering bulls

Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:14am EDT
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By Susana Vera

PAMPLONA, Spain (Reuters) - Every summer Sergio Colas joins hundreds of other runners for Pamplona's annual bull-run but unlike them he cannot hear the roaring crowds or the bulls thundering through the winding streets of the Spanish town's mediaeval center.

Deaf from birth, Colas has to rely on the movement of the mass of people around him to complete the almost kilometer-long dash without being gored or trampled by the specially-bred bulls, which can weigh up to 650 kilograms.

Although some tell him he shouldn't run, the 35-year-old native of Pamplona says his deafness may even be an advantage as the din of the festival can distract runners from the danger bearing down upon them.

Over the past century 15 people have died in the San Fermin run and many are gored by the bulls' horns each year. Several Spaniards have already been killed in bull-runs elsewhere in the country this summer.

"The most important thing in the bull-run is what you see, and I see more than others do," said Colas, who this year celebrates his 20th year of taking part in the event.

The San Fermin bull-run began as a religious festival in the Middle Ages and gained global fame following writer Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises".

With close to a million Spaniards and foreign revelers now cramming into the northern Spanish town of Pamplona every year for the nine-day event, Colas says he can no longer distinguish the vibrations caused by the bulls and those by the crowd.

"I used to be able to feel the vibration of the stampede and that of the bells of the steers," he told Reuters in an interview, referring to the tame, guiding bullocks which run alongside the bulls.   Continued...

Sergio Colas and his father Txema Colas pose for a portrait during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, northern Spain, July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Susana Vera