July 9, 2010 / 10:58 AM / 9 years ago

Adrenalin and injuries in Spain's running of the bulls

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - A runner was gored in the thigh by a bulls’ horn on Friday as Spain’s adrenaline-filled week-long running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona entered day three.

A runner falls in front of a Fuente Ymbro fighting bull at the entrance to the bullring during the third running of the bulls on the fourth day of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 9, 2010. Three people needed hospital treatment following a run that lasted six minutes and twenty three seconds according to local news sources. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

A menacing black bull separated itself from the herd and lingered behind, raising the threat to runners and prolonging the usually short race to more than six minutes through the streets Pamplona in northern Spain.

Three others were admitted to hospital, the Red Cross said during its customary post-race report of injuries.

A day earlier a 43-year-old Irishman identified only as C.C. was admitted to hospital for a gash from a bull’s horn, and a 21-year old Spaniard was fighting for his life in hospital for several hours but his condition has improved.

“Today’s race had the added complication of many more people than the previous two days,” Miguel Angel Castander, one of Friday’s runners, told TVE television after the race.

Friday’s race lasted 6 minutes 23 seconds, compared to Thursday’s race, which took just 3 minutes 30 seconds.

Each morning for seven days, runners dressed in white trousers and red scarves coax a herd of six bulls through Pamplona’s crowd-lined streets to the main bullfighting ring, where the bulls are reconvened each afternoon for bullfighting.

The route they follow is the same each day, but the livestock used come from different areas of Spain. At least one woman participated in the mostly male run on Friday.

The more fluid the movement of the race the better, but in Friday’s race one stray bull held back, slipping over on the pavement at every turn, looking disoriented yet observant.

The runners made tentative moves to touch the bull to encourage it to keep running, dashing out if its way just before it reacted, to avoid being caught by its sharp horns.

At last year’s festival, which takes place each July, and attracts considerable interest from both tourists and Spaniards, there was one fatal goring - the first since 2003.

There have been 15 deaths in total caused by the race since the Plaza de Toros was erected in 1922, according to last year’s reports from El Pais newspaper.

San Fermin’s running of the bulls is an ancient tradition. It was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his novel “The Sun Also Rises,” a semi-autobiographical account of an alcohol-fueled visit to the festival by a group of squabbling British and American friends in the 1920s.

Runners in the race are not allowed to drink, and such an early start makes it less likely, but in Friday’s race one of the runners taken to hospital had been drinking, officials reported.

Reporting by Alice Tozer, editing by Fiona Ortiz and Paul Casciato

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