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Published: July 17th 2006
This is the statium at the end of the run where you end up before they release the "baby" bulls
Imagine that there existed two swords weighing in at around 500kgs each. Imagine that 6 sets of these swords happened to run at approximately 40km/h and were attached to the front of particularly angry animals. Imagine who would be stupid enough to voluntarily run in front of these beasts?
These were the exact thoughts running through my head as the crowd started to get pushed BACK towards the start by the Spanish police. I turned to the Spanish guy next to me who was ever most inclined to deliver me bad news.
"How many times have you run?"
"This is my second time” he replied.
“If there are lots of people in the narrow part before the stadium” he continued, “do not go in."
I nodded, heart racing, sweaty palms. Still the police pushed.
Up to this point it had been ohh so sweet I thought. Two days earlier I was on San Sebastian beach during the Aussie invasion (think 10 odd busses all arriving at once) and yesterday I was standing in this very spot showering everyone in cheap champaign and sangria whilst paying tribute to San Fermin, the patron saint. We were all mates then. Singing and
The bulls coming into the stadium
laughing. Now it's every man for himself.
The speakers began to give instructions: “Do not run under the influence of alcohol. Don't run if you have any ailments. If you fall stay down until the herd has passed. Do not taunt the bull (no worries!). This is very dangerous, please leave now if you wish.”
Then the police stopped pushing and walked away and the crowd, almost casually, started moving forward.
Boom. The first rocket fired; the bulls were still about 1 minute away. We started jogging. We came around the adeptly named dead mans corner; a tight right hand turn where the street is deliberately hosed down. The bulls come barrelling around this corner and lose control and slide magnificently into the wall, collecting anyone on their outside. Just as we came around the corner the crowd swelled behind us and all panic broke out.
Boom. The second rocket is fired indicating the final bull has left the pen. Just as this happened, a road train of 3 heaving demon like creatures came rushing past us. We all squeezed to the edge trying to put atleast one person between us and the bull. Safely out
The baby bull getting the stupid American!
of immediate danger we took off after them. Soon I saw the narrow entrance to the stadium. I turned to my mate Joel.
"Lets try and get in."
Only the first couple of hundred runners get in. Just as I said that behind us came the final batch. In the chaos it's hard to precisely remember if the beast flying up behind you is a very angry bull intent on goring someone, or merely a tame steer sent to collect stray bulls. I looked towards the narrow entrance ahead, turned around, did a very rough calculation and headed for the nearest fence to climb (I was just before the narrow entrance remember!). The policeman obligingly pushed me back off and so I ran like fury- like no man has ever seen me run before (or ever will for that fact) - through the narrow bit and got in ahead of the steers and stumbled upon a scene I will never forget.
The whole stadium was a sea of red and white with people screaming and shouting. Confetti was falling. A million handshakes were exchanged between complete strangers. The final rocket confirmed we had made it.
The crew; Chris, Lea, Shane, Joel & me. And yes, I am grabbing that mans breast
the worse was still to come” I recalled my Spanish mate next to me saying. The "baby bulls" he said, were no babies. “It is dangerous, you should not stay in the stadium.”
A few minutes passed and then out one came, thoroughly pissed off like someone had rubbed deep heat in the neither regions and kicked it up the arse for good measure. The bull’s horns are tapped so you can't get gored but at 500 kgs, they still pack one hell of a punch. One or two close encounters and that was it for me, I jumped out and watched the rest of the proceedings from the relative comfort of the inner ring.
That night we partied like we never partied before. The whole place was awash with bars and night clubs just absolutely pumping full of people wearing the same uniform of white trousers & shirt, red belt and sash…. Ohh and red sangria and cheap champaign!
Spain I love you. All the guys & girls on the trip, you rock. San Fermin - God Bless You!
p.s Big Ups to Mische for giving me her pics after my camera got nicked!
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