Mess with the bull and you’ll get the horns! That used to be a catch cry I once had graffitied to the bottom of my skateboard, which as of now has a much more literal meaning. Running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
Maybe the only reason there isn’t a limit on the amount of people allowed to run is because you can actually DIE! Like proper dead, gored by ¾ ton bulls or trampled and suffocated by hordes of panicking thrill seekers. Sounds like fun yeah…. Maybe not. But then it all seems to come down to one line of questioning so often used on the trip.
“You gotta do it, spend the time and money cause you are never gonna be here again”
Whenever we hear it or say it, it seems to strike a deep resonance, a subconscious urge to pursue what we commonly wouldn’t fathom.
Maybe the fear of not living life to the fullest is more overpowering then the present fear in question. Whatever it was I knew I had to run.
“We’ll watch from the stadium the first day, watch the run from the street the second and on the last day we’ll try not make an insurance claim.”
D day-Mark and I meet far too early in the morning for a few warm up tinnies and a cold pilgrimage to the starting gates. My stomach churns and growls at me, definitely not hunger pains, I knew I shoulda had another gastostop tablet. Maybe the anxiousness of the run was exacerbating my intestinal discomfort, either way I desperately needed to pit stop.
First set of public toilets are closed.
“Man, if I don’t find a bathroom and I run with the bulls I’m gonna sh*t my pants.” I think to myself
Second set of toilets
“Great, porta loos, bet they’re clean after the constant all night parties in the centre of town.”
I walk in to an empty toilet, literally, it’s just a shower with an oversized drain hole. I do my business
“Bloody hell, no toilet paper! Bet some drunken idiot stole it so he can throw it round like a spasticated gymnast performing ribbons.”
I run through the options on cleaning myself:
“Eeeewww scrap that idea”
“Nar my white pants are see through, everyone will see my package. Plus if I get injured or fall over people will begin to question why the hell I’m not wearing underpants.”
“I know. . . . I’ll use one of my socks!”
Perfect! no one with be any the wiser.
The worst part of the run is definitely the start . . . . . unless you get gored. An hour of anticipation as an impending and a collective “say” 10 ton of muscle and horns prepare to march on your location. Everyone around you simultaneously excited and scared, stretching your muscles and bouncing up and down the only way the kerb your nerves.
An explosion signals the start and countless individuals start the run, their flight reflex takes over. What seems like half the participants run into the arena before the bulls even leave the bullpen. The second explosion marks the release of the animals. More people run prematurely, being tall I have a sight advantage.
“Where are they?” mark questions of me
“Can’t see anything yet”
“Hold on, not yet”
More people rush past.
“Hold it, hold it.”
“Here they come” The sounds of stampeding bulls now eerily evident.
“Get ready, hold it”
“F*@k en RUN!!!!!!”
We turn tail and run, our speed impeded my masses of people scrambling, looking backwards and falling at each other’s feet. The speed of the herd overcomes our own and we side step to avoid the galloping doom. As they pass the fear swipes up your body as all the images of previous goring’s montages in your mind. The first few are past, time to get to the bull arena before we get locked out.
The joy and elation of reaching the arena is overwhelming, people casually walk around talking and high five-ing. A second herd of bulls enter the arena, fear sweeps up through your torso and people run to the edge of the ring flinging themselves over as the crowd gasps and laughs. The finale of the run is held in the arena where thousands watch as angry immature bulls with their horns taped up precede to give tourists a “touch up.” Numerous people lay on the ground in front of the opening to the bull pen.
“Those guys are freak in CRAZY!” I explain to mark
We watch a bull leap frog the pile of human sacrifice and then proceed into bulldozing into unsuspecting participants. The second bull to arrive didn’t so much like the idea of leap frog but thought it perfectly fine to engage the pile of people with a bit of horn to flesh action.
“Oh sh*t!” Mark and I look at each other
“TORO!” the crowd roar encouraging the bull to de-earth some more revellers, sending them high in the sky. One unlucky participant sought safety perched on top the guard rail, bad move, the rush of people to this presumed safety had squished him unable to move. The bull then proceeded to insert a horn squarely up his clacker.
“Oooooh Rrrrrrr” the crowd replies
Very funny and exhilarating. (There are some pictures on Facebook)
After 5 or 6 immature bull releases the show is over, it’s almost 9am, many people continue to party but for us sleep beckons.