Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Encierro, part 3 of 4: The Bull Run

I was running.

It wasn't an all out sprint but it wasn't leisurely either. Shouting filled my ears as I heard the cow bells grow closer. The person behind me had a hand on me. Partially to keep his balance, partially to push me forward.

"I can't go any faster," I thought. There's no where to go. There are people in front of me. Part of me thought about swatting his hand away, for fear of him knocking me down. I was too busy staying upright to make the attempt.

Suddenly, the person in front of me starts to fall down. Instantly, I see a pile up of people at his feet. I high stepped over and around them. I can't afford to fall down. I can't afford be stopped here. I wasn't even concerned about getting trampled at this point. I was more focused on making it into the bull ring.

I regained my balance and continued the run. The hand was no longer on my shoulder, but I knew another person will soon take his spot.

I never looked back.

Suddenly, the cow bells were upon us. The people who were in the center pushed towards the side. I, who was left center, was moved closer to the wall. I looked to my right. Mighty bulls were rumbling past me. It brought to mind the earth shaking created by a herd of bison on the great plains. I was in awe. I was about 2 meters to the side of the bulls, so I felt reasonably secure that I was safe. But those were just the ones to my side. There is no telling where the bulls were behind me.

To my right, I saw someone go down under a bull. He was probably trampled. I told myself he will probably be ok.

Finally, the last bull of the pack moved ahead of me. Wanting to stay with them and not get left behind, I pushed towards center. "How many bulls just passed me? Was that all of them? Were there others far behind?" I didn't hear cow bells, so I took the risk and moved towards center.

As we came out of the street into the open air, I saw the bull ring in front of me. Almost there. I watched the door to make sure it wasn't closing. I needed to get inside. Just another 20 meters to go.

Suddenly, I tripped on another pile of people. The person behind me fell on top of me. I was on one hand and two feet, down by football terms. "Should I stay down as the rules suggest? Or should I keep going?" I quickly pushed back upright as one of the police officers tried to push me back down.

I stumbled to the gate, crashing into a wall as I dodged around bodies.

I ran through the tunnel, hoping to not fall again.

I made it through the other side.

The entire ring was filled with cheers from the stands. Other runners were in the center of the ring with me, raising their hands in victory. I raised my arms with them and shouted for joy.


  1. I find myself so full of questions while reading this ("Why would the police try to push you down? What happens when you get in the bull ring?") that I looked up the Running on Wikipedia. I'm halfway through when I read:

    "Every year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run..."


  2. Dude. It's nuts. That first day I ran, an 18 year old Aussie broke 3 vertebrae. The next day, a guy was gored through the chest. Both survived, as far as I know. It's crazy stuff.

    I couldn't tell if the police was trying to push me down or push me along. If it was down, it's because it's better to stay down if you fall. That's one of the rules of the run. If it was pushing me forward, they wanted to make sure I didn't create a pile up at the tunnel in front of the bulls, which would create mass hysteria and hundreds of injuries. Either way, it was with good intentions. I'm glad I made it through.