Skip to main content

Crazy? Brave? Drunk? What drives Pamplona's bull runners?

By Diana Chan, CNN
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Running of the Bulls in Pamplona has attracted more tourists in recent years
  • Event generates enormous publicity for Pamplona
  • Four people injured on first day of this year's bull run

(CNN) -- Some call it courage, others madness.

Still others attribute it just to excessive alcohol.

Whatever their motivation, thousands of daredevils from across the globe were on the streets of Pamplona, Spain, on Sunday testing their nerve by sprinting through the city streets in front of six huge, charging bulls.

Risking injury at the horns of a frantic, three-quarter-ton creature may not sound like everyone's idea of a pleasant vacation.

At 8 a.m. sharp, rockets are fired to signal the start of the Bull Run. Six fighting bulls are released from their pen. Humans and bulls then begin a mad race through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, ending up in the central bull ring. At 8 a.m. sharp, rockets are fired to signal the start of the Bull Run. Six fighting bulls are released from their pen. Humans and bulls then begin a mad race through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, ending up in the central bull ring.
Race starts with rockets
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
La Pamplona Gallery La Pamplona Gallery

Yet the legendary, centuries-old Running of the Bulls in Pamplona -- part of the annual San Fermín Festival -- has attracted more and more tourists to this small, northern Spanish city in recent years.

What's the attraction?

There's no longer a practical need to herd the bulls through the city streets to the bull ring in the center of town.

The frenetic race is maintained because it's fantastic publicity for Pamplona, as well as one of the world's most memorable tests of bravery and agility.

Amazing and scary

So, what's your chance of injury?

Not as high as the fearful-looking contest might suggest.

On the first day of this year's bull run, among the thousands of runners, only four were treated for injuries.

But maybe they're counting themselves lucky, showing off their bruises as a mark of courage.

After all, it's a sign they almost certainly weren't hiding in a doorway as the bulls thundered past.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
In honor of Canada Day, a look at some of the country's most incredible manmade and natural beauties.
updated 5:40 PM EDT, Sun July 6, 2014
A 666-meter-long bridge shaped like a fire-breathing dragon heralds a new era of prosperity in Da Nang, Vietnam.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
There's a chance of being trampled or even gored, but thousands flock annually to the Spanish fiesta immortalized by Ernest Hemingway
updated 4:54 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Alcazar castle in Spain will stand in for Water Gardens of Dorne in the popular HBO series.
updated 12:38 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
Before you join the masses in the hopes of snapping a geisha on her way to work, it's worth learning a few unwritten rules.
updated 4:08 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Baptiste Dubanchet poses with food he's recovered from a trash can.
To highlight food waste, Frenchman travels across Europe fueled only by food recovered from trash cans.
updated 3:31 AM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
Tour companies are cashing in on demand from timid thrill seekers who want to safely experience Bangkok's infamously raunchy nightlife.
updated 12:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Dreading airport security, lost luggage or that middle seat? These travel headaches could be a thing of the past by 2024, according to a new report on the future of travel.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Latest model of aircraft affectionately known as the Queen of the Skies gets the red ribbon treatment, but jumbo jets are facing tough times
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
A former soldier plans to trek every country in the world, having been diagnosed with PTSD.
updated 8:04 PM EDT, Sun June 29, 2014
Sometimes the travel industry gets it right, sometimes it leaves us with a pillow chocolate stuck to our face.
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
A rocky, battle-scarred island, a beach that looks like a cathedral and a watery gold mine make new list of Spanish national treasures.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects hope their design for a one-kilometer tall building in the Chinese city of Wuhan will be completed by 2017.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
From holy water in ancient Egypt to burritos and gold bars -- how vending machines have evolved.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Sun June 29, 2014
Featuring white beaches and turquoise waters, Cambodia's islands are finally starting to get the attention they deserve.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT