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'Expert' gored by bulls says he'll run with them again

By Al Goodman, CNN
updated 5:21 AM EDT, Sun September 7, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Author and running with bulls expert Bill Hillman was gored during run in Pamplona, Spain, in July
  • Hillman blames 'first timers' or 'inexperienced guys' for his mishap
  • Now walking with a cane, he recently attended a bull-running event in San Sebastian de los Reyes, near Madrid
  • Hillman says he plans to run with bulls in the future, possibly next summer

San Sebastian de los Reyes, Spain (CNN) -- Just weeks after a Chicago writer known as a veteran, expert bull runner was badly gored in Pamplona, he's back at other smaller bull runnings in Spain, but walking with a cane.

"I really didn't think he was gonna gore me until it happened. I really thought I was going to find a way to escape," said Bill Hillmann, who helped write a book, "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona," shortly before a bull's horn tore into his right thigh.

That was July 9, the third day of Pamplona's historic, annual eight consecutive days of running, which Hillmann says he's run daily for numerous years.

A bull got separated from the other five bulls toward the end of the 850-meter (half-mile) course. Hillmann was trying to help lead the lone bull toward the nearby bullring, but says he was pushed from behind, tripped and fell.

"I've learned from this. I'll always be much more worried about who's behind me 'cause now I know, if I'm not aware of there being first timers behind me or inexperienced guys, it could be me gored," said Hillmann, who turned 33 this month.

Tempting fate in San Sebastian de los Reyes.
Tempting fate in San Sebastian de los Reyes.

He's facing a €9,000 (nearly $12,000) bill for hospital services in Pamplona, but is undaunted and is finishing a new book on how running with the bulls has changed his life.

"I wasn't sure how I was going to end the book, but now I'm pretty sure the ending is going to be the goring," he said.

Expert American bull runner gored in Pamplona

Running with bulls 'tradition' not cruelty

Pamplona's running of the bulls dates back centuries and became world famous thanks to novelist Ernest Hemingway.

But numerous other Spanish towns hold their own bull running each year, and Hillman arrived this week in San Sebastian de los Reyes, near Madrid, for its running.

Bill Hillmann, a 32-year-old man from Chicago, is carried on a stretcher after he was gored on his right leg during the annual running of the bulls Wednesday, July 9, in Pamplona, Spain. Hillmann has been running in Pamplona for about a decade, and he recently co-authored a book entitled "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona." Bill Hillmann, a 32-year-old man from Chicago, is carried on a stretcher after he was gored on his right leg during the annual running of the bulls Wednesday, July 9, in Pamplona, Spain. Hillmann has been running in Pamplona for about a decade, and he recently co-authored a book entitled "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona."
Gored in Pamplona
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Photos: Gored in Pamplona Photos: Gored in Pamplona

In these towns, he tends to catch up with with a small group of other traveling men -- Spaniards and foreigners -- who have become regular, serial bull runners.

Hillmann brushes off criticism that the running of the bulls is animal cruelty.

"I don't see anything cruel about it," he insists. "The animals, they're just running. They don't get hurt in any way during the run."

But they do tend to get killed in bullfights later that day.

Surviving Pamplona's running of the bulls

Yet Hillmann points to the old traditions involving the bull-running events.

"I think it's fun, it's exciting," Hillmann said of the running. "I think it's stupid for people who know nothing about a tradition to judge someone who knows a lot about it and who loves it."

In San Sebastian de los Reyes, these Englishmen completed their first-ever bull running.
In San Sebastian de los Reyes, these Englishmen completed their first-ever bull running.

In San Sebastian de los Reyes, a group of Englishman proudly completed their first-ever bull running, and came across Hillmann, who was asked to pull up his right pants leg to show his hefty scar.

They asked if Hillmann would keep running and he said yes, although he doesn't expect that to be until next summer, after he's fully healed.

"I need to build up my courage again," he said, earlier in the day. "It's gotten a lot scarier now that I know exactly how dangerous it is, now that it's a reality."

After reviewing video and photos on a laptop computer of the day he was gored, Hillmann grimaced, and said, "Of course it was worth it. I knew the day I would get gored was coming. I was hoping I'd survive.

"I was hoping it wouldn't stop me from continuing to run, and I was lucky enough to survive and it looks like I'm going to be able to run again."

Pamplona bull run 'selfie man' sought by police

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