Injury Count High at Pamplona Bull Runs

For those keeping track, the count stands at 113.

Injuries, that is, as the annual “Running of the Bulls” continued in Pamplona, Spain this weekend. Sixteen people have been hospitalized with serious injuries in four days.

The cobblestone streets of this northern Spanish town were slippery with dew, alcohol and trash from parties that rage during the eight-day San Fermín Festival.

Overcrowding has been a major problem, increasing the danger to the runners on the 900-yard course. About 1.6 million people are expected to visit during the festival.

Roller Blades Are Out

No one keeps track of how many people run, but locals say the number jumps on weekends as people flock to Pamplona. The narrow streets are clogged with dozens of people tripping over each other trying to dodge the bulls. On Saturday police led away a young woman wearing roller blades just as the run was about to begin.

So many runners packed Estafeta Street that on Saturday two of the bulls slowed down to a trot.

Some people taunted the bulls, slapping them and getting close to the horns. Others tried to hang on to the bulls. Besides being dangerous, that is considered insulting to the bull.

“Today’s run was disgraceful,” said Javier Solano, a veteran San Fermin commentator for Spanish state television.

The runners taking on the bulls included hundreds of Americans. Several wore suits and ties in homage to the runners in the early 1900s.

Gored Twice

This morning, in what was the longest and most dangerous run so far this year, three men were gored — one in the face — and were taken to hospital, a health official said. None of the injuries were thought to be life-threatening.

Two confused animals became separated from the rest of the pack and careered slowly up the street, one catching an unlucky runner and goring him twice during a hair-raising episode which left his trousers in tatters.

Another young man was carried up the street for more than 10 yards dangling from a bull’s horn by his shirt, although he did not appear to be seriously injured.

On Saturday four people were treated at a hospital, including 23-year-old Canadian Jordan Bayne, who was kicked in the head by a bull, and 40-year-old American Montgomery Doiel, who was jabbed in his buttocks. The Denver resident’s wound required stitches.

“For three minutes I thought of nothing but my life,” said David Silver, 24, of Bellmore, N.Y. “Two bulls skidded to within about two feet of me, and I thought, ‘OK, this is it.’”

The most serious injury occurred on Sunday when a 28-year-old man from Pamplona suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding. He was reported in grave condition.

At least 13 people have died from injuries in the bull run over the past 100 years. The last death was in 1995, when a 22-year-old American was gored.

A Nonstop Street Party

The runs, or “encierros” as they are known in Spanish, draw thousands of people testing their bravery and speed by running alongside the bulls. They are herded from a city corral along a cobblestone street to the bull ring.

The centuries-old festival, which features a nonstop street party, became internationally famous following the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises.

The multitudes celebrate wildly with generous amounts of alcohol, despite protests from animal rights activists and the Catholic Church, which complains that the religious nature of the festival has been lost.

San Fermín, adopted as Pamplona’s patron saint, was a veteran of the Crusades.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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