Huge crowds at running of bulls in Spanish city

Pamplona: The fourth running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona drew huge crowds Sunday, with spectators thrilled by a clean run that left a handful of people with injuries ranging from bruises to minor gorings.

Bulls completed the run from the Santo Domingo stockyard to the bullring in two minutes and 15 seconds.

The run started promptly at 8 a.m., with the herd moving fast from the start.

Several runners fell down on the slippery street, but the bulls did not go after them with their horns.

The herd did, however, trample some of the runners.

The nine-day San Fermin festival got under way last Wednesday with the traditional firing of a rocket in front of Pamplona city hall amid the shouts of thousands of people, many of them visitors from around the world.

A total of 2.7 million euros ($3.8 million) was budgeted this year for the festival, whose programme includes 342 music shows, 137 family related activities and 33 events involving bulls.

The runs in Pamplona are filled with tension and emotion, and occasionally result in tragedy, with 15 runners having been killed since statistics began to be kept in the early 20th century and many others having suffered gorings and other injuries.

The run to the bull ring is especially dangerous because some people take part in the event after all-night drinking binges, which makes them reckless and more likely to get too close to animals that weigh in excess of 500 kg.

The running of the bulls is monitored by experts who control the route and try to prevent accidents, but, inevitably, runners fall, suffer cuts and bruises, and are even gored by the animals.

As many as one million visitors from around the world descend on Pamplona during the festival - many of them Americans but also Frenchmen, Britons, Italians, Germans and Latin Americans.

The festival, begun about 400 years ago, was popularised by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel `The Sun Also Rises`.


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