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Jul 10, 2015

Did You Know? – Running of the Bulls Facts

Like many people, you may be fascinated by the Running of the Bulls, the world-famous event that takes place during the annual San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain. There's more to the event than watching people potentially being trampled by racing bulls, though. Learn a few fun facts about this incredible race to gain a clearer understanding of why it takes place and more.

Six Fun Facts about the Running of the Bulls

  1. Origins – The San Fermin Festival dates back to at least the Middle Ages. It was originally held in October, and bulls played no part in the event at first. That changed in 1385, when bullfighting first started in Pamplona. It origins are practical; in the beginning, the Running of the Bulls was done to move bulls from the corral to the bullfighting ring. In 1592, the festival was moved to July to take advantage of the better weather. It has been held from July 7 through 14 ever since.
  2. How dangerous is it, really? – The average bull clocks in at 1,600 to 1,700 pounds. When humans go up against them, they often lose. Since 1924, 15 people have died after being trampled or gored at the event. An American tourist was killed at the festival in 1995. A Spaniard was the most recent victim after being killed during the event in 2009. Funnily enough, however, the celebrations that occur following the Running of the Bulls are actually riskier due to the large amount of alcohol that is consumed.
  3. Bull runners – In Pamplona, bull runners are known as mozos. There are differing opinions about the origins of their uniforms, which are white with red trim. Some believe the color scheme is meant to honor San Fermin, for whom the festival is named. Others believe it is in honor of butchers, who originally brought the event to Pamplona.
  4. Pop culture – The world at large knew little about the Running of the Bulls for many centuries. That changed when Ernest Hemingway published "The Sun Also Sets," which takes place during the event. Needless to say, the Running of the Bulls captured readers' imaginations. In the novel, it also served as a symbol of both the desire to reclaim masculine ideals and the "lost generation" of the time.
  5. About the race – Although the Running of the Bulls looms large in people's imaginations, it's actually quite short-lived. The San Fermin Festival stretches out over a full week, but the race only takes up about the first three minutes of each day. The total length of the course is just 875 yards, which is equal to about half a mile. Everything concludes at midnight on July 14, when everyone gathers in front of City Hall to sing "Pobre de Mi," or "Poor Me."
  6. The symbolism of the color red – Contrary to popular belief, bull runners and matadors don't use red to anger the bulls. Rather, their movement is what gets the huge animals going. The bulls chase the movement of the runner rather than the color.