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Run with the Bulls

No, not the professional basketball team in Chicago. We're talking about the running of the bulls during the fiestas of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain.

This legendary event originated in the days when the bulls were driven from corrals outside the city, through the streets and to the bullring. Today, it takes place each morning between July 7 and July 14, beginning at a corral on Calle Santo Domingo. Runners line up shortly before 7:30 a.m., chanting three times, "We ask San Fermin, being our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run and give us his blessing." Then, after the clock on the church of San Cernin strikes 8 a.m., two rockets are fired to signal the release of the 12 bulls. They chase the men 2,784 feet (848.6 meters) down the street to the bullring, where a third rocket is then fired. When the bulls are safely in the bullring corral, a fourth rocket is fired signaling the end of the run.

Clearly, running in the path of a dozen bulls is risky. Typically about 200 to 300 participants are injured each year, mostly with minor scrapes and bruises caused by tripping and falling during the event. Injuries resulting from trampling by other runners or the bulls themselves are the exception, not the rule. In fact, only about three percent of participants are seriously hurt during the event. Nevertheless, since 1922, fifteen runners have died along the route, many from goring.