Skip to main content

Crazy? Brave? Drunk? What drives Pamplona's bull runners?

By Diana Chan, CNN
July 9, 2013 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Running of the Bulls in Pamplona has attracted more tourists in recent years
  • Event generates enormous publicity for Pamplona
  • Four people injured on first day of this year's bull run

(CNN) -- Some call it courage, others madness.

Still others attribute it just to excessive alcohol.

Whatever their motivation, thousands of daredevils from across the globe were on the streets of Pamplona, Spain, on Sunday testing their nerve by sprinting through the city streets in front of six huge, charging bulls.

Risking injury at the horns of a frantic, three-quarter-ton creature may not sound like everyone's idea of a pleasant vacation.

At 8 a.m. sharp, rockets are fired to signal the start of the Bull Run. Six fighting bulls are released from their pen. Humans and bulls then begin a mad race through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, ending up in the central bull ring. At 8 a.m. sharp, rockets are fired to signal the start of the Bull Run. Six fighting bulls are released from their pen. Humans and bulls then begin a mad race through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, ending up in the central bull ring.
Race starts with rockets
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
La Pamplona Gallery La Pamplona Gallery

Yet the legendary, centuries-old Running of the Bulls in Pamplona -- part of the annual San Fermín Festival -- has attracted more and more tourists to this small, northern Spanish city in recent years.

What's the attraction?

There's no longer a practical need to herd the bulls through the city streets to the bull ring in the center of town.

The frenetic race is maintained because it's fantastic publicity for Pamplona, as well as one of the world's most memorable tests of bravery and agility.

Amazing and scary

So, what's your chance of injury?

Not as high as the fearful-looking contest might suggest.

On the first day of this year's bull run, among the thousands of runners, only four were treated for injuries.

But maybe they're counting themselves lucky, showing off their bruises as a mark of courage.

After all, it's a sign they almost certainly weren't hiding in a doorway as the bulls thundered past.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A scene from a desert safari in Dubai
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
Cities around the world have closed the brew gap, but the Oregon city's innovative scene continues to lead the beer parade.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
From gourmet hotdogs to Sevillian tapas, the food served in these London restaurants is worth lining up for.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
Plans are underway to build the world's tallest -- and quite possibly most terrifying -- roller coaster at an Orlando, Florida, theme park due to open in 2017.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1932 GMT (0332 HKT)
The 7th Annual Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards highlight the top cruise lines for North American travelers in 18 categories.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT)
Joining the ranks of pilgrims tackling Adam's Peak rewards with a spiritual awakening, or at least a stunning sunrise.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
The cover of Norway's new passport design
Beautifully designed travel document reveals image of Northern Lights when placed under UV light.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0525 GMT (1325 HKT)
Properties in the Italian village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio have been converted into a high end hotel spread through the village.
New concept offering luxury rooms in ancient dwellings helps spare beautiful villages from falling into ruin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Are you the butcher or the cattle? Tainted meat-obsessed fans are following the tracks of their favorite "Walking Dead" survivors.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0521 GMT (1321 HKT)
People never cease to find amazing ways to make water more incredible than it already is. Here are some powerful examples
ADVERTISEMENT