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
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the hottest accents.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0735 GMT (1535 HKT)
Hidden from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's Lethwei boxing is experiencing a revival globally.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
Vikings, vicious politics and vindaloo curries -- Scotland isn't all tartan and bagpipes.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
Former brothels, public toilets and war bunkers now provide eccentric watering holes for those willing to drink deep.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0304 GMT (1104 HKT)
Ushaka Marine World, Durban, South Africa
Joburg is trendy, Cape Town is glamorous, but Durban has style -- and a restaurant inside a shark tank.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0756 GMT (1556 HKT)
Tirana's nightlife
Former Tirana stronghold of a totalitarian leader now home to a pulsing clubs and bar scene.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
This once-a-year luxury cruise visits untouched islands and never-snorkeled reefs.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
Peter J. Goutiere was just shy of 30 years old when he piloted a Douglas C-47 from Miami to Kolkata, India.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Breathtaking scenery, championship design -- many of the courses dropped into the Canadian Rockies are among the most memorable in the world.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
A floating hippo in the Thames river designed by artist Florentijn Hofman
Why Florentijn Hofman is sending a giant beast into London's River Thames.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
September 6, 2014 -- Updated 0042 GMT (0842 HKT)
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
ADVERTISEMENT