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Expert American bull runner gored in Pamplona

By Al Goodman, CNN
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Co-author of "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona" gored by bull
  • NEW: Bill Hilmann says someone pushed him and he fell, and was gored
  • Photographs from scene show Hillmann on his back, when the bull's horn goes into his leg

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Chicago man who just co-authored a book on how to run with the bulls in Pamplona was gored in the right thigh on Wednesday and underwent surgery in hospital, two friends with him in Pamplona told CNN.

Bill Hillmann, 32, was gored by a bull that got separated from the other five bulls -- toward the end of the 850 meter, or half-mile, course -- just before the downhill slope leading into the bull ring.

" 'It's been a hell of a sh**ty fiesta so far,' " Hillmann said at the hospital, according to his friend Alexander Fiske-Harrison, who edited their new e-book entitled "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona."

Other contributors to the book include John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway, who brought global fame to the ancient tradition through his 1920s novel, "The Sun Also Rises," also published under the title, "Fiesta."

Bill Hillmann, a 32-year-old man from Chicago, is carried on a stretcher after he was gored on his right leg during the annual running of the bulls Wednesday, July 9, in Pamplona, Spain. Hillmann has been running in Pamplona for about a decade, and he recently co-authored a book entitled "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona." Bill Hillmann, a 32-year-old man from Chicago, is carried on a stretcher after he was gored on his right leg during the annual running of the bulls Wednesday, July 9, in Pamplona, Spain. Hillmann has been running in Pamplona for about a decade, and he recently co-authored a book entitled "Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona."
Gored in Pamplona
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Photos: Gored in Pamplona Photos: Gored in Pamplona
A bull horns a runner in Pamplona, Spain, on the last day of the San Fermin festival's annual running of the bulls Monday, July 14. The bull run, a 400-year tradition, takes place over eight days. A bull horns a runner in Pamplona, Spain, on the last day of the San Fermin festival's annual running of the bulls Monday, July 14. The bull run, a 400-year tradition, takes place over eight days.
Pamplona's running of the bulls
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Photos: Pamplona\'s running of the bulls Photos: Pamplona's running of the bulls

Hillmann has been running in Pamplona for about a decade, and in the book on surviving the running, he wrote a key chapter offering detailed advice for novices and experts alike on how to properly run with the bulls.

It includes this description: "There's more to the ancient tradition than just surviving it. At its most pure, this is daring street-art, a dance with death and majesty, a chance to come into harmonious contact with one of nature's fiercest monsters."

Hillmann continued in the book: "At its worst, it's a bunch of panicked tourists falling all over each other in an idiotic stampede."

And Hillmann himself said he was tripped up in the confusion on Wednesday.

"I think today was a situation where somebody pushed me and I fell over and I got gored," he said from the hospital in a Skype interview with CNN's Jeanne Moos.

Photographs from the scene show Hillmann on the pavement, on his back, when the bull's horn goes into his leg.

"I didn't feel it at all. When he lifted me, that's when I realized I was gored," Hillmann told CNN. "Sadly, you know, it's just part of the run. All the great runners have been gored."

Fiske-Harrison said he was running on Wednesday near Hillmann and that the latter was trying to guide the loose bull -- which experts consider to be very dangerous -- toward the bull ring, when he got gored.

The hospital medical report said Hillmann received two gorings, but Fiske-Harrison said there appeared to be only one main one, which he described as a "clean wound. It didn't touch a bone or an artery. This is an honorable wound."

He estimated it to be about a 15 to 20 centimeter gash.

Hillmann's wife went to hospital to see him and Fiske-Harrison said she was not pleased.

Hillmann, who was in Spain to promote his new novel, "The Old Neighborhood," about Chicago, had just days ago suffered the loss of his passport and laptop, Fiske-Harrison said. Hillmann mentioned it on his Facebook page.

Hillmann remained alert at hospital, although he was sedated, and is expected to spend about four days there before he is released, Fiske-Harrison said.

The six half-ton bulls from Victoriano del Rio ranch, including the one that gored Hillmann, were due to die in the bullfights on Wednesday afternoon, near where he was injured on the third day of the annual eight days of running, held at 8 a.m. local time, from July 7 to 14.

On the first four days of running this year, 20 people have been taken to hospital, five for goring-related injuries, and the rest having been hurt in falls or collisions.

There have been 15 deaths among runners since records began in 1924, most recently in 2009 when a 27-year-old Spanish man was fatally gored in the neck.

Hillmann said he'll run again next year: "I can't wait to get back on the street."

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