Pamplona gets to grips with bull slip-ups

Authorities in Pamplona have painted a special non-slip coat on to the streets where the city’s annual bull-runs start today, in an effort to reduce the number of people gored or trampled.

The 848m route to the city’s bullring, down which six bulls will run every morning for the next eight days, has been coated with an acid-based product designed to stop bulls and runners from falling over.

“It is there, above all, for the bulls, so they do not fall as they go around the corners,” a spokesperson for the city said.

Sixteen people were gored by bulls and 40 others needed hospital treatment last year during the runs held to mark Pamplona’s patron saint, San Fermin.

Those injured each year usually include foreigners drawn to an event made famous by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises.

Fifteen people, including a United States student, have died over the past century.

Experienced runners have already tested the new surface, which is meant to increase the number of tiny pores on the street. “The grip is much better,” said Miguel Leza, a veteran of 26 fiestas.

Other runners were worried that, instead of falling over, they now ran the risk of twisting their ankles.

Yolanda Barcina, the mayor of Pamplona, said she hoped the surface would prevent the sort of dangerous pile-ups that occur when the bulls turn into Estafeta street.

Bulls often end up in a heap there, crashing into the barriers and squashing any runners who get in the way.

The dazed, angry bulls that get up afterwards are doubly dangerous, especially if they lose contact with the rest of the herd.

The event will start with the traditional midday chupinazo that marks the beginning of a round of frenzied drinking.

It was unclear whether the non-slip surface would reduce injuries from the San Fermin fiesta’s most dangerous activity—falling over drunk. - Guardian Unlimited Â.

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