38 injured in ‘quiet’ running of the bulls

Thousands of daredevils fled bulls galloping through Pamplona's streets Saturday in the final bull run of Spain's San Fermin festival, which resulted in four injuries due to falls.

The latest injuries brought to 38 the total number of people taken to hospital at the eight bull runs of this year's alcohol-fuelled fiesta, including four men who were gored. Dozens of runners were treated for minor injures at the scene.

A 28-year-old Irish man and a 45-year-old Spaniard suffered head injuries in falls during Saturday's run, regional health authorities said.

A 19-year-old Spaniard bruised his left shoulder and another Spanish man, aged 25, injured his knee.

Each day hundreds of runners, many dressed in the traditional white with red scarves and sashes, test their valour by sprinting with six half-tonnes bulls along a 850-metre course through the narrow, cobbled streets of Pamplona.

The most daring try to run as long as they can right in front of the beasts' horns before veering off to the side or diving under the wooden barriers that separate the bulls and runners from the thousands of spectators from around the world that line the route.

Francisco Javier Rodriguez, a 26-year-old Mexican who is studying at a Barcelona university, said he managed to get in front of a bull during one of the two runs he took part in here.

"It is impressive to have a bull near you like that," said Rodriguez, who has taken part in bull runs in his native Mexico before.

"I enjoyed it a lot. Here the runs are much faster. It is very exciting. Each time I take part in a run though, I am more scared."

Bull by the horns

A brown bull raced ahead of the pack at a frenetic pace during Saturday's run and knocked over several runners before entering the bull ring alone. It was quickly followed by the rest of the pack.

The bulls from the Torrehandilla ranch near the southwestern city of Seville completed the course in two minutes and 33 seconds.

Several bulls charged some of the runners with their horns but no-one was gored.

A 73-year-old retired architect from Pamplona was gored in his left leg during the first bull run of this year's San Fermin festival and required surgery.

Three men — two Britons and a US citizen — were gored when a bull broke free from the pack during this year's third bull run and charged into a crowd of runners who were cowering by wooden barriers.

The two Britons, aged 20 and 29, remain in hospital.

A bull that becomes isolated from the rest of the pack is more dangerous because it can become disoriented and is more likely to charge.

A quiet affair

"In general the bull runs this year were very quiet. Four gorings in eight runs is not much," said Patxi Cervantes (48) a commentator on Spanish public television.

Four people were gored last year at San Fermin, down from nine in 2010.

Three years ago, a bull gored a 27-year-old Spaniard to death, piercing his neck, heart and lungs with its horns in front of hordes of tourists.

It was the 15th death at the Pamplona bull run since record keeping began in 1924.

The San Fermin festival, which dates from 1591, honours Pamplona's patron saint and features concerts, firework displays, folk dancing, round-the-clock drinking and religious processions, in addition to the daily bull runs.

Pamplona officials estimate about half a million people flock to the northern city of 200 000 each year for the festival, which was made famous by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises". — Sapa-AFP.

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