History: The San Fermin Festival is a combination of three different historic festivals: a livestock fair and exhibition, the San Fermin celebrations (which were originally held in October) and Pamplona's bull-fighting festival. The three events came together for the first time as early as 1591. Letters from the era refer to men on horseback leading bulls through the city in a sporting contest. The event has evolved considerably since, becoming gradually regulated and eventually adopting an official route in 1856. Ernest Hemmingway visited the event in 1920 and set his novel "The Sun Also Rises" in Pamplona. The popularity of the novel and the decreasing costs of international travel put the Running of the Bulls on a global travel map.
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See The Running of the Bulls route. Zobacz trasę "Gonitwy Byków" .
Watch a young bloke who is going to see the event and the latest Running of the Bulls 2013 with the participants singing a benediction. Zobacz młodego chłopaka udającego się, aby zobaczyć "Gonitwę Byków" i jej uczstników śpiewających pieśń.
The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish encierro) is a practice that involves running in front of a small group of bulls that have been let loose, on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town's streets. The most famous running of the bulls is that of the seven-day festival of Sanfermines in honour of San Fermín in Pamplona. Unlike bullfights, which are performed by professionals, anyone older than 18 may participate in an encierro.
The purpose of this event was in origin to transport the bulls from the off-site corrals where they had spent the night, to the bullring where they would be killed in the evening. Youngsters would jump among them to show off their bravado.
Before the running of the bulls, a set of wooden or iron barricades is erected to direct the bulls along the route and to block off side streets. There may be a double row of barricades along the route to allow runners to quickly exit in case of danger. The gaps in the barricades are wide enough for a person to slip through, but narrow enough to block a bull.
The encierro begins with runners singing a benediction. It is sung twice, once in Spanish and once in Basque. The English version is as follows: "We ask Saint Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the encierro and give us his blessing". The benediction is a prayer given at a statue of Saint Fermin, patron of the festival and the city, to ask for the saint's protection. The singers finish by shouting "Long live San Fermin!". Runners dress in the traditional clothing of the festival which consists of a white shirt and trousers with a red waistband and neckerchief. In one hand, they hold the day's newspaper rolled to draw the bulls' attention from them if necessary.
A first rocket is set off at 8 a.m. to alert the runners that the corral gate is open. A second rocket signals that all six bulls have been released. The third and fourth rockets are signals that all of the herd has entered the bullring and its corral respectively, marking the end of the event. The average duration between the first rocket and the end of the encierro is around four minutes.
The length of the run is 826 metres. It goes through four streets of the old part of the city (Santo Domingo, Town Hall Square, Mercaderes and Estafeta) and a section called Telefónica before entering into the bullring.
Every year, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious. Since record-keeping began in 1924, 15 people have been killed in Pamplona.
Professional people involved in the run
The pastores (bull "shepherds") play an important role in the entire bull run. They follow the bulls with a long stick which is their only protection. They prevent people from infuriating the bulls and do not let the bulls to turn round and run backwards. The bulls that have stopped or have been separated from their companions are pushed to continue the run towards the bullring by the pastores.
The dobladores are people with excellent bullfight knowledge and sometimes experience including ex-bullfighters who take up position in the bullring with capes to help the runners "fan out" .
Mansos (bullocks) involved in the run
The six fighting bulls that will take part in the evening bullfight with the help of mansos - an initial group of bullocks which act as "guides" to help the bulls reach the destination. Two minutes after leaving the corral, a second group of bullocks (the so-called "sweep-up" group), which are slower and smaller than the first one, are let out to lead any bulls that might have stopped or been left behind in the bull run towards the bullring.
During the 2013 Running of the Bulls event a pile-up crash took place with 35 people injured including a young Australian woman who was seriously gored by a bull.