Home About Spain Culture & History How to run with the bulls
Last update on November 07, 2019
Written by Sal DeTraglia 

Sanchoville City Hall takes its civic responsibilities as seriously as it does its coffee breaks, and – in preparation for the event – published eight nuggets of advice for any citizen planning to run with the bulls…

The annual Fiestas Populares y Taurinos (i.e., the “People and Bulls Festival”) took place here in Sanchoville last week.  For eight days, my sleep-deprived townsfolk and I enjoyed such diverse events as fireworks displays, Soviet dance troupes, concerts by big-haired pop bands, and competing with flies for a slice of a giant potato omelet.

All about the bulls

But the highlight of the Festival was the bulls.

Our town was treated to a variety of bull-antagonizing diversions at or near the temporary bullring that was erected two weeks ago.  And on three consecutive mornings, there was a running of the bulls through the streets of Sanchoville—although, thankfully, not on *my* street.

Sanchoville’s running of the bulls is much as I described in my earlier Pamplona entry—except on a smaller scale in terms of participation and blood-letting.

Now…the Sanchoville City Hall takes its civic responsibilities as seriously as it does its coffee breaks, and—in preparation for the event—published eight nuggets of advice for any citizen planning to run with the bulls.  Listed below is an English translation of those nuggets.

Tips for bull-runners

  • Don’t forget that your participation in the running of the bulls is at your own risk.
  • Mentally prepare yourself for the running of the bulls in accordance with your own physical abilities.   Don’t rely on luck to save you, because luck might not be with you.
  • Be aware of, and careful about, who or what is running beside you.
  • It is bad for all if runners attempt to perform bullfighter-type maneuvers with the bulls.  The purpose of a runner is simply to run.
  • If you drink, don’t run.  If you intend to run, don’t drink.
  • If the street on which you are running has curves, then take the curves at a diagonal on the inside.  This will help you gain distance from the bull.
  • If you fall while running and a bull is nearby, don’t get up.  It will be worse if you do.
  • Pay attention to the instructions that are given over the megaphone by Festival organizers.  In case of accident, please cooperate with the emergency personnel.

Wow!  The above list is brimming with prudent advice—although I feared that strict adherence to point 5 might seriously decrease participation in this year’s event.

I’d further like to highlight point 6 as evidence to all high school students that geometry does, in fact, have practical applications in the real world.

Of course…I did not run in this (or any year’s!) event, but I did attend as a spectator during one morning.  Yes, yes, yes…I fully agree with those who believe that these Festival activities are cruel, but we must remember that the tormenting of bulls is embedded in Spain’s culture and has been practised for hundreds of years.  That which seems bizarre or inhumane to non-Spanish eyes is largely considered normal here.

Besides, these bull-related events serve the important function of occupying Festival time slots that might otherwise be filled by Marie Osmond or Engelbert Humperdinck.  I’m sure that even the most hard-core animal-rights groups would agree that such alternative is repugnant beyond words.