Pick a day to run
If you’re unsure about running with the bulls it’s best to avoid the first day as this is the most popular, and therefore, the most crowded. Watching the run on the first day will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Be prepared for the run
If you turn up noticeably drunk the police will turn you away and you won’t be allowed to run. Try catching a bit of sleep — even if it’s in the nearby park, although don’t have anything valuable on you in case it is stolen.
Access to the route
To participate in the bull run, enter the Plaza Consistorial before
7.30am through the gates on the square and wait in the square or on the
hill of Santo Domingo until the barriers open. From there you can take
you place for the run. Once the barriers open you cannot enter or leave
What to wear
Wear comfortable clothes and footwear. Do not carry anything with
you. It is tradition to wear white loose trousers and a white shirt
with a red sash tied around your waist and a red scarf around your
neck. You can buy all of this in Pamplona.
Cow herds and dobladores
The herders, who run behind the bulls and oxen with their sticks,
try to keep the herd together and reprimand those who annoy, touch or
incite the animals. The dobladores wait for the bulls in the bullring
to lead them into the corral with their capes.
The first of four rockets is launched at 8am. This is when the gates
of the corral are opened and the barriers holding back the runners are
opened. The second rocket is to signal the herd has left the corral,
while the third is to let people know the bulls and oxen have entered
the bull ring. The final rocket indicated the entire herd has entered
the corral at the bull ring.
The run is performed by the six bulls to be fought in the bull ring
later that afternoon and two groups of oxen, easily recognised by the
bells around their necks, lead the bulls to the arena. Eight oxen run
with the bulls. Three more leave the corral two minutes later, in case
any of the bulls have been left behind.
Although some people sneak a small camera strapped around their
wrist into the run, cameras are not actually allowed and if the police
see you running with one, may knock it out of your hand.
The final stretch where the lane narrows to the entrance of the bullring with where eight of the 15 people have died since 1900, while three people have been killed toward the end of the initial uphill stretch, along Santo Domingo. Avoid getting caught on what’s known as Dead Man’s corner, as the bulls frequently slip on the cobblestones at this 90-degree turn. It’s best to start after dead man’s corner as it is 300 metres from the end and will give you a better chance of making it into the bull ring.
Bulls on their own
Be careful with bulls when they become separated from the herd. It is the first time they have come into contact with people and noise and become more dangerous when in this vulnerable situation.
What not to do
It is forbidden to run behind the bulls or to run in the opposite direction. Under no circumstance should you attempt to bring one of the bulls down. The locals will physically and verbally abuse anyone who does. Once in the arena, run to one side and clear the ring as soon as possible. Anyone under 18 cannot take part.
The biggest danger is not actually the bulls but the people running around you who fall over and potentially create pile-ups. Most of the injuries are the result of falls. You have to run looking in front, behind and at the ground. Once you are in with the herd, the safest place is right next to the bulls, as other runners will not get in your way.
In the event of a fall
Cover your face, curl up and lie still if you go down as this is safer than trying to get up and run again into the path of the oncoming bulls. Onlookers will let you know when it is safe to move again.
Making it into the arena
The gates into the arena are closed after the bulls have entered so don’t lag too far behind. Once inside you can climb the wall and join the spectators if you don’t fancy facing an irate bull.