July 8, 2007 in Nation/World

Thrill-seekers take life by horns

Amanda Rivkin Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A runner gets his T-shirt hooked by the horn of a bull Saturday on the first day of the running of the bulls during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

PAMPLONA, Spain – Six massive bulls charged down the packed streets of Pamplona on Saturday during the first run of the San Fermin Festival, which combines the half-ton animals with damp cobblestones and revelers steeped in adrenaline and alcohol.

Injuries are usually common as the crowds strive to keep ahead of the bulls in the narrow streets. But only seven people were treated for minor injuries this year, including an Australian man who was slightly gored and a Spaniard who escaped with a minor shoulder injury after being tossed in the air and falling into the path of another bull, whose horns missed.

The number of revelers swelled this year because the traditional start day fell on a weekend. Last year, more than 200,000 tourists visited Pamplona, according to the city government. Numbers this year are likely to exceed that, said government spokeswoman Edurne Elio.

San Fermin is as much a feast of thanksgiving for the bounty of wine as it is a celebration of bullfighting. Pamplona, capital of the winemaking region of Navarra, is situated immediately east of another world-renowned wine area – Rioja.

It is customary for many revelers, particularly foreigners, to spend much of the night before a bull run drinking red wine or sangria.

“I stayed up all night drinking. Thank God for espresso,” said Matthew Genovese, 25, from Washington, Conn., who is in Pamplona for the first time.

Today, the crowd will run with Spain’s most dangerous breed of bulls, the Miuras.

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