ENCIERRO
Jim Hollander
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A long time buddy who ran with the bulls in the "Fiesta de San Fermin" from the early fifties to the mid-eighties tried to simply express the experience this way. "You give of yourself when you run the bulls, you let it all go, your time, your money, your belief, your life, yourself, into the wild forms of joy and fiesta."

Matt Carney ran the bulls in that style referred to by the locals as "noble y bravo", getting in and being one with the wild animals. He took me a bit under his wing when I was a teenager, showing me the nine hundred meter route through the cobbled old city streets and spoke of pacing oneself until that flashing impulse of an instant when one must decide to get in there,or get out.

Very few of the several thousand "runners" in the streets to face the bulls each morning of the fiesta actually get in close and become one with the bulls. It takes exceptional timing, cunning, skill on your feet, not to be knocked over by other runners. And of course an overdose of raw courage.

These thundering animals are very large, very fast, extremely heavy and well equipped with long sharp horns. They are wild, but they are running scared in unfamiliar territory so the chances are that the bulls will herd together and not individually attack a runner. But, those are only the odds. In reality every run is a crap shoot.

Amazingly, only thirteen runners have been killed since statistics started being kept (in the 1920's) and only one of those, a foreigner. There are rules to this spectacle - know something about it before wandering into the streets. Don't be drunk, don't carry a knapsack or camera. Don't get up if you fall in the path of the bulls. Don't call attention to the bulls in any way as that could impede their forward motion and gore to death the buddy you're running with which is neither "noble" nor "bravo".

For more information on the rules of the "encierro" as well more of my photographs of this phenonomal fiesta in Pamplona, Spain, go to www.sanfermin.com and click "Galeria".



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