Pamplona bull run: Author of 'How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona' guide gets gored

Jonathan Brown explains how he survived at the controversial Spanish event

Ernest Hemingway knew a thing or two about taking risks. War correspondent, big game hunter, boozer, traveller – he was the very embodiment of the 20th-century adventurer.

But when it came to the annual bull run at Pamplona in Spain – an event he immortalised in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises – the author realised this was one experience it was better to observe and write about rather than participate in.

In the annual contest between man and beast this year it has been beast that has snatched the headlines.

The daily statement from the Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra revealed today that eight runners remained in hospital where they were recovering from serious injuries after taking part.

A further two had been kept in for observation– an American and a Scot, both in their late 40s – who were among seven people injured as they fled through the wet cobbled streets in the fifth daily running of the bulls at Spain’s week-long San Fermin festival.

 

They are reported to have suffered head wounds and are currently under observation. But it is the goring earlier this week of “Buffalo” Bill Hillman that has shone a new light on the dangers of participation in the encierro – the terrifying 850-metre dash which draws hundreds of thousands of Hemingway devotees, thrill-seekers and daredevils to the Basque city each summer.

 

The irony, not lost on observers and critics of the event, is that Hillman is the co-author of Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, which claims to provide tips to those wishing to emerge unscathed from their encounter with more than six tonnes of charging beef flesh.

The American was gored through the leg after falling during the chase. The bull’s horn missed his artery and he is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery.

His friend and co-author Alexander Fiske-Harrison described how he too was forced to dive for safety to avoid being gored – a course of action he described as “ignominious, bruising but safe”.

Bill Hillman, the co-author of a book on surviving the bull run, in hospital after being gored Bill Hillman, the co-author of a book on surviving the bull run, in hospital after being gored (EPA)

“It was that same bull which found my brother-in-arms Bill a few metres further down the street. It was a bloody day out there – another man in a far worse condition than Bill was gored in the chest,” he added.

Fifteen people have died taking part in the run since record-keeping began in 1924, the most recent in 2009. It was not the prospect of possible death that drew me to Spain in 1988 when, clutching a tattered second-hand copy of Hemingway’s book, I took my chances against the rampaging herd, albeit cautiously.

Although the event seems to have been made even more treacherous by the advent of the smartphone selfie-taking during the sprint, it is not the plight of humans which evokes the anger of campaigners.

Bill Hillman is the co-author of this book Bill Hillman is the co-author of this book
Rather, it is that of the bulls which elicits much of the world’s sympathy, as all 48 are put to death in the ring during the course of the festival.

This year, more than 100 activists protested in the central square in a demonstration organised by international animal rights activists dressed in the traditional running garb of red bandana, cummerbund and white suit but with their faces made up like the grim reaper. The pop star Morrissey was among those to denounce the spectacle as “systematic torture”. 

Recovering yesterday was Tom Hadfield, a 23-year-old record company manager from Nottingham who is expecting to stay in hospital for a further two weeks after being trampled.

“I did it last year and it was the best feeling in the world. This year I guess I just pushed my luck. I have four broken ribs, two of which have punctured my right lung. I feel like hell but glad to be alive. I probably won’t take part again next year,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee