This Europe: Bulls ignore script on agonisingly slow procession through crowded streets

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The Independent Online

Bulls turned a sprint into an agonisingly slow, messy and dangerous run yesterday, goring five people including three Americans. Two bulls that strayed from the pack charged at anything that moved.

Bulls turned a sprint into an agonisingly slow, messy and dangerous run yesterday, goring five people including three Americans. Two bulls that strayed from the pack charged at anything that moved.

The run on the third day of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona dragged on for 12 minutes, compared with three or four for an average one.

The last of the six bulls to enter the bull ring that marks the end of the 825-metre course took six minutes to finish the second half of the run.

Five people were in hospital with injuries from horns, the Navarra regional government said, and three others had neck injuries, a broken wrist or other problems.

The most seriously injured American is Justin Brando, 22, with an 8in gash in his right thigh.

Howard Marzan, a 30-year-old from Puerto Rico, suffered a 6in gouge in his left thigh and James Brandau, 69, of New Mexico, was jabbed in the left leg. The other two goring victims were Spaniards.

One bull accompanied by steers that are supposed to keep the pack in a cluster ran back the wrong way. Organisers took the extraordinary step of putting up a wooden barrier to stop them.

That bull surged into crowds and flipped people into the air as if they were toys. It poked one young man in the thigh and tossed him in the air twice.

On the ground, with the bull breathing in his face, the man crossed his arms and tried not to look. He eventually escaped.

Another daredevil kicked that bull in the rump and grabbed it by the horns. Stick-wielding San Fermin bull-handlers who try to act as cowherds hit the man, as did other runners. At San Fermin, touching the bulls is seen as disrespectful.

Another bull fell on slick cobblestones a yard from the doorway of a coffee shop, triggering a pile-up of screaming humans crawling to safety.

That bull took two minutes to get up. One runner tugged at the 500kg animal's tail to try to get it moving again.

Spanish television's veteran San Fermin correspondent, Javier Solano, called it the longest and most bizarre run he had seen in 25 years.

The bulls came from one of Spain's top breeders, Santiago Domecq Bohorquez.

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