Weather and crowds make bull run dangerous, but no serious injuries

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Slick streets and huge crowds added extra danger to Pamplona's running of the bulls on Saturday, but no one was seriously injured in the second mad sprint of the San Fermin Festival.

Slick streets and huge crowds added extra danger to Pamplona's running of the bulls on Saturday, but no one was seriously injured in the second mad sprint of the San Fermin Festival.

Four people were hospitalized, including one man who was kicked in the head and another who suffered a slight goring in the buttocks, the Navarra regional government said.

Twenty-one others were treated on the scene for bumps and scratches.

On a chilly, overcast morning the cobblestone streets fenced-off for the 825-meter course were slippery with a combination of dew, spilled alcohol and other liquid detritus from parties that rage on nonstop during the eight-day festival.

Making this run even more treacherous, the number of daredevil runners was up significantly from Friday, leaving narrow streets virtually clogged. Dozens of humans tripped over each other as they tried to dodge the bulls.

Just as the run was about to start, police led away a young woman wearing roller blades.

No one keeps track of how many people run but locals say the number shoots up on weekends as Spaniards and others flock to Pamplona for a brief taste of danger. On a weekday it is estimated that 2,000 people run, but on Saturday the crowd was clearly much bigger.

Toward the end of the run, so many daredevils packed Estafeta Street that two of the bulls slowed down to little more than a trot.

Some runners taunted the bulls, slapping them and often getting close to the horns. Other runners tried to hang on to the bulls as they sprinted.

Besides being dangerous, that is considered an insult to the bull.

"Today's run was disgraceful," said Javier Solano, a veteran San Fermin commentator for Spanish state television.

Normally six bulls take part but veterinarians disqualified one on Friday. The heaviest weighed 550 kilograms and the lightest 485 kilograms. This last one was called Pecador, or Sinner.

The bulls run from a corral to a bullring where the face a matador in the afternoon. The run takes them about three minutes.

There were two major bovine pileups, both at points where the animals have to negotiate a turn. At one of them, near town hall, half a dozen animals went down with a tremendous thud. It was audible from a second-story balcony.

David Silver, a 24-year-old law student from Bellmore, New York, said he got cornered by the second of the pileups. "Two bulls skidded to within about two feet of me, and I thought, 'OK, this is it,"' said Silver.

"For three minutes I thought of nothing but my life," said Silver, all smiles as he told his story.

His buddy Joel Bello from Miami said what he will never forget is the rumble of hoofs. "You're running along and you hear it getting closer. And then you turn and there they are, the bulls, bearing down on you," Bello, 27, said.

The centuries-old festival became internationally famous following the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Sun Also Rises."

Since record keeping began in 1924, 13 runners have been killed and more than 200 injured by the bulls. The last fatality was an American in 1995, the first death since 1980.

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