The Monkey Tracker

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monkeys Run with the Bulls in Spain!

Lets just start by saying Spaniards are completely insane. Even more wacko than Bloomy...

Now I know Steve and I put up a blog last night but I (Beric) had nothing better to do than right another blog and make a movie on the 9 hour road trip from Croatia to Arco in Italy. So here it is. 

An update on the Nomad status, he has completely disappeared again. Steve and I saw him in Croatia a few weeks ago. Rumor has it he was in Morocco and may now in Portugal? But we really have no idea.

Anyways. After Nomad and I dropped Steve off at Barcelona airport, we made our way to San Sebastian. Basque Country!

We stayed here with 2 kick ass couch surfing dudes names Paulo and Jokin.

San Sebastian is amazing and is conveniently located 1 hour away from Pamplona. It was no coincidence that we were there in San Sebastian.  From the 6th until th 14th of July Every year the San Fermin is held in Pamplona a.k.a running with the bulls.

San Sebastian was to be our less crowded base point for the duration of the festival. Yes, for some silly reason Nomad and I had planned many months ago to participate in the madness and lunacy of actually Running with the  bulls.

Here are some shots around San Sebastian:

They like to swim in pools at the beach in Spain. All most as logical as Bloomy..

There is an average climbing area near San Sebastion. Nomad and I went and climbed here in the afternoon straight after we ran with the bulls. We did this to celebrate our survival.

Paulo making me proud:

Jokin after a good send:

The classic Euro Belay. Seen as common practice throughout Spain.

And this is a crazy cow.



NOW. So what's this running with the bulls all about? Well essentially for 7 days straight the Spaniards party like animals in the streets. Please note that onwards from here I have used some other peoples photos so that this blog is more interesting. As always, you will see my name (C.Beric) water marked in the bottom right hand corner on any of the photos that are mine and aren't stolen..

And each morning those who are stupid enough run through a narrow street with 12 600kg angry bulls. Usually the bulls are released in two separate groups of 6. These bulls have very sharp horns, trample many people and occasionally even gore them to death. Most people pay the price at one particular tight bend in the track known as `dead mans corner'. The bulls don's see this corner coming and usually run straight into it crushing whatever is in their way:


Another thing to know is that the masses of crazy people running are just as dangerous as the bulls themselves. Fearing for their lives the people in the crowd are just as likely to trample you as they shove and claw their way to safety. If you fall down or trip its game over!

You can choose where you start along the track. Most people start at the Town Hall Clock.

The bull run finishes at a bottle neck into a big Coliseum.

If you start from Town Hall you will not beat the first bulls into the Coliseum as they run extremely fast. You do not want to beat the bulls into the Coliseum as this is seen as extremely cowardly and the huge crowd inside the coleseum will boo and throw beer bottles at you. Seriously.

If you start to close to the beginning of the track where the bulls are released you won't make it into the Coliseum though. The bulls are too fast to keep up with and they shut the doors to the Coliseum after the 2nd group of bulls enters.

The important thing is not to get stuck between the bulls or in a human pile up at dead mans corner!

Nomad and I came to an agreement that We would both run with the bulls the next morning. Waking up that morning wasn't as easy for Nomad as it was for me..

I put on my San Fermin outfit. White pants, white shirt, red scarf around the waist and neck. With out these you stand out like dog balls in the crowd and I highly recommend you buy the outfit if you plan on going to the San Fermin.

Nomad and I strategically decided to start the run just in front of the clock. To signal that the bulls have been released into the street and loud fire work goes off at 8am sharp. Word had it that the biggest bull running on our day was 700kg!

No problem for an Aussie. Although, an Australian man was seriously gored the day before and put in intensive care according to the news. Never mind that.

The crowd was very unsettled and anxious. I was on edge and ready to spring into action. Nomad was ready to go 'spook-eye'. Everyone was intensely listening for the firework. Fuk*n BANG!! There was a loud crack and everything broke into complete mayhem.

People were frantically climbing walls and fighting to get into the larger doorsteps for protection. Nomad and I were relieved to make it safely past dead mans corner. The crowd in the balconies above came alive and we knew the bulls where close behind. Suddenly vibrations started to rattle up through my whole body. I pushed my way through the sea of white and red lunatics. In amidst a  cacophony of screams, galloping hooves and sounding horns, everything was a complete blur of madness.

Bulls started flashing past my left side. Nomad and I managed to keep up with them for 3o seconds or so. We didn't stop running though as the next 6 bulls were still behind us and you can never be sure if there is a stray that isn't keeping up with the group. I was elbowing, shoving and literally jumping over people to make my way through the less fit crowd as fast as possible. My adrenalin was pumping and I could see a scraggy deranged nomad to my side who was just as aggressive, shoving his way through the crowd like a lunatic! Somehow we managed to keep together for the whole run.

We made it into the Coliseum which was absolutely mind blowing. The crowd was going ballistic! 

The last 6 bulls blasted through behind us and  then they shut the Coliseum doors. This was where the fun began.

People started to gather around a closed door and lay on the ground. Intruiged Nomad and I went closer to have a look. WHOOOSH! The doors flung open and a raging bull came charging out and lanuched itself over the people laying on the ground.

One by one they released 'baby bulls' with corks on their horns through this door. Sounds nice and safe right? WRONG. These 'baby' bulls weighed like 300kg, were extremely fast and aggravated. I assume they jabbed them with some sort of drug before hand. They basically run around through the crowd smashing people in the air like bowling pins.

It was hilarious for the crowd and scary as hell for me when a bull came my way. Nomad had a few close encounters and we both managed to slap one of the bulls on the ass! This was my one and only goal for San Fermin in fact, aside from surviving.

The bull I slapped on the ass actually ran straight at me and I had to jump the bull ring barrier to escape it. Only seconds later, no word of a lie, the same fired up bull managed to jump the barrier into the crowd about 10 m's away from me! All hell broke loose and I had to fight to get back into the bull ring which was now the "safe" area to be. This happens from time to time apparently:

We celebrated surviving the bull run by going rock climbing as I talked about before. Which is a far safer activity right??

In the evening each day after the bull race they kill the bulls in a bull fight. Nomad and I went to one Bull fight. Bull fighting isn't exactly humane, but it is very traditional for the Spanish people and the atmosphere is like nothing else I have ever seen.


Nomad and I befriended all the Spanish people around us who kindly shared with us large amounts of food and sangria which they were stockpiling in eskies. 

I have put together a short movie of the whole event which is below.

The footage of the bull race itself and the corked bulls in the bull ring smashing people came from YouTube. I was unalbe to film this part. I was not carrying my camera during the race or corked bull dodging as this was no media event. I was in lunatic mode and needed both hands for elbowing and evading death etc.. The run footage is from the actual race on day 4 in 2011 except for one small part where someone gets smashed at death corner. This was from a 2007 race. It was a 'bullzeye' shot.. ah.. ah.. ah.. ah..

PLEASE NOTE that the bull fights are gory and violent so you may not actually want to watch this.

Monkeys Run with the Bulls in Spain! from 3 Lost Monkeys on Vimeo.

Now that Nomad and I have run with the bulls, thankfully we will never have to it again. It's ticked from the list!

But in all seriousness, you must go to the San Fermin if you ever get the chance. No bull..

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