Is Running Of The Bulls Dangerous? Uncovering the Risks


Are you looking for a thrill of a lifetime or potentially a brush with death? If so, the Running of the Bulls might be on your adrenaline-pumping bucket list. 

But before you lace up your running shoes and head to Pamplona, it’s crucial to ask the burning question: Is Running of the Bulls dangerous? In short, yes.

With gory tales of trampling and goring, alongside chilling incidents of bulls rampaging into bars, this event isn’t for the faint-hearted. 

In this article, we uncover the real risks linked to this age-old tradition, from the expected to the downright surprising. So, buckle up because we’re about to talk about the wild, often brutal, and always thrilling world of the Running of the Bulls.

🚨 Dangers and Risks Involved

Participating in a bull run is truly a risky venture, from the possibility of being gored or trampled to enduring serious injuries or even death. 

But for many thrill-seekers, the excitement of the experience outweighs the potential dangers. So just remember, if you’re considering joining a bull run, do so at your own peril.

Goring and Trampling

Running with the bulls comes with its fair share of dangers. One of the most common risks is goring. That’s when a bull’s horn pierces a participant’s body. It’s unlikely that you’ll enjoy that experience!

Then there’s the risk of being trampled, which can happen when you either fall in the path of the charging bulls or get caught up in the stampede of other runners.

Another factor adding to the risk is that these bulls are half-ton beasts, and they’re not aiming to play nice. 

During the run, their primary focus is reaching their destination, so anything in their way is in potential danger. Their sheer size and strength make it easy for them to trample or knock over the runners of the ‘encierros’.

Injuries and Fatalities

As you might expect, injuries are common in these events. Since 1924, over 15,000 recorded injuries in the Pamplona bull run have occurred. 

Many runners have suffered bruises, cuts, and broken bones; some have even been gored by the bulls, resulting in more significant medical attention.

But it’s not all minor injuries, though. Unfortunately, the run has also seen its fair share of fatalities. The death toll for the Pamplona bull run alone has stood at 16 since 1910. 

While the chances of being killed during the run are relatively low, it’s still a possibility that one cannot completely rule out.

🛡️ Safety Measures and Precautions

For Participants

You must follow a few key safety measures to minimise the risk of injury. First and foremost, try to stay within a group of experienced runners. Running with others gives you a better chance of avoiding bulls and navigating safely through the streets of Pamplona.

In addition:

  • Wear appropriate clothing, like comfortable shoes with good traction and well-fitting attire that won’t hinder movement.
  • Avoid alcohol before the run, as it can impair judgment and reaction times.
  • Get familiar with the route and be aware of any narrow or tricky passages to anticipate potential bottlenecks.
  • Never touch or provoke the bulls; they are already agitated as it is.

For Spectators

Even if you aren’t directly participating in the run, there are still safety precautions as a spectator. First, ensure to choose the right location to watch the event. 

Elevated platforms, balconies, and areas behind protective barriers offer the best vantage points and protection from possible dangers.

Other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Don’t approach the barriers in an attempt to touch the bulls or the runners, as it poses a risk to both you and the participants.
  • Keep a safe distance from the route when taking photos or videos, using a zoom lens if necessary.
  • Respect local authorities and follow their instructions to ensure everyone’s safety.

🚧 Unexpected Mishaps and Incidents

You might think the Running of the Bulls is all about excitement and adrenaline, but there’s also a darker side to the event. In this section, I’ll talk about some of the unexpected mishaps and incidents that have occurred during this dangerous tradition.

Notable Pile-ups and Accidents

On multiple occasions, pile-ups have led to disastrous outcomes. For example, I learned about a Spanish bull run where three men died in 24 hours from wounds they sustained while participating in Valencia’s traditional event. 

These tragic incidents remind us that running alongside massive, frightened bulls can have dire consequences.

During the runs, it’s not uncommon for people to get tripped up and fall, resulting in injuries and even deaths. 

Some participants have suffered heart attacks or asphyxiation as a result of intense pile-ups. So it’s definitely a risk that’s important to consider if you’re thinking about joining in on the dangerous tradition.

Bull Escapades in Bars

As if the Running of the Bulls weren’t scary enough, sometimes the bulls themselves find their way into unexpected places – like bars! 

Yeah, you heard me right. Can you imagine sipping a glass of wine and suddenly a panicked bull bursting through the door? I came across this article that mentioned bulls occasionally charging at runners who had fallen and even butting them into the air during the chaotic event.

These unexpected mishaps and the known dangers of participating in the Running of the Bulls are important to remember. Although the adrenaline rush might be appealing to some, it’s crucial to remember the risks and potential hazards that come with it.

🐂 Animal Rights and Controversy

PETA and Other Activist Groups

The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, has been a controversial event for many years now. 

Animal rights groups, including PETA, have condemned the event as cruel and barbaric for the treatment of the bulls. They believe that the run and subsequent bullfighting are forms of animal torture.

Over the years, many protests have taken place to raise awareness about the suffering that happens to these bulls. 

PETA and local activists have even gone as far as lying down semi-naked on top of chalk outlines of fallen bulls to protest the event. They want to create a change in how animals are treated for the sake of human entertainment.

During the running of the bulls, the animals are chased through the streets, often experiencing high levels of stress and fear. 

Afterwards, they are led into a bullring, where bullfighters engage with them in a ritualised battle that often ends in the slaughter of the bull. 

This is a clear form of animal abuse for many animal rights activists. In recent years, the tide seems to be turning in favour of the rights of these animals. 

Catalonia, a region in Spain, has already taken steps to ban bullfighting altogether, while several other towns and cities are following suit. It’s encouraging to see that societies are now reevaluating their treatment of animals in these traditional events.

While I understand the cultural significance of the running of the bulls, it’s hard for me not to sympathise with the animals’ plight. 

Let’s hope this tradition can evolve into a more humane celebration, balancing respect for cultural heritage with concern for animal welfare.

🔄 Global Inspirations and Alternatives

When I think about bull runs, it’s hard not to imagine the chaos and excitement they bring. However, there are other ways people have sought to capture that energy while providing safer and more humane alternatives. Learn why this dangerous tradition started from the history of Running of the Bulls.

Non-violent Alternatives

It’s important to explore non-violent alternatives to traditional bull runs that still allow people to participate in thrilling and adrenaline-pumping events. For instance:

  • Roller balls: Mataelpino, near Madrid, has people running down a slope with huge plastic roller balls chasing after them. It’s a fun twist that still offers a similar adrenaline rush without harming animals.

💭 Final Thoughts

Between 50 and 100 people are injured each year, and since 1924, 15 people have been killed during the event. And these figures don’t account for the number of bulls killed yearly.

While the chances of being hit or gored by a bull are relatively low, the consequences of such incidents are severe, ranging from bruises to goring or even death.

What adds to the risk is the unpredictability of both the bulls and the human participants. People from different backgrounds and levels of experience flock to this event, and their responses in a high-pressure situation can vary greatly, making it difficult for others to anticipate their actions. In such a chaotic environment, the chances of getting hurt inadvertently increase.

Participating in the Running of the Bulls is a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping experience, but it comes with a significant level of danger. So, understand the risks before you learn how to run with the bulls in Pamplona.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

Do people get injured Running with the Bulls?

The chance of being hit or gored by a bull is relatively low. However, hundreds of runners still get injured each year due to this event, according to the Pamplona organisers.

Injuries can range from minor bruises to more severe cases like goring, where a bull’s horn pierces the body, and even death may occur. So it’s essential to be aware of these risks when participating in the event.

Are there rules in the Running of the Bulls?

To ensure safety during the Running of the Bulls, participants should abstain from alcohol and drugs, remain vigilant, never touch the bulls, and respect the route barriers. Participation carries risks, so decisions to join should be informed and cautious.