How to Survive the Pamplona Bull Run

The Pamplona Running of the Bulls is a legendary event which takes place in July each year. It is so famous in Spain that it is even broadcast live on two separate national television channels and attracts tens of thousands of spectators and participants. Of course, it is also known as a dangerous event; here are some useful tips and advice on how to enjoy and stay safe during the bull run.

First of all, with this being such a famous event it is wise to book your travel and accommodation early. The best airports to fly into are either Pamplona Airport itself, Bilbao or Zaragoza. Many people book their accommodation way in advance, so it's a good idea that you do to. The same goes for flights, and don't forget to book car parking at GatwickHeathrow, or wherever you are flying from.

Once you have arrived, settle into your accommodation and soak up the festival atmosphere of the town. The San Fermin festival itself begins on 6 July, with the first running of the bulls on the 7th. The first piece of advice is not to take part in the first bull run; enjoy the first one as a spectator and just see how the whole thing goes down. You will also have the opportunity to walk the course so you will know where all the tight spots are, and all the twists and turns. Of course, watching this first bull run might give you second thoughts about running yourself!

Make sure you understand how the race starts; once everyone has gathered at the starting point, a firecracker or firework will be let off - this signals that the bulls have been released. Don't start running yet - you have to wait for a second firecracker which is the one that signals that the bulls have actually started running towards the crowd. If you start sprinting right away, chances are you will never get to see the bulls which will kind of defeat the purpose of being there. Better to wait until those behind you start running, as they have obviously seen the bulls and want to get a move on.

At this point, it is really all about being aware of what is around you. Even if you feel you can outrun the bulls, you have to be aware of other runners falling in front or beside you who may present an obstacle or even trip you up accidentally. This is where a lot of people go wrong; it's very hard to see where you are going if you are constantly looking over your shoulder for the bulls. Once you have reached the finish line, find somewhere safe to stand and catch your breath.

There are some other important tips to remember when running with the bulls. Firstly, don't drink beforehand. This advice should be obvious but many people want some Dutch courage before the event. Most of the bull runs actually start at 8am which makes it less likely that you will want to drink anyway, but certainly be sober and wide awake come race time.

Consider starting further down the course; swallow your pride and don't try to start right at the beginning, as this is probably too much for a beginner and could result in injury. There is a heavy police presence during the bull run, and if you look too much like an inexperienced foreigner, they may even pull you out of the crowd and move you further down anyway.

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