Running of the bulls or fools?

Risking your life running from a drove of bulls is not for everyone but for many young Australians it is the ultimate travel experience.

This week marks the start of the Running of the Bulls (San Fermin) festival, that sees thousands flock to the small Spanish town of Pamplona. Every morning for 10 days, runners pack the streets before 12 bulls are released to run along an 875 metre course, which travels through the main street, finishing at the town’s bullring.

Since records began in 1922, it is believed more than 15 people have been killed participating in the festival. While no Australians have died during the run, many have been injured. Just last year, a 27-year-old Australian man suffered injuries to his groin and thigh after being gored twice.

This year, Sebastian Jakobsson, 21, from Sydney, is in Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls but says he’s “not really worried about the dangers”.

“I’m here to run with the bulls and I’ll do it… It’s been on my bucket list,” Mr Jakobsson said.

“There aren’t any warnings here about running with the bulls, you just do it because it’s the culture of the people.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides people planning an overseas trip with a guide to travelling and partying safely. However, young Australians are ignoring warnings and putting themselves at risk of serious injury or death.

Twenty-five-year-old Sydney man Mitchell Gibbons says wouldn’t hesitate to run with the bulls again, having survived the run in both 2012 and 2014.

“It was one of the scariest experiences of my life but the amount of adrenaline it gave me was something I wanted to feel again,” he said.

“It’s definitely one of those things that I would recommended everyone tick off in their lifetime.”

Pamplona may receive an influx of foreign visitors in July for the San Fermin Running of the Bulls festival, but it also attracts attention for glorifying cruelty to animals. Each bull that runs throughout the festival is killed in the bullfights during San Fermin.

Animal rights activists have taken to the streets in underwear and bullhorn headbands in an organised AnimaNaturalis and PETA protest against the festival, with protestors covering themselves in buckets of fake blood.

Apart from Spain’s Running of the Bulls, events such as Thailand’s Full Moon Party and Oktoberfest in Munich are high on the bucket list of young travellers. These annual events see thousands of Australians take to tourist hubs to revel in the party atmosphere and engage in risk-taking behaviour.

The San Fermin festival runs for 10 days from July 7 until July 14. – Luke Cullen

Photo by Fiona West