By Leon Watson
One thrill-seeker was gored in a leg and four others injured as this year's Pamplona bull running festival kicked off today.
Thousands of adrenaline-fueled runners raced ahead of six fighting bulls in the streets of the northern Spanish city as part of the San Fermin festival, officials said.
Runners, in traditional white clothing and red kerchiefs around their necks, tripped over each other or fell in the mad daredevil annual rush along early morning dew-moistened slippery streets to the city's bull ring.
Tossed aside: A runner, or 'mozo', is thrown by a bull as the Pamplona bull running festival kicks off
Participants run in front of Dolores Ybarra's bulls during the first bull run of the San Fermin Festival
One youth got the top of his shirt caught on a bull's horn, inches from his face, and was dragged several yards along the ground, but was seen to get up and run away.
The gored runner, meanwhile, was taken to a local hospital and four others were treated for cuts and bruises, Red Cross spokesman Jose Aldaba said.
The San Fermin running of the bulls festival became world famous with the publication of Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.
It is also known around the world for its wild all-night street parties which commemorate the city's patron saint.
Drunken revellers filled the streets for the first, the Chupinazo, which marks the start at noon sharp of the main festival.
Participants celebrate during the Chupinazo to mark the start at noon sharp of the San Fermin Festival
Tens of thousands of people packed Pamplona's streets for a drunken kick-off to Spain's best-known fiesta
Fiesta time! A reveller crowd surfs in Pamplona as the red wine flows
Today, the massive bulls belonging to the Dolores Aguirre breeding ranch raced from a holding pen on the outskirts of town, where they spent the night before the run, along a 928-yard course to the ring in 2 minutes, 53 seconds, a relatively slow time.
The last bull in the pack became disoriented and charged into the ring several seconds after the leaders.
Runners make space for the fighting bulls during the famous Fiesta de San Fermin
The festival is a symbol of Spanish culture that attracts thousands of tourists to watch the bull runs despite heavy condemnation from animal rights groups
A runner receives medical assistance after suffering an injury
A man receives medical assistance after been injured during the first San Fermin Festival bull run
Once in the bullring it caused panic as it chased several runners around before being coaxed into the safety of stables by cape waving attendants.
'Running with the bulls was the best experience I've had, so much adrenaline,' said Mark Martinez, 27, a student from Los Angeles, California, who said he was in Spain on a 10-day vacation.
'I couldn't touch the horns, I might try that tomorrow,' he said, clearly oblivious to a basic rule of the centuries-old fiesta that runners should never touch the ornery animals that can weigh some 1,100lbs.
A wide-angle lens image showing runners or 'mozos' chased by bulls from Dolores Aguirre ranch
Historic festival: Runners pile-up at the entrance of the bull ring
The festival was made famous by the 1926 novel of U.S. writer Ernest Hemmingway called The Sun Also Rises
'Spain is different to anything I've experienced before,' said Michael Arraztoa, 25, from Bakersfield, California.
He said his dad was from originally from Irurita, not far from Pamplona, and that he too was over on summer vacation.
The 8am runs take place daily until July 14 with each charge broadcast on state television. And then, on the afternoon of each day, the same bulls face matadors in the ring.
The massive bulls belonging to the Dolores Aguirre breeding ranch raced from a holding pen on the outskirts of town
Close shave: A runner gets attacked by a bull that hooks his clothing
The 8am runs take place daily until July 14 with each charge broadcast on state television. And then, on the afternoon of each day, the same bulls face matadors in the ring
A runner or 'mozo' receives medical care after being gored by a bull from Dolores Aguirre ranch
Estafeta Street in Pamplona crowded with runners before the first bull run started
The bulls head towards the town's bullring where thousands of people gather to watch
In the bullring the bulls caused panic as they chased several runners around before being coaxed into the safety of stables by cape waving attendants
Controversial: A reveller taunts a fighting cow in the Plaza de Toros
Revellers taunt a fighting cow. After the bull run, runners remain in the bullring and small fighting cows are released
A fighting cow leaps over bull runners in the Plaza de Toros following the first running of the bulls
Revelers kiss in the early morning, during the San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, Spain
Sunday, July 8, 2012
By Leon Watson