We arrived in Pamplona the night before we were prepared to run. We had watched the “How to Run with the Bulls” video, read up on the types of bulls we would be running with (eek – they were pretty violent), and talked to some locals and previous runners about the best game plan.
Their advice: Don’t run the entire race. Walk the course the night before to know your route. Get into the last 100 metres of the course so you can run into the arena before the doors close. After that, you can stay in the arena as they release 6 smaller bulls one by one and “play with them.” (Read: try to touch it without it gorging you.)
We woke up early Monday morning to arrive at an entrance gate in good time before they closed it. What we considered “good time” was unfortunately not good enough. The little Spanish guard literally closed the gate in our faces. We were 1 minute too late. Our hearts sank. In a big way. We immediately went into plan B mode – sneak in.
Each area of the run was protected by two big wooden fences: one to keep spectators back, a safe zone where medics, police, and injured runners could be, and then another big fence to block the bulls from all of the above. No clear openings anywhere. It looked like plan B was also not going to serve us well. Our hearts sank even more. We somberly took a spot on the sidelines.
The gun went off and the runners began to storm down the course. We saw the bulls pass us, along with hundreds of people pushing and jumping over each other. The last bull, however, went a little rogue right in front of us – which caused the whole flow of the run to change. People were being crushed up again the fence and jumping into the safe zone to escape (both the angry bull and the crazy mob). The below video shows you all the action – with the craziness beginning at 2:35:
When the bull moved on, so did the flow of people. Josh and I looked at each other and automatically agreed that this would be our chance to execute plan B.
We jumped into the safe zone and onto the course! WE’RE DOING IT! We chased the last crazy bull into the arena along with the rest of the runners still on the course. The doors closed behind us. WE DID IT! WE’RE IN! We then watched the rest of the action in the sea of red and white on the dirt floor of the arena. It was amazing and, at times, terrifying. Yes, it didn’t go as planned. And, yes, it was totally worth it. (Full run report can be found here)
While this wasn’t on my 100 before 100, it was an experience that will be remembered for a loooooong time. I may even need to go back to see how much of the run I can actually do. I don’t know if my Mom would like that though … she likes me alive. And I like that too.
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