Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Despite causing fifteen deaths and hundreds of fractures, bruises and puncture wounds during the past century, Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls saw no shortage of participants in 2005. These hearty souls were willing to risk life, limb and a high-calcium enema for…for…for—well, to be honest, I’m not sure what for.

The good news is that nobody died during this year’s runs. While I’ll admit that I don’t understand why a person *not* forced at gunpoint would step in front of two sharp-tipped horns mounted onto 1,500 pounds of raw power and ferocity, my strong preference is that such person should nonetheless live to tell his tale. The penultimate death during a Pamplona encierro occurred in 1995, when a kid who had just graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chose to celebrate with a brisk morning run. He was gored through the liver and died shortly thereafter. His death didn’t sit well with me—perhaps because I graduated from the same University that same year. A funeral-free 2005 Festival, therefore, comes as a great relief.

But alas, Pamplona ’05 wasn’t all fun and frolic. There were injuries aplenty; some of which appeared quite—shall we say—“uncomfortable.” I present below an informal (if not 100% accurate) summary of this year’s casualties:

* 30 people were injured running with the bulls; of which 29 were men and only 1 was a woman.

* 24 of the injured were Spanish; 2 were American; 1 was Canadian; 1 was French; 1 was Argentine; and 1 was Colombian.

* 3 of the injuries were bone fractures; 18 were contusions or bruises; 2 were lacerations.

* 10 gorings (i.e., horn wounds) were reported; of which 8 were in the thighs or buttocks, 1 was in the shoulder and 1 was in the (OH MY GOD!) face.

Careful analysis of this raw data would surely yield a wealth of sociological insight. But I’m certainly not qualified (or motivated!) to do that, so I’ll just offer the following closing thoughts—freshly skimmed from the shallow recesses of my caffeine and tempranillo-soaked brain:

* The vast majority of injured bull runners at this year’s Festival were Spanish, whereas only two were American. There are two possible explanations for this: (a) the Spanish—who, quite honestly, ought to know better—are becoming more reckless as their country becomes richer and more modern; or (b) most American tourists stayed home this year to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

* Given the strategic location of many horn wounds this year, there’s arguably a large, untapped market in Spain for Kevlar underwear.

* One of the injured runners was a 69 year old man who suffered a fractured skull. I don’t believe this requires further commentary on my part.

* Wise parents in the Pamplona area will encourage their children to pursue careers in health care—or alcohol counseling.

* The Pamplona city council rejected, by a vote of 14 to 1, a motion that future Festivals of San Fermín shall feature a daily “Running of the Yorkshire Terriers.” Sorry. I made that up.

* Of all the beasts in the animal kingdom, humans are the only one that will risk their lives for something as unnecessary and nonsensical as running with the bulls. We clearly have no business ruling the earth.

* Woman smart; man stupid.

* My only child is female. I can’t tell you what a relief that is!

Damn! I can’t wait for next year’s Festival!


At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Where I live is a lot safer. We only have concrete cows

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Angie said...

I witnessed the final encierro of Pamplona '04 in person and held my breath as a (male) friend made the mad dash with the bulls. Therefore, my vote would go with your "Woman: Smart, Man: Stupid" analysis. ;-) In fairness to you, Sal, your comments do their part to represent the more intelligent members of your sex... but the Pamplona numbers speak for themselves. -Angie

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


I checked out your link. Those British cow not only are hornless. But they're ear-less!

* * * *


Good to hear from you again. I'm pleased to know that you chose the "I'll just sip a cafe con leche and watch" strategy while in Pamplona. And I should clarify that this is not cowardess; but rather, common sense. I hope that my daughter grows up to be like you--and I have no doubt that she will.

Also, thanks for the nice words (and link!) in your blog.

Attention all VTB readers! Haul tail to
and check out Angie's writings.

In fact, I'm going to put a link on my sidebar.


At 2:37 AM, Blogger Culinary Fool said...

Be careful what you wish for Sal... Yorkies can be pretty terrifying, let me tell you! In one of my past lives I worked a summer for UPS and I *hated* to see a house with those little ankle-biters! And you know, they can jump pretty high so you still might end up with lots of derriere injuries! :-)

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Angie said...


Thanks for linking to my site! Now that I'm back to my relatively mundane life in Indiana, I don't update it much, but I hope the archives are still entertaining.
(Even if they're rated PG -- my parents and grandparents were loyal readers!)

I still plan to post now and then, and I have a lot more to write about Italy! I'm working on a manuscript, loosely based on my experiences in Madrid... check back in 5 years or so and maybe I'll be famous by then. ;) Until then, we're relying on you to entertain us!

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

I was at the running of the bulls last summer with my mom(KickShoe Kooy)It was one of the craziest things I have ever seen. However to each his own, Out here in the western wilds of the US my guy friends tie themselves one the back of bucking bulls(and horses). I haven't decided which is worse running or riding.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Emily!!! The daughter of the great "Kick Shoe Cathy!!!" It's like a visit from the royal family. Welcome!

Now...on to your comment. You question whether it's more hare-brained to run in front of a bull or to ride on top of one.

That's a no-brainer, my pacific-northwest friend. By running in front of a bull, you risk a painful injury to the gluteous maximus. By riding on top of a bull, you risk a much more painful injury to a much more sensitive area.

That's an opinion from the male perspective, of course. As such, your US guy friends should spend more time in the library and less in the rodeo ring.

Stay clear of those killdeers. And BTW...YOGA!


At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Kick Shoe said...

The Queen Mother thinks both activities are stupid. Watching is the only way to go. Sorry you missed the crispy killdeers and the beer. I'll send out the invitaions earlier next time.

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i ran in '05 and let me tell you there is a perfectly good reason to run....the moment afterwards when you say "Oh my God i can't believe i just did that!" One more comment on the encierro, its a shock more americans aren't injured because there seems to be an abundance of them and all the ones i met were definetly intoxicated.


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