How to Run With the Bulls: Before the Run

Prepare for the run of your life

Jun 25, 2012
Outside Magazine
Pamplona newspaper

A bull runner sits on the street reading the day's newspaper that has photos of yesterday's bull run.    Photo: Jim Hollander

Before the bull run

Early in the morning before the encierro begins, the Jandilla bulls are awake but calm in the pen at the bottom of Santo Domingo, where the encierro starts at 8 a.m.

Bull runners stretching

More experienced runners limber up before the first run.

The hour before the run is a tense time for any runner. The run starts at 8 a.m. sharp. The first stick-rocket signifies the corral gates are open. The second rocket signals the last bull has left the pen.

Beginners: Be at Town Hall by 7 a.m. If you are standing anywhere between the police line on Mercederes and the arena, a line of officers will push you off the course. Trust me, it’s real. They did it to me my first Fiesta.

Intermediates: Grab a newspaper at Carmelo’s Bookshop (36 Estafeta Street) and look for photos of your friends and yourself from the run the morning before. Don’t be a sardine at Town Hall. Go down to Santo Domingo to sing the blessing to San Fermin and hang back in the less-crowded stretches of Santo Domingo until the police line breaks at about 10-‘til.

Experts: You’ve been around long enough to know people. Find an apartment with a door that opens onto the run. Relax on a couch. Take a nap. Watch the previous day’s run on TV. Then at 10 minutes to 8 a.m. and the beginning of the run, walk down and enter the mass of soon-to-be runners on the street. If you are a true elite they’ll invite you to the runners mass.

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