The Bloody and the Brave
Every year the goriest moments from the Running of the Bulls flash across television screens, but the instances of bravery that follow are often cut out. Presenting the ten most dangerous moments at the Fiesta de San Fermin, from start to finish.
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Someone was gored in Pamplona, again. That might be the extent of your knowledge about the Running of the Bulls, especially if you get your updates from the evening news every July. Here’s what television stations in the United States usually don’t show—the unseen moments of courage that follow the blood. Elite runners known as Divinos (the Divine ones) often push the limits of bravery to help the fallen as half-ton bovines rumble past. For that reason, I’ve included the before and after in my list of the ten most dangerous moments of the Running of the Bulls in the last decade.
Warning: Some of the videos that follow contain graphic content
10) La Curva, July 12th 2004, Jandilla Run
The tenth most dangerous moment from the of the Running of the Bulls.
On each day of the Festival de San Fermin, a different ranch runs its bulls. On this nightmarish day, all of the bulls came from the Jandilla breed. The Jandilla is a distinct blood-line of bull from one of the most feared ranches in Encierro history. I don’t know what they put in the field grass on the Jandilla ranch, but it has created some of the most monstrous and wrathful beasts I’ve ever encountered.
Once released, they instantly began hooking runners on the Santo Domingo street. It was the bloodiest day of the past decade. At the dangerous sharp banking turn known as La Curva, the tight herd was dismantled and the legend of a new American runner was born. Tom Turley learned running from a legendary New York Divino named Joe Distler. Distler is known as the “Iron Man of Pamplona” because he hasn’t missed a single Encierro since the 1960’s. Distler schooled Turley on the tricks of the trade at the curve. After many years running with the bulls, Turley made his name at the curve when he cut in front of one of the deadliest bulls from the Jandilla breed. A brown striped bovine named Zarabando came raring around the corner ready to cut into unexperienced runners. Turley ran in front of the bull’s horns for several yards then passed to the side. In doing this, Turley lured Zarabando up the street and kept him from halting and goring other runners.
9) Pile Up in the Tunnel, July 12th 2004, Jandilla Run
The ninth most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls
As the runners neared the arena en masse, they piled up at the opening of the tunnel. Most of the bulls leapt through the crowd, but two trailing bulls stopped at the sight of so many people. Trigueno, a black Jandilla-bull, plucked Divino Julien Medina out of the pile and gored him repeatedly. One serious shot near the spine almost killed him. A bull named Zambrando turned backward and gored several of the fallen. Sweeper steers—released minutes after the main pack to help corral stray bulls—entered the tunnel and bucked Zambrando through the passage into the arena. Finally, Trigueno entered the corrals and that terrible morning ended.
8) The Encore, July 11th 2005 Jandilla Run
The eighth most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
The Jandilla breed nearly matched their previous year’s nightmarish stampede. The pack crashed violently at La Curva. The herd splintered and three bulls turned backward up the street. They gored several runners. After two turned back, there was one jet-black bull left named Vaporoso. Tom Turley turned Vaporoso and led him up Estafeta Street. Vaporoso then peeled off isolating a Spaniard named Xabier Salillas who’d fallen near a doorway. Vaporoso gored Salillas several times. A runner in a purple striped shirt named Miguel Angel Pérez came to Salillas’ aid. He grabbed Vaporoso’s tail, a technique which disorients and freezes the animal, then turned Vaporoso and led him up the street. Vaporoso continued his rampage throwing and goring several others before he was finished.
7) Universal, July 12th 2007, Marquez de Domecq Run
The seventh most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
Universal became a legendary bull when he gored seven different runners in one day. Then he met a 75-year-old English woman nicknamed Frosty and things promised to get worse. Frosty was on Estafata street right behind Bar Windsor in her usual running position, which is to say she was standing between two vertical PVC drain pipes with her back against the wall puffing on a Marlboro Light 100. On his way up Estafeta street, Universal stalled and locked onto Frosty, a mere stride away. As he prepared to charge, a Spanish runner named Jose Antonio, who is deaf and mute, attracted the bull’s attention with a flick of his morning paper and lured him up the street.
6) The Death of Daniel Jimeno Romero, July 10th 2009, Jandilla Run
The sixth most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
The Jandilla bull named Cappucino started in almost immediately. After his first few strides he broke from the pack and began throwing his horns. Cappucino crashed into the barricades at Town Hall. The herd rushed past. From then on he was a Suelto—a lone, agitated bull. Cappuccino raised hell up Estafeta street and came barreling into the soft bend at the Telefonica section. Pamplonican 27-year-old Daniel Jimeno was a highly experienced runner who was pulling himself under the bottom rung of a fence after falling in a pile up. Cappucino swerved off and slammed into the wooden barricades. Jimeno was gored in the neck. The horn entered on a downward trajectory and severed his aorta. He bled to death in a few minutes.
5) The Goring of an Englishmen, July 10th 2009, Jandilla Run
The fifth most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
After the fatal goring, Cappuccino slung his horn though an Englishmen in a green shirt and cart-wheeled him into the air. David Rodriguez happened upon the scene by then and helped lure Cappuccino up the street. In the video, Rodriguez is the man in the white and green shirt. Watching Rodriguez work a Suelto up the street, you can see the act of running with the bulls taken to high artistry in its most dramatic form.
4) Jose-Antonio Saves Rick Musica, July 12th 2009 Miura Run
The fourth most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
ErmitanioErmitanio being turned by Jose Antonio at the La Curva. Rick Musica black suit coat and pants stunned in the distance.
Legendary American Joe Distler invented a running style at La Curva. Distler’s tactic is to wait, and as the herd crashes into the outside wall, break into sprint and catch them as they rise, then meld into the pack. That morning American Rick Musica was attempting this technique while dressed in the traditional garb of the old days. The Miurra hit the wall hard and a black-and-white speckled bull named Ermitaño (Hermit) was dislodged from the pack. He spun around the wrong way and locked onto Rick. Rick wisely turned and ran away. Ermitaño chased after him when suddenly Jose-Antonio caught the bull’s eye, turned him and lured him up the street away from Rick.
3) Goring in the Tunnel, July 12th 2009, Miura Run
The third most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
Ermitaño wasn’t finished tormenting the streets that morning. Just as he was entering the tunnel, a 44-year-old veteran runner named Pello Torreblanca ran before his horns. Ermitaño bellowed and lunged. He gored Torreblanca in the thigh and then flung him into the air. Many runners came to his aid. David Rodriguez (Green), grabbed hold of Ermitaño’s tail. Ermitaño’s next move was to place his horn in the center of Torreblanca’s chest and lift him high off his feet and pin him to the inner wall of the tunnel. When Torreblanca finally unhinged from the horn, Ermitaño bellowed savagely. In the chaos the others released their grip and Rodriguez was drug by Ermitaño where he continued to gore Torreblanca. Torreblanca miraculously survived. Those Mozos who came to Torreblanca’s aid undoubtedly saved his life.
2) The Straggler, July 9th, 2010, Fuente Ymbro Run
The second most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
A 1500-pound bull named Tramposo (Cheater) fell behind the pack running up the streets and took a long time making his way towards the arena. I happened upon this and helped lure Tramposo up the street (blue stripes) with David Rodriguez (green) and Miguel-Angel (white). We lured the bull up the straight away of Estafeta. I got winded and climbed out through the barricades; seconds later Tramposo crashed into them and gored a runner though the thigh. David Rodriguez grabbed Tramposo’s tail and was dragged across the street and whipped out into the oncoming sweeper steers. Rodriguez miraculously avoided being trampled. Then he and Miguel-Angel helped lure Tramposo all the way into the arena.
1) Medina Hooked in the Arena, July 14th, 2010, Jandilla Run
The most dangerous moment from the Running of the Bulls.
The Jandilla once again lived up to their savage reputation on the last day of Fiesta in 2010. They threw several runners and knocked many unconscious. One bull dislodged from the herd near Telefonica. Julien Medina led this bull through the tunnel into the arena. Just as they stepped into the bright morning-light, the bull hooked Medina. He rammed his horn into Medina’s lower back near the spine and toppled him to the white sand. Several young Spaniards rushed over and helped Medina up. They then walked him to the center of the packed arena, at which point the crowd honored Medina with a standing ovation.