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First bull run held in Pamplona as festival returns following pandemic

People running through the streets ahead of bulls (Alvaro Barrientos/AP)
People running through the streets ahead of bulls (Alvaro Barrientos/AP)

The first bull run in three years at the San Fermin festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona has taken place.

No one was gored, but several runners endured knocks and hard falls as tens of thousands of partygoers revelled in the return of one of Europe’s most famous traditional events.

The six bulls, guided by six tame oxen, charged through Pamplona’s streets in around two minutes and 35 seconds without provoking too much carnage among the thousands of people cramming the course.

People run through the streets during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona
People run through the streets during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona (Alvaro Barrientos)

Several runners were stomped, trampled or shoved to the cobblestone pavement. At least two men were hit in the head by the broadside of a horn, but none suffered a goring

The Pamplona hospital said that six people needed to be brought in for treatment.

Those included a 30-year-old American man who fractured the radius and ulna of his left arm and one 16-year-old Spanish girl who lost a part of a finger in the bullring, where a pile-up of runners occurred just in its entry point. The other four injured were Spanish men between 19 and 45 years old.

This was the first of eight early morning bull runs that are followed by massive drinking, eating and attending cultural events for the rest of the day.

Eight people were gored during the last festival in 2019 before the pandemic.

People running through the streets of Pamplona
People running through the streets of Pamplona (Alvaro Barrientos/AP)

Sixteen people have died in the bull runs since 1910. The last death occurred in 2009.

The bulls that run each morning are killed in bullfights in the afternoon by professional bullfighters.

The incredibly popular festivities that draw tens of thousands of visitors from around the world were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Spain’s strong vaccination programme has allowed life to return to more or less normal, but a recent uptick in cases has led Pamplona authorities to recommend using face masks when necessary.

That said, masks were a very rare sight in the throngs of people packing the city’s square for the official kick-off of the party on Wednesday or during the first bull run.