8 surefire tips for surviving the Running of the Bulls

The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, currently underway, is a testament to machismo, the indomitability of the human spirit, and, of course, complete and utter idiocy. Naturally, dudes the world over converge on this old city in Northern Spain to take part in the festivities, usually with the help of a little liquid courage. But if you’re going to run with the bulls, you need to know what you’re doing, or else you’re liable to find yourself impaled on the end of a longhorn while news crews and photographers capture the event for everyone else to laugh at. So, in order to avoid a horn up the ass, we thought we’d help you out with these eight go-to tips for surviving the Running of the Bulls.

8. Know the Course

This one is pretty basic. Before you run, you should probably get at least a general idea of the layout of the city. After all, you don’t want to be the dude just aimlessly wandering around while one ton bulls try to gore you to death. Figure out where the corners are, so you can anticipate them when you’re actually running the course. That way, you won’t get knocked over by a horde of terrified idiots as they try to take a sharp turn and you just barrel on obliviously. You should be the terrified idiot taking those sharp corners like a pro, hugging the edges while the bulls fly by. Take a walk-thru the day before and make a mental note of the landmarks. Sure, the adrenaline will probably make all that knowledge useless, but maybe, just maybe, it will keep you from becoming a human kebob.

7. Start Further Down the Course

Look, there is no shame in cheating a little bit. In fact, the cops and city officials will probably insist that all tourists find a spot way down (waaaaay down) the course, so that they can avoid being gored and flung into the crowd two seconds after the run starts. Because unless you are Usain Bolt on PCP, you are not going to make it. I know it sounds like the coward’s way out, but frankly, you could start five feet away from the finish, and people will still think you have brass balls.

6. Listen for the Starting Rockets

Yeah, they don’t fuck around in Pamplona. Instead of a starting gun, they use starting rockets (well, bottle rockets, but let’s not quibble over details.) The first one indicates that the bulls have been released, the second is the signal that you better start running like Speedy Gonzalez, otherwise you’ll probably end up with a giant horn impaled in your prostate or be crushed to death by frantic drunks and adrenaline junkies.

5. Be Respectful

This isn’t so much about the run itself as it is about surviving Pamplona. After all, this is actually a local religious festival, and they are letting you take part because, well, they like your money. What they don’t like is drunk jackasses puking all over their town and making a mockery of their festival. You won’t have much luck running from the bulls if you spend the night before running from some dude in the local jail cell trying to give you a horn of his own. But that’s exactly what will happen if you act like an asshole.

4. Stick to the Side of a Bull

Well, not literally. There are many different strategies for successfully running with the bulls instead of just running away from them. The best if you find yourself amidst the crush of bulls is to try to get alongside of one and run with it as long as you can. The bulls are too big to turn and so you’ll get some protection. Just don’t get delusions of grandeur and try to ride one. That, uh, that won’t end well. Still, you’d be a legend forever. And also a Darwin Award candidate, but that’s just a minor detail really.

3. Stay on Your Feet

I can’t stress this enough. The last thing you want to do is fall down in the middle of a crowd of terrified dudes who will stomp your brains like a rotten pumpkin. And even if you somehow survive the crush of the runners, you still have several one ton bulls to worry about. One of them steps on you, and the next think you know you’re running from those bulls through the pearly gates while St. Peter mutters “jackass” under his breath. If you do fall, though – and you could, especially because those bastards wash down the cobblestone streets, which makes them extra slippery – do not panic and whatever you do, do not try to get back up. Curl up, protect your head and neck and just hope like hell that you can survive.

2. Run Like Hell, Dummy

There are giant bulls trying to kill you! What’s the matter with you? Run, dummy! Run!

1. Don’t Do It

Are you stupid? Don’t do this. I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times, but these are one ton angry bulls with giant swords growing out of their heads. And they will cut through you like hot butter if you get in their way. Would you just wander onto a firing range just for the thrill of it? Hell no. So why are you doing this, you fool? Sure, you’ll have a kick-ass story to tell and it will probably get you laid, but… oh, okay, I get it. Carry on, friends. Carry on.

Running of the Bulls image by Migel/Shutterstock
Running of the Bull closing image by Migel/Shutterstock
Man asleep on couch image by Shutterstock