Opinion: Why I risk death to run with the bulls – KTVZ

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(CNN) — July 11, 2014 Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, ​​Spain. A 1,200-pound black bull with huge horns ran just a few feet behind me, foaming at the mouth, his breath hot on my back.

As a tourist pushed me to the ground, Brevito, a bull from the Victoriano del Rio ranch, trotted up, locked eyes on me and aimed his long, curved horn at my inner thigh. He gracefully lifts me into the air and we both land on the cobblestone pavement. As I broke free from the horn, a medic stabbed me again below the knee before pulling me to safety under the wooden railing.

From the second hole, a garden vein flowed from my leg and filled my shoe, spilling over the cobblestones and into the hole, burning the racquetball-sized flesh on my inner thigh. “This is the end of my life,” I thought. Immediately, my friend Michael Hemingway, a photojournalist and grandson of the famous author, appeared in his red press suit with his camera around his neck. He quickly helped me up, kneeling down and holding my hand. After checking with the medic (this happened on the street, not in the hospital) Michael told me that the artery was fine. I was going to live.

In the midst of the ordeal, I knew that if I had lived, I would have gone back to running. of Running of the bullsA centuries-old tradition in Spain is a big part of me. It is deep in my heart and soul.

Over the past 18 years, I’ve been as close to the culture as an outsider can get. It all started with the writing of another American Nobel Prize-winning writer, Ernest Hemingway, who was very close to this culture. Jake Barnes, one of Hemingway’s most memorable characters in the novel, said, “None but bull-fighters live their lives to the end.”The sun will riseHe said.

That book completely changed my life. I was a troubled child and a reluctant reader. I had never read a cover-to-cover novel in my life until I sat down with a novella at age 20. I read it once in the college library. The story is an amazing adventure inside. San Fermin partyAlso known as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Hemingway explored the raw power of the festival with a special appreciation for the legend Well Bull, Spanish fighting bull. When I finished reading that novel, I decided to go to Spain and run with the bulls and become a writer.

I first traveled to Spain in 2005 and had the experience of running with the bulls. I was baptized. Since then, I’ve learned about the culture by watching endless video footage of the race and seeking out gurus like Graeme Galloway, Joe Distler and Juan Pedro Lecuona. I was obsessed with improving as a runner. So I started running with Lecuona, David Rodríguez, Aitor Aristegui and others leading the bulls into the streets.

The race is considered successful when it is run directly in front of the bull, known as “running on the horns”. That means the animal will accept you as its leader and follow you. This time is transcendental. It makes you feel like you are one with the Taurus God. Once you feel it, you will become a devoted believer. It is no less than a religious experience.

No He started writing This cultural event has led to major sales and long-lasting friendships. That’s how I met and became friends with John Hemingway and his son Michael, a photojournalist who helped me in 2014.

Ernest Hemingway At the end of a bull’s horn I stood on the road to death And when I was looking for a friend Another Hemingway came to the rescue.

Due to the beautiful, dangerous and sometimes gruesome images of the Fiesta de San Fermin bull run, the running of the bulls captures the attention of international news media every summer. The holiday It drives tourism In Pamplona, ​​city A little more than 200,000 inhabitantss – except during the running of the bulls when the crowd swells beyond the peak season one million.

The races draw about 2,000 participants on weekdays and about 3,500 on weekends. According to the event’s official website. In the year In 2014, more than half of the runners were foreigners and two out of three were participating for the first time. According to the survey. (The event used Technology (Since 2011, to facilitate the counting of runners and the collection of data.)

Unsurprisingly, the culture has long been criticized. Animal rights organizations criticized An event that states that bulls and people are injured. But, in my experience, bulls rarely get hurt in a race. If they are injured, it is usually from falls and mauling by other bulls. Similarly, Most people are hurt by other people.Thousands run through the streets. But when a bull rushes, that according to the government of Pamplona will be approx. One of 2,500 participants During the San Fermin celebrations, the injuries can be life-threatening.

Death happens. Just last month, The bull killed him 61-year-old Jose Antonio Subis in Valencia. Since 1910, Pamplona has been holding records since 1910. 16 people died. In Las Fiestas de San Fermin. And last year alone, 10 people lost their lives in Spain’s Valencia, Madrid, Castilla León and Navarra regions during thousands of bullfighting events. The deaths are tragic, but they are part of an ancient scene that is at once tragic and poetic.

Pamlona also gave me love. Last year, I married Paula Andion Zabalza, whom I once met Fiesta In the year In an apartment overlooking the 2019 bull run. I was preparing to enter the course and Paula was working for a friend of mine who ran a tourism company.

Paula’s family is deeply involved in the Spanish bull world and her grandfather, Fernando Zabalza, ran the bull ring in Tafala, near Pamplona, ​​where most of the family lived. Fernando had only daughters and passed on his love for bulls to them. Like her sisters, Paula is very knowledgable about bulls and often we have time to argue about them before I know I really need to ask her. I am still learning many things about the culture from her and her family. Their relationship with Toro Bravo is one I long to hear and experience.

That’s why people like me take to the streets with these animals year after year: we want to connect with the primal relationship between man and bull – noble but sometimes deadly.

Hemingway’s writing, the culture of the Bull Walking – and especially the majestic animals – completely changed my life. As a full-time professor of English and Communication, I plan to teach “The Sun Also Rises” to my students. At the very least, I hope to teach them to respect and appreciate other people’s cultural heritage as much as the book and the bulls inspired me.

CNN-Wire
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