The Selfie that might have cost a life in the Running of the Bulls

Eneko Morán has been taking photos of the Running of the Bulls for the past three years. This year, with the customary tension and nervousness of the first Bullrun, was added the inconvenience of having to protect his equipment from a downpour of rain, just an hour before the running of the bulls began. In spite of everything he got himself into position on the fencing and he began to shoot his camera as soon as the bullrun got underway.  And he has managed to get a pretty awesome series of photos. When he began to check his photos after the event finished, he noticed that he had captured what he thought was a knockdown made by one of the El Puerto bulls. However, when he got back to the office of, we were able to confirm that the runner who was caught by the bull had been looking at his cell phone with both hands, as if he were taking a Selfie on the stretch of the course. A reckless action that could easily have cost him his life.  .

As can be seen in the first of the images, the runner is totally unaware of the approaching bull and is focused on his cell phone. The succeeding image shows the bull catching the unsuspecting runner. (Image from Eneko Morán)

The whole sequence of photos shows exactly what happened. And it should be remembered that a Town Hall statute specifically states that all cell phones and cameras are banned from use inside the whole length of the course of the Running of the Bulls.

The bull that gored a friend

The first day at work, when a long –dreamed fantasy becomes a reality.  All those who live the Sanfermin fiestas with passion, dream of immortalizing its face. The Running of the Bulls forms a core part of a range of experiences filled with emotions during the fiestas and, for anyone who loves photography, to work during this event is something almost magical.

Miguel Fernández, a photographer from captured the image of a goring on his very first year at the photographer’s fencing. However, what he did not expect to find was that the runner on the receiving end of the bad goring was none other than a close friend of his: Juan Pedro Lecuona. The bull, whose victim his friend was to become, is the one in the image that is racing down to the entrance of the bull ring in the photo. “This dun-colored bull is the one who gored my friend, Lecuona. It was a really awesome moment for me”, explains Fernández.

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10 minutes to go

Everyone should be aware that Running the Bulls is by no means a frivolous event. To run against the horns of a fighting bull, to expose yourself so directly in front of an animal that could so easily kill you, needs at least some preparation, both physical and mental. A large part of that preparation involves the mental aspect. The control of one’s emotions is vital when one’s very life is in danger. Some runners think through their run and try to anticipate, to the extent that this is possible, how the Running will unfold and to anticipate some possible escapes, should this become necessary when the bull is drawing close. Others simply try to overcome any sense of fear and look to family, friends and above all, other runners for comfort when fear creeps in before they run.

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Just a scare, miraculously

Sometimes, luck can smile on you, even when nobody would believe it were possible. And that is particularly true in an event such as the Sanfermin Running of the Bulls. Javier Martínez de la Puente, one of the best photographers at had the luck to be a witness to one of those moments of pure reprieve that come with an air of sheer miracle about them. At the very moment of taking the snapshot, his initial thinking was to catch the moment of the goring but, to his complete surprise, no goring took place. “It was simply a case of pure luck. Nothing but pure luck. A great piece of luck for that runner “, explains Javier.

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Waiting for the bombshell since 4.30 in the morning

Photographer Mikel Lasa has always been attracted by the corner of Mercaderes with Estafeta Street, very close to one of the Kukuxumusu stores, but he never seemed to be able to arrive there on time.

By 5.30 a.m. all the places there seemed to have been taken. So, most of the time, he had to do with getting a place on the opposite corner. With the passing of the years, he became more organized and he began arriving at his pet ‘spot’ at 4:30 a.m. or even earlier, equipped with his anti-sciatic foldable chair.

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Dreams that become memories

Loving your work can become an addiction and losing it could become a tragedy. One clear example is the case of Natalia Gómez, a photographer with who, in 2015,  was able to demonstrate to herself “that your dreams can turn into reality” when she began to take photos of the Pamplona Running of the Bulls  with her camera in hand at one of the most dangerous spots along the course –  the entrance leading into the bullring. “Taking photos of the Running of the Bulls from the fencing is the most adrenalin-pumping thing I have ever done. It combines a love for the event with a love for photography which all comes with the added buzz of adrenalin that is almost too much to go through “, affirms Natalia.

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“Let me breathe”

Sundays during Sanfermin, at 6:45 a.m. Carlos Mediavilla finds a spot for himself at the fencing in Duque de Ahumada Street in order to try to get image that he has been imagining for some time. Because he knows that at about one hour later, it`s very likely that two sun beams will appear there and enhance the scene with a very special short-lived beam of light.

Something like that has happened in this photo. Here, hundreds of runners may be seen, many of them regular runners on this stretch of the course, as they all rush forward towards the bull ring. Meanwhile, hundreds of other people look on from the balconies and fencing, getting their own dose of adrenalin from the whole scene. And, in among the packed crowd, the head of a bull looking as if it had a frightened gesture on its face.

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Adrenalin and blood at the entrance to the bull ring

Sometimes the photos of the Running of the Bulls can be a little or indeed a lot, hard-hitting ones. Like this one which was chosen by José Antonio Pérez Gómez, another one of our special group of photographers at Funny enough, the bull shown here is Ermitaño, the self-same Miura bull that wished to charge another of our photographers, Javier Ibáñez.

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The Miura bull that wished to toss a photographer

Javier Ibáñez Iborra is particularly fond of taking photos of the Running of the Bulls at the Telefónica-Callejon stretch. He can be found most mornings of the Sanfermin fiestas around that spot since he first came here about fifteen years ago. It is one of the places along the course that tends to produce curious situations, with loose bulls, or maybe one that turns back and goes in the opposite direction …

Whenever anything unusual like that happens, he does not hesitate to throw himself on the ground, with his heart racing at 100 per hour, for sure. And he attempts to take his photos from this position, just like this one that he has picked out from the hundreds of snapshots that he has captured over the years.

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