Thrills with the Cebada Gago bulls

Just one injury from a jab of the horns in Estafeta and two other runners taken off to hospital

Photography: Javier Ibáñez

The bulls from the Cadiz bull ranch of Cebada Gago – one of the most veteran breeds of the Sanfermin fiestas and among the most dangerous – took part in this second running of the bulls of Sanfermin 2009. It was a very fast run which only lasted 2 min. 35 sec. and only produced three casualties in need of hospital treatment, one of them for a jab from the horn of a bull. In spite of the bad name that this bull-breed has gathered over the years as a dangerous animal and the fact that there were a large number of runners along the whole stretch of the running today, the bulls behaved quite nobly. The moments of greatest tension were to be seen in Estafeta and at the Telefónica stretch, where the bulls got somewhat separated and stretched out and here the runners could get in close to the horns to display some fine running. Trip-ups and falls took place on both these stretches, but the bulls did not charge the runners with their horns.

After the canticles were sung to the figure of San Fermin in Santo Domingo – and this year both in Basque language and in Spanish – the rocket went off to announce the opening of the pens. The bulls took a little time before charging out of the pens surrounded by the bell-oxen. They charged up the Santo Domingo stretch in a tight pack at a very fast pace. One of the bell-oxen slipped up and caused two bulls to trip up just behind it. But the bulls quickly got to their feet and ran straight ahead soon catching up with the others. The bell-oxen were at the front and the bulls tucked in behind them all along this part of the course.

By the end of the Santo Domingo stretch and going into City Hall square, five bulls were now at the front, surrounded by the bell-oxen. One of the bulls which had earlier slipped up was now a little behind the rest but running straight ahead without shaping to charge any runners. The pack continued to run at a fast pace across Mercaderes and several bulls slipped up here. But again they got quickly to their feet and charged ahead into Estafeta.

The bulls did not slip up as they headed into the bend at the start of Estafeta nor did they hit the fencing lining the stretch of the bend. One black bull was now leading the rest and surrounded by four bell-oxen as they headed up the Estafeta stretch. Half-way up the street, one bull slipped up again and got a bit separated from the rest.

Along Estafeta Street the bulls began to stretch out a bit with one bull leading the field along with four bell-oxen while behind four bulls ran together with one bell-oxen and the rear bull was now somewhat left behind the others. This meant that the runners could find some space in front of the horns to display some daring running, in spite of the dense number of runners.

The pack continued on into Telefónica at a very fast pace,with the black bull still leading the pack on, with the other four bulls coming behind together and the last one some meters further back. In this order the animals entered the bullring and they quickly headed for the pens without creating any moments of tension inside the arena.