At least seven people have been hospitalized and 67 more were tended to by medics during the first five bull runs of this year’s San Fermin festival in Spain but, despite this, some veteran runners are complaining that the tradition is growing increasingly dull.
A group of protesters sat in the streets of Pamplona before Thursday’s run, which featuring one goring, to complain that the tradition has become lackluster due new protective measures that limit the bulls' exposure to runners.
This year the bulls have generally stayed behind the large steers which quickly guide them through the narrow, twisting streets to Pamplona's bullring, where the bulls will be killed in bullfights later in the day.
An adherent has also been applied for over a decade to the cobblestoned streets which helps prevent the animals from slipping and being separated from the pack.
The nine-day festival has already seen at least 7 hospitalizations, including one American lawyer who was gored in the neck and a 27-year-old man from Valencia who was gored in the arm.
According to the Red Cross, at least 67 people were also tended to by medics on site.
While some runners feel these numbers don’t stack up to previous years, some annual attendees have argued that the 930-yard dash has become increasingly fast-paced over the years.
Reggie Gooden, a 60-year-old native of New York, told The Associated Press that the bull runs have gotten shorter over the 30 years he has attended the festival due to the speed of the bulls.
He doesn't run now due to some bad knees, but Gooden said that the speed of the bull runs makes it almost impossible for even the most experienced runners to pull off the feat of sprinting just in front of a bull's horns for several yards.
"I came in '89 and '90, and the runs were over 4 minutes, now they are over 2 minutes," he said. "What they have done protects the bulls, and it also protects the runners, because nobody is going to get out in front of them now... It is just the evolution of bull-running."
The running of the bulls — and the nine days of seamless partying that accompanies the festival — draws about 1 million spectators to the city of 200,000 every year. The bulls chosen to race in Pamplona often weigh in the range of 1,102 to 1,323 pounds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.