Pamplona – No runners suffered gorings or other serious injuries Thursday in the eighth and final running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival, held annually in this northern Spanish city.
The pens of the Santo Domingo corrals opened for the last time this year at 8:00 a.m. sharp to release the Nuñez del Cuvillo estate's herd of six bulls and six steers, which moved in orderly fashion along the half-mile route to the Pamplona bullring.
The final bull run attracted fewer participants than on previous days and that allowed for a safe distance to be maintained between the animals and runners, with the only minor injuries the result of some people slipping and falling to the ground.
At the end of the run, at least three runners were taken to the hospital with assorted bumps and bruises.
The nine-day San Fermin festival got under way on July 6 with the traditional firing of a rocket in front of Pamplona city hall amid the shouts of thousands of people and will end Thursday at midnight when a crowd holding up red scarves and candles sings the "Pobre de Mi" song as fireworks light up the sky.
A total of 2.7 million euros ($3.8 million) was budgeted this year for the festival, whose program included 342 music shows, 137 family related activities and 33 events involving bulls.
The festival is best known for its tension- and emotion-filled bull runs, which this year left a few runners gored but no one fatally wounded.
A total of 15 runners have been killed since statistics began to be kept in the early 20th century and many others have suffered gorings and other serious injuries.
The run to the bull ring is especially dangerous because some people take part in the event after all-night drinking binges, which makes them reckless and more likely to get too close to animals that weigh in excess of 500 kilos (1,100 pounds).
The running of the bulls is monitored by experts who control the route and try to prevent accidents, but, inevitably, runners fall, suffer cuts and bruises, and are even gored by the animals.
The festival, begun about 400 years ago, was popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."