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My Date with the Bulls

I go to bed early, 11.30pm, with the intention of a good night sleep before I run with the bulls in the 1st bullrun of 2013. The music is still blaring at the Fanatics campsite and I somehow manage to fall asleep, despite all the nervous energy running through my veins. 4.30am comes around and phone alarms can be heard around the campsite. The tour guides are walking amongst the 600 tents telling everyone the 1st bus leaves at 5.15.

Iím wide awake, more awake than Iíve ever been. For today, I run with the bulls. As I write this, I still canít believe I did it and the heart is racing. I make the 5.15am bus with ease and 10mins later we arrive in Pamplona.

We walk 10mins through the streets of Pamplona which are packed with people still covered in Sangria and in dire need of a bottle of water and a siesta. We arrive at our starting point, just after City Hall and stand for 2hrs as the crowd swells. ďWhats the time? How long do we have?Ē can be heard minute after minute. 7.30am and the police make their presence known.

They start the culling process. From the bullring to Deadmanís corner, everyone is cleared out. Then they come for us. We think we are being culled.

Weíve travelled halfway round the world for this. Surely not. As the Police continue the cull, they stretch us along the course. We arrive at Deadmanís corner, itís about 7.55am (took my heartbeat just prior to this and was 95 bpm), weíre safe, weíre not getting culled. We finish about 50m past Deadmanís corner and itís now about 7.59am. Not a safe position to be at and the heart is racing, just as it is now. On cue, Kahl, the Fanatics tour guide in his 12th run comes past. We recognise the bright yellow shirt and decide he is the best person to follow.

Bang. 8am on the 7th of the 7th. The first firecracker is lit and the noise is not mistaken. The bulls are on their way. Off we go at a slow pace towards the Plaza de Toros (bullring). As we run, we try not to look back, for this is one of golden rules. Instead, we keep one eye on the balconies. When the people on these balconies are staring not too far behind us, we know its game on. The bulls are right behind us. We find the first vacant part of the barrier and hold on. The bulls go past.

They are running at a solid pace! From a quick glance, it looks as though theyíre all together. We jump off the barrier and chase after them. Weíre now 150m from the bullring and a roar is heard from behind, people are looking back in fear. The looks on their faces needs to be treated seriously. I look over my shoulder, there is another bull. It has become separated from the rest of them. This is not good.

Everyone is fleeing for safety. Any bit of the barrier is a good bit. I canít find one.

Iím 3 deep so I guess 2 people will be hurt before me. They see clear space ahead and bolt. Iím now front and centre with the bull looking right at me and the girl beside me. I will never forget the look in her eyes. Iíd daresay it may have been similar to mine. Iíve never been so scared. I begin to climb on people. A Spanish guy grabs me by the back of the shirt and pulls me up onto the barrier. He gives me a hug and says ďyouíre ok nowĒ. I give him the standard Aussie ďCheers mateĒ. The bull then turns and runs towards the ring. I jump off the fence and chase it into the ring.

Iíve done it. I made the bullring. Not everyone who runs makes it this far. Itís a sense of accomplishment. A moment I will never ever forget. I feel invincible. Nobody can stop me. I even allow myself to contemplate running for a 2nd time. Mum wouldnít think this is a good idea, nor would my Grandparents.

8am on the 7th of July will be a date that Iíll never forget.

In years to come Iíll be on YouTube and Google looking up the news and videos from the bullruns. Hopefully the young Aussie girl who was gored over the final couple of days will be able to do the same thing.
Thu 25/07/2013 Damien Budd 0 views

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