Spain's famous "running of the bulls" resumed Thursday in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in 2020.
Officially known as the San Fermin festival, Pamplona's running of the bulls is one of Europe's most celebrated events. It features specially bred fighting bulls, guided by six tame steers that keep the herd together as several thousand runners, most of them dressed in white with red neck scarves, run through the city's narrow streets ahead of them.
The course runs more than 800 meters and ends in Pamplona's bullring. Thursday's run lasted 2 minutes and 35 seconds.
Emergency and medical officials say at least five people were taken to the hospital due to injuries caused by falls, but nobody was gored. In the history of the event, at least 16 runners have lost their lives since records began in 1910, the most recent casualty being a man gored by a bull in 2009.
The bulls will eventually die in bullfights later in the festival. Animal rights activists have campaigned against the death of the animals, but the bull fight is still popular among segments of Spanish society and an integral part of the San Fermín festival.
It dates back to the Middle Ages and has religious origins. Participants still chant to an image of the saint and ask for his blessing before the run, which starts at 8 a.m.
The event was popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who described it in some detail in his novel, The Sun Also Rises. The festival attracts thousands of thrill-seekers and revelers from around the world, who come to participate in or watch the morning bull runs over the week-long festival.
The festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Some information is from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.