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Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Pamplona run kicks off with injuries
A man is hooked by a bull during the first San Fermin bull run in Pamplona
This year's first bull run was unusually risky
The annual bull running festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona got off to a dangerous start on Sunday when a number of people were injured in the first dash through the streets.

Thousands of revellers hold up traditional red scarves in the central plaza in Pamplona
The city is usually jammed with party revellers
Some were gored by the animals' horns as a number of the bulls slipped on the dew-covered cobblestones on their way to the city bullring.

Partly as a result of this, the 825-metre-run through the narrow, winding streets took over seven minutes - more than twice the usual time.

The San Fermin festival begins on the morning of each 7 July, when thousands of spectators - mostly men - run alongside six bulls from a pen to the arena.

The fiesta was immortalised by Ernest Hemingway in his 1927 novel Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises.

Bullfight extravaganza

Every year, tens of thousands of foreigners flock to the San Fermin festival, but the numbers at the opening run were unusually high because it fell on a Sunday.

Pamplona bull runners sprint ahead of a fighting bull
The fiesta dates back to 1591

Crowds jammed the city's central square for the traditional firework display that starts a week of round-the-clock drinking, partying and an early morning run with half a dozen fighting bulls.

"Why am I running? I love bulls and I love parties," Rafael, 28, from Valencia told the Reuters news agency.

But only a few hundred of the bravest gather in the old quarter each morning pursued by six stampeding bulls. The fighting bulls are killed by matadors each afternoon.

The bulls usually injure several people each day. Since the start of the last century, 13 runners have been fatally gored or trampled to death.

The running of the bulls dates back to 1591, when its purpose was to move the bulls into the arena.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Lakhvir Gill
"Spain's running of the bulls is most brutal yet"
See also:

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