The encierro, meaning "to be closed in," involves many hundreds of people running in front of six bulls and another six steers down an 825-metre (0.51 mile) stretch of narrow streets of a section of the old town of Pamplona.
Injuries are common to the participants who may be gored or trampled, and to the bulls, whose hooves grip poorly on the paved or cobbled street surfaces. Whenever a bull gets separated from the herd, it can be very dangerous because it becomes disoriented and often attacks anything, or anyone who attracts its attention.
Although deaths are rare, the historical evolution of the bull-running seems to have made it an ever-more dangerous activity. The number of risky situations (such as the pile-ups) and the number of injured seem to increase as time goes by. Until the double row of fencing was set up, it was even dangerous for the spectators, as it was not unusual for a bull to break through the one line of fencing. On most occasions only a super-efficient ambulance service saves the lives of those gored as the loss of blood is mortal by necessity.Observers say foreigners — especially, for some reason, Americans — are most likely to be injured. "Americans come here with the image of The Sun Also Rises and just don't realize how dangerous it is and how easy it is to trip up," Daniel Ross, an American vice consul in Spain, told the New York Times.
Participants report running with the bulls is mad, frantic and magic all at the same time and it's over very quickly. Many say the feeling afterward is quite amazing. Some spectators are shocked while others are incredulous. Locals and experienced runners take it all in their stride and re-commence partying. First time runners and those who have had a narrow escape or even a near death experience are found wandering or sitting quietly no doubt sharing a few grateful moments with Saint Fermin himself.
The nightly bullfights, which take place at 6.30pm, are also noisy, colorful affairs. However, tickets are quite limited and vary in price.