To most Europeans, summer in Pamplona means tourists, tans, and
the legendary running of the bulls. But animal rights activists
have created a ‘Human Race’ that would make Hemingway spill his
mojito: The Running of the Nudes, a naked jog through the streets
of Pamplona to protest violence against Spain’s beleaguered bulls.
The event, begun in 2002 and taking place annually on July 5,
features a diverse group of animal rights activists and entertains
tourists and locals alike with an in-the-buff alternative to the
city’s traditional bovine bluster.
Though over 40,000 bulls are slaughtered in Spanish rings each
year, the majority of Spaniards show no interest in bullfighting,
viewing it as a barbaric relic of older, more impoverished times.
Hapless tourists, many of whom leave their first fight in disgust,
are the ones who subsidize bullfighting and allow the brutal
tradition to continue.
A traditional precursor to the bullfighting season, the running
of the bulls is a highly stressful event for the animals involved.
As the terrified bulls slip madly across the pavement, for which
their hooves are hopelessly ill suited, they are teased and
tormented by tail-pulling, stick-wielding spectators. The bulls are
not the only ones placed at risk, though, as onlookers and runners
are often gored or trampled by the bulls, sometimes fatally. Once
the bulls reach the ring, they are horrifically killed through
repeated and prolonged stabbing and cutting.
The new nonviolent event is a favorite among locals. The
activists, many of whom are Spanish themselves, are greeted with
cheers and laughter. One runner relates that two old men, locals
from Pamplona, ‘Thanked us for being so brave. They said that the
bullfights were disgusting and needed to stop and that we had the
right idea.’ The event is certainly preferable to its predecessor
in one respect: both spectators and participants are less likely to
— Brendan Themes
Running of the
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