San Fermín Roundup


Our editor, who is on holiday, has asked me to step into the breech to do a little roundup on the years events in Pamplona to accompany Joseph S. Furey’s “excellent” article in the Daily Telegraph magazine today. (We suspect he called it excellent because the article says of him, “Alexander Fiske-Harrison… a stone-cold pragmatist with a poet’s heart.”)

The editor, left, and Dennis Clancey hero of earlier posts this year, right, speaking to Allen Carney, son of Matt, the first runner and prime subject of today's Daily Telegraph article (Photo by fellow bull-runner Craig MacPherson)

The Editor, left, and Dennis Clancey from earlier posts this year, right, speaking to Allen Carney, noted bull-runner and son of Matt Carney, the first English-speaking bull-runner and prime subject of today’s Daily Telegraph article (Photo by Craig MacPherson)

So here, courtesy of our friends at the Diario de Navarra, is the San Fermín news roundup, forgive the pun. (An encierro – the word we translate as ‘bull-run’ – actually translates as ‘enclosure’, ‘corraling’ or… roundup.)

1.4 million people attended the Fiesta that is the feria de San Fermín, an increase of almost 90,000 people on last year (although last year was cold and wet which may explain a lot.) Despite this, the number of recorded complaints to the police were down from 532 to 429.

Despite this increase, which meant that, for example, the number of spectators at the fireworks increased by 14%, the number of runners was down 2.9% to 16,629 overall, 497 less than last year.

The fullest day, Saturday, July 11th saw 2,576 people running, as compared with the fullest day last year, Sunday, July 13th, which had 2,924. According to City Hall, 54% of runners were from outside Spain, of the remainder, 14% were from Navarre, two thirds of them being from Pamplona itself.

This year saw the fastest encierro, which was by the bulls of Don Eduardo and Don Antonio Miura, who covered the 848.6 metres in 2 minutes and 2 seconds, giving them an average speed of 15.56 miles per hour. (It is worth noting that David Rudisha, the holder of the 800m world record – 1 minute 40.9 seconds – averaged 17.73mph. However, he is neither as fast at the beginning nor as slow at the end.)

This year also set another first: on the day there were the most runners in the streets, there were the least bulls in history. A cárdeno oscuro meano – basically ‘dark brown’ – 535kg, 4 year, 10 month old bull called Curioso I (Nº 34.), from the ranch of José Escolar Gil, decided that it didn’t want to run and returned to the corrals alone and had to be later transported by truck.

Despite the fact that there were only ten horns in the street, there were still the most horn wounds of any day – again showing that the people are the issue, not the bulls – with four that day out of the total ten this year, along with 42 other hospitalisations. (Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune should fire which ever staffer writes articles saying there were none.

This still makes it a remarkably clean year which owes a great deal to the courage and skill of the pastores, ‘herdsmen’, who run in their green polo shirt with their long ash canes, and also the efficacy of the police.

Editor’s [pedantic] Note [from his email]: Please remember to say the pastores’ canes are ash. People keep writing that they are willow or bamboo, which is completely wrong. The canes are made from the common ash tree, Fraxinus excelsior, for the historic reason that that is what the lances used before the canes were made from. ‘Ash’ is Old English for spear, just as ‘Fraxinus’ is in Latin, from which they Spanish word for the wood, fresno, derives.

Speaking of police, under the new system of fines, 9 were issued this year: 3 for attempting to film or photograph the encierro from within, 1 for running towards the animals, 2 for citing the bull to charge, 2 for touching the cattle and 1 for blocking the exit of other runners through the barriers.

Fines II

A guide to the system of fines in Pamplona. For a fuller explanation, see the section in Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona

This brings us on to our concluding point. It should be obvious that the current asinine habit of photographing and filming oneself doing everything from having breakfast to actually dying had to be countered by an increased vigilance by the police within the encierro: people focusing on their phone have added a third entity to their field of focus when their should be only two – Where are the bulls? Where are the other people? – and as a result, things like the below happen. I believe this young American man lost his spleen.

Photo courtesy of Diario de Navarra

Photo courtesy of Diario de Navarra / EFE

However, it is easy for policing to go too far. On the second day of Pamplona’s encierros this year, a policeman came over to Joe Distler before the bulls were released to give him a fine incurred the day before for standing on the same spot on calle Estafeta, next its corner with calle Mercaderes, as he has for the past few years. He is in sleeveless red in the photo below. As you can also see, he forms no obstruction to other runners nor distraction to the bulls, something which none other than Miguel Reta, the pastor for that section of the encierro, and a breeder of bulls himself, pointed out.

Joe Distler on his corner, July 7th, 2015 (Photo courtest of The Atlantic by Andres Kudacki - AP)

Joe Distler on his corner, July 7th, 2015 (Photo courtest of The Atlantic by Andres Kudacki – AP)

If you don’t know who Joe Distler is, his attachment to and commitment to the encierros of Pamplona are explained by one simple fact. He first came to Pamplona in 1967 after reading Robert Daley’s Swords Of Spain, missed 1968, and then returned to run in 1969, met Matt Carney and began running with him, and didn’t miss another encierro until 2013. There is a big thing in Pamplona about the democratic nature of the run – runners are not toreros, they do not wear gold and lead their team and have their faces on posters, there is no escalafón – leader’s board – of runners nor any remuneration. In one of our editor’s commentaries for NBC’s Esquire Network, on which the running of the bulls is televised in the United States, he spoke half-jokingly off this. (Madrid-born runner David Ubeda had earlier that day been seen adjusting – ‘doffing’ – his trademark cap while running on the horns of a bull.)



However, it is worth pointing out that Joe Distler ran on the horns of the bulls, leading the herd, for practically all of his three and a half hundred or so mornings, usually alongside his friend and mentor Matt Carney, and often with Pamplonicas like Atanasio and Miguel Ángel Eguiluz. A few photos over the years are shown below.


13 July 1973 - Pamplona, Spain - encierro at telefonos with Joe Distler (L-Madras shirt)  Matt Carney (Center, looking at bull) and Jim Hollander, right, in number 2 T-shirt, looking back at bulls.

1973 – Pamplona, Spain – Joe Distler (left, checked shirt, looking back at bull) Matt Carney (centre, white shirt, looking back at bull) and the EPA photographer Jim Hollander (right, number 2 T-shirt, looking back at bull.) (Photo: Jim Hollander personal collection)


1972 - Pamplona, Spain - Joe Distler (white panama hat, black jacket) and Matt Carney (dark sleeveless shirt) (Photo courtesy of the late, great El Bomber)

1972 – Pamplona, Spain – Joe Distler (white panama hat, black suit) and Matt Carney (dark sleeveless shirt, striped trousers) (Photo courtesy of El Bomber)


1980 - Pamplona, Spain. Running encierro at Telefonos. Joe and Antanasio - blurs from side. Photograph copyright 1980, Jim Hollander

1980 – Pamplona, Spain – Joe Dislter (centre, long sleeves) and Antanasio (Photo ©Jim Hollander)


1986 - Pamplona, Spain - Joe Distler in white jacket, Miguel Ángel Eguiluz leads the herd with moustache (Photo courtesy of Aplausos magazine)

1986 – Pamplona, Spain – Joe Distler (white jacket) and Miguel Ángel Eguiluz (moustache) (Photo courtesy of Aplausos magazine)


Joe Distler in sleeveless red,

July 14, 2005 – Pamplona, Spain – Joe Distler in sleeveless red (Photo courtesy of Life magazine)


To try to fine a runner of that experience for being a danger for being in the encierro is… well… the only thing that springs to mind is the famous case of the then Formula One World Champion, Alain Prost, being stopped and charged with speeding on a French motorway. Prost had been caught in his Porsche 911 Turbo driving at 230 km/h on roads with a speed limit of 130km/h. The sentencing judge, clearly a fan, summed up the trial with the memorable words, “I realise M’sieur Prost that at 230 kilometres per hour you are safer than every driver in France at 30, but the law insists I fine you – so I will fine you 10 francs.” (Which was worth £1 or $1.50 at the time.)

So, despite the chaos they create crossing the border on Bastille Day weekend, perhaps Pamplona has something to learn from the French after all…

Lucy G.
Dep. Ed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A close call in Pamplona


This morning was the bloodiest so far I this year’s Feria de San Fermín. With five people gored including one American according to Navarran authorities. Our friend Dennis Clancey came close to making it six (and two) as you can see in the photo…

Careful how you run your bulls, running “on the horns” is meant as metaphor.

Lucy G.

(Dep. Ed.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pamplona, bull running, bull gorings, Esquire TV and poetry from New York


The Fiesta so far has been one of moments of glory and moments of hilarity, all among old strangers and new friends. The star of the show has been the American bull-runner Dennis Clancey, formerly of 20th Special Forces Group in Iraq, and now one of the presenters of Esquire TV’s coverage of the encierro, the ‘bull-run’, as you can see in the photo below.

Dennis Clancey on Esquire TV in Pamplona

Dennis Clancey, centre, on Esquire TV in Pamplona

Dennis was running on the horns of the main herd of the bulls on July 9th down calle Mercaderes when the lone lead bull, which had shot out in front, came crashing to the ground in front of various runners standing on the side including the legendary Joe Distler. However, before anyone else could react, Dennis reached out with his hand and with a click of his fingers summoned the bull to join the rest of the herd and took them all around the curve.

Some were not so lucky, on July 7th, Mike Webster from Gainesville, Florida, photographed below running in previous years, was gored in the chest by a bull from the Jandilla ranch. However, Mike was released from hospital later that day and we’ve seen him recovering in various bars around town, dining out on his story. (Not true, Mike is one of the more dignified and humble runners.)

Mike Webster in striped top right

Mike Webster in striped orange and navy shirt

This weekend is set to be the most dangerous weekend of running, with the French Bastille Day holiday releasing thousands of new runners into the streets. Luckily a runner we haven’t seen so much of in the run this year, Alexander Fiske-Harrison, is present as ever in the press, having published ‘The survivor’s guide to running with the bulls’ in The Local, Spain’s English language newspaper (online here).

He is photographed below with John Hemingway (by Cristen Hemingway Jaynes, another of Ernest’s grandchildren) in Bar Windsor after running on July 7th this year.

Ernest Hemingway's grandson John talking with Alexander Fiske-Harrison in the Fiesta of Pamplona 2015, taken by Ernest's granddaughter Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

Ernest Hemingway’s grandson John talking with Alexander Fiske-Harrison in the Fiesta of Pamplona 2015, taken by Ernest’s granddaughter Cristen Hemingway Jaynes

We took this photo from his blog as apparently where he claims he has fled to France to avoid the French for the weekend.

We leave you below with his contribution to the magazine of the New York City Club Taurino (with thanks to Lore Monig, the club president.)

Lucy G.

(Dep. Ed.)



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pamplona 2015 begins…



Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona 2015 is the only official guide in the English language (see the Mayor’s foreword in post below.) The 1/3 price offer on this eBook guide to running the bulls expires in less than 48 hours, on Monday morning. After the first encierro, ‘bull-run’ on Tuesday it goes up a further 50%, back to its original price. Immediately below is my Preface to this new 2015 edition.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison

For Amazon (US), $4.99, click here.
For Amazon UK, £3, click here.
For Amazon Australia – $6.50 – click here.
For Amazon Canada – $6 – click here.
And similarly for Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, China, Japan, India

Preface to the Second Edition of 2015 by the Editor

The 2014 Feria del Toro is opened by the galloping alguaciles, ‘judges’, in the plaza de toros (Photo: Jim Hollander)

The 2014 Feria del Toro is opened by the galloping alguaciles, ‘judges’, in the plaza de toros (Photo: Jim Hollander)

The great Fiesta of last year, the feria de San Fermín of 2014 was an astonishing thing, but when is it not? However, as a direct result of it, there was a not a corner of the Earth, nor a language spoken by man, where this eBook was not talked about.

It started quietly: I wrote an article for Newsweek in early July giving an update on the world of bullfighting and Pamplona’s place in it, ending with a mention of the book. Our photographer, Jim Hollander, had some of his photos from the book up on CNN and John Hemingway did a piece for them as well. Maybe we took it too far, maybe there was an element of hubris when I said to the ‘Diary’ section of London’s main newspaper, the Evening Standard, that we were taking bets on which of the authors might get gored.


Alexander Fiske-Harrison’s feeling bullish about some bloody memoirs

Someone hide the red flags. The author and “bullfighter-philosopher” Alexander Fiske-Harrison has teamed up with John Hemingway — grandson of the novelist and bloodsports enthusiast Ernest — to put together a collection of essays and accounts of the infamous Spanish bull-running festival.

Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona also includes a brief memoir by the daughter of another famous bullfighting enthusiast – the film director Orson Welles – as well as instructions how to run from the best Spanish and American bull-runners.

“We’re dividing the profits between the five major contributors,” Fiske-Harrison tells ‘The Londoner’, “but as photographer Jim Hollander pointed out, he gets the best deal — he’s the only one not running with the bulls in two weeks so may well be the only one around to collect! Although since I’m the editor, he’s going to have to get the money out of my bank account.”

Well, the rest is history: one of our main co-authors Bill Hillmann had a horn punched straight through his leg by an angry half ton bull and it missed his femoral artery by an inch. This then went around the world as the ironic story of the year. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bulls Before Breakfast


Bulls Before Breakfast cover

It’s not often we recommend a book other than the e-Guide Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona, but our friend Peter Milligan’s book Bulls Before Breakfast is proving to be a cracking read – witty, well-researched and well-written. It was also nice to see the authorial staff of Fiesta getting their nods, from John Hemingway – Ernest’s grandson – who wrote the foreword, to the following description of the annual, end of feria runners’ breakfast at Casa Paco with Joe Distler, Jim Hollander and Alexander Fiske-Harrison. We enclose the screenshot from the Kindle edition. Given it’s published by St. Martin’s Press, the “mainstream and bestseller” imprint of Macmillan, and that it’s already been in the New York Post, we feel sure it will do well.

P.S.  Ari Deutsch is Milligan’s brother.

The Editor

Bulls Before Breakfast JD1

Here is Jim Hollander’s photo of that breakfast. There are, indeed, legends here, especially Julen Madina and Miguel Ángel Eguiluz, who also contributed to Fiesta.)

Casa Paco

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2015 Edition of Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona out now at 1/3 price for 1 week only…



The updated 2015 Edition of Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona is out today as an eBook on Amazon at one third the usual price for 1 week only!

For Amazon (US), $4.99, click here.
For Amazon UK, £3, click here.
For Amazon Australia – $6.50 – click here.
For Amazon Canada – $6 – click here.
And similarly for Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, China, Japan, India

This is the only official guide in the English language – the foreword from the Mayor of Pamplona is reprinted below – and also the best, featuring chapters from the most experienced American bull-runner in history, Joe Distler, John Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s grandson, ‘Buffalo’ Bill Hillmann who was famously gored last year, Beatrice Welles, Orson Welles’ daughter, the greatest Spanish and Basque runners – Julen Madina, Miguel Ángel Eguiluz, Jokin Zuasti and Joschu Lopez – and hundreds of photographs from EPA veteran photographer Jim Hollander’s half century in Pamplona. The book is edited and co-authored by Alexander Fiske-Harrison, a former bullfighter, bull-survival expert (as featured on ‘Bear Grylls: Extreme Survival)’, award-winning journalist for The Times and GQ, the BBC and Discovery channel and author of Sports Book Of The Year Finalist Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight.


Government of Pamplona

The Encierro – the ‘bull-run’ – is rooted deep in the history of Pamplona, where the bulls have, since medieval times, been driven for the evening bullfight from outside the city’s walls to its centre. Over the centuries, the Encierro has grown until it has become a legendary race, combining the weight of a tradition amassed over decades and the universal reach of an international event in the 21st century.

1776 gave us the introduction of fencing on the route of the Encierro; in 1856 the bulls ran for the first time on calle Estafeta; in 1922 the layout we have today was finally settled; in 1974 the start of the race was changed to 8 o’clock in the morning; in 1982 they began live television broadcasts, and this year the Encierro Ordinance has been approved, which regulates the conditions under which the run occurs and establishes appropriate mechanisms to punish (in ways which are minor, serious and very serious) behaviours that are not allowed.

During this time, the Encierro has been built on the work of thousands of people and with the scrupulous respect for a thing as attractive as it is dangerous. Because, as is well recognised in the title of this book, “How to Survive the bulls of Pamplona,” the story of the Encierro is also a hard story, alternating joys and victorious moments with black days in our old festival calendar. In fact, since the San Fermín festival last year, one of the fence posts located in the plaza Consistorial serves as a tribute to the 15 people who have lost their lives on the run, with a caption that reads “To the fallen of the Encierro.”

With all its sharp edges, its beauty, its danger and its difficulties, the Encierro is now a spectacular space, with close to 3,500 runners risking their lives every morning, backed up by first-class support along the entire route and with more than 440 journalists accredited to send their updates to countries in all continents.

However, beyond the importance of the Encierro, the appeal of the fiestas of San Fermín are not just in the legendary run. We have eight and a half days full of joy and fun, and with a festive array composed of more than 400 events, most notably the Chupinazo, Procession and dances of the Giants and Big Heads, that underpin the excellent environment that lives on the streets of Pamplona and serves to renew year after year, the greatness of an long-awaited and heartfelt holiday.

As Mayor of Pamplona it is a great joy to participate in a book like this, especially one aimed at the English-speaking community, because of its commitment to approaching the San Fermín liturgy with respect for the traditions of Pamplona as its roadmap, and valuable testimonies from people who have, over decades, learned how participate in the Encierro with aplomb.

In this sense, I want to take the opportunity afforded to me in this foreword to congratulate Alexander Fiske-Harrison for this story, and all those who took part in this project. I am sure that this work will become a great reference for all lovers of the Encierro beyond our borders, and serve as a source of information for people who want to find out the details that have defined, for centuries, the most famous bull-run in the world.

And finally, a tip. If you have the opportunity to visit, do not hesitate. Pamplona awaits you with open arms and with only two conditions: the desire to have a good time and respect for the city and its traditions.

¡Viva San Fermín!

Don Enrique Maya

Mayor of Pamplona


With thanks to Doña Yolanda Barcina, President of the Government of Navarre, for her assistance.

Govenment of Navarra

And to His Excellency, Federico Trillo-Figueroa Martínez-Conde, Ambassador from the Kingdom of Spain to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and El Señor Fidel López Álvarez, Minister-Counsellor for Cultural Affairs.

Government of Spain

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Editor & Co-Author of Bull-Running Guide in ¡Hola! magazine


Alexander Fiske-Harrison, who put together Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona – with a foreword from the Mayor of Pamplona, and contributions by John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest, Beatrice Welles, daughter of Orson, as well as bull-runners like Joe Distler and Julen Madina and photography by EPA veteran Jim Hollander – opens this week’s edition of ¡Hola! magazine, the Spanish parent of Hello! Read the English version of his interview on his personal blog here.

The Editor

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment