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Running of the bulls leaves 5 injured in Pamplona

A LIGHTNING-FAST running of the bulls in Pamplona left five people slightly injured today but no one was gored.

The third day of the San Fermin festival saw pileups of fallen daredevils and other dicey situations, although the run was clean for the most part.

Five runners suffered bumps and bruises but were not seriously hurt, Navarra Hospital spokesman Javier Sesma said.

The six fighting bulls and six accompanying steers covered the 850-meter (half-mile) route through the old quarter of Pamplona in two minutes and 20 seconds, which is very fast by San Fermin standards. The average is between 3 and 3 1/2 minutes.

The festival features a total of eight runs, and the crowd of sprinters is expected to swell for the weekend sprints in this northern town.

At one point a chocolate-colored bull fell and half a dozen runners tripped over it and went down. One man got up, turned back to toward the mass of oncoming traffic and was promptly run over by a black beast weighing around 645 kilograms (1,400 pounds). It was not immediately clear if this runner was among the five injured.

The most dangerous incident of the day came at a sharp right turn where the animals often fall down, or at least slam into a wooden barrier as they try to negotiate the bend. One runner stayed razor-close to a pack of four or five bulls as they took the turn, risking getting crushed between the animals and the wall.

"He got lucky. He got away with it," a veteran runner, Gorka Azpilicueta, told Spanish Television later.

People come from all over the world to test their bravery and enjoy nonstop street parties at this festival made famous by Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Sun Also Rises."

So far this year no one has been gored or seriously trampled.

Fourteen people have died at San Fermin since record-keeping began in 1924. The last fatal goring was in 1995. The victim was Matthew Tassio, a 22-year-old American.

In 2003, Pamplona native Fermin Etxeberri, 63, was trampled in the head by a bull and died after spending months in a coma.


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