Is wet weather linked to higher injuries in Running of the Bulls?

By Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer
July 13, 2018, 2:18:39 PM EDT

Tourists and Basque residents alike crowded the streets of Pamplona, Spain, this past week for the festival of San Fermín. Red waistbands and bandannas were the only pop in color besides, perhaps, some sangria stains on the all-white clothing worn to the festival of the Running of the Bulls.

Each morning for eight days, those who were brave enough ran the 875 meters – a little over half of a mile – from the bullpen to the arena, the small herd of bulls in tow with them.

The weather forecast may also have an effect on the amount of injuries during San Fermín, though probably not as expected.

San Fermín Encierro

Revellers run next to fighting bulls from the Victoriano del Rio ranch accompanied by steers during the 6th day of the running of the bulls at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, July 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said that, due to people generally fearing of slipping in wet weather, there are less people likely to run on days when the cobblestone is still wet from rain. Instead, there are more people who run on dry days and more people who are likely to get injured.

Partway through the run, the asphalt turns to cobblestone. Rain can make these parts all the more slick when running from the bulls and turning sharp corners such as the Estafeta Bend.

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Spanish news organization El País notes that the city puts down anti-skid liquid on parts of the roads that the runners and bulls pass through.

The more people running, the more crowded the narrow streets of Pamplona become. Add six bulls to the equation, and it all adds up to a few moments of streets packed with chaos.

Since the festival takes place in the summer, there have been more dry days than wet ones. Rain could have affected the runnings somewhere between at least nine to 15 days in the past 10 years according to Ogimet, a weather information service.

Data is inconclusive as to whether there is a link between rainfall and injuries. A lack of available records of the people injured as well as the injuries they sustained, or even a count of how many people run each morning prevents any decisive conclusions.

This year in the Running of the Bulls, the more serious injuries happened earlier in the week, though there was one goring on Friday. The initial one was on Saturday, the first day of the Running of the Bulls. Although cases of goring are not all deadly, they have caused the most amount of deaths.

This past week it rained three days out of the seven that the participants have ran. The highest number of runners injured this past week on a day without rainfall was six on Friday, while the highest number of runners hurt on a day with rainfall was four.

El País said that Friday morning's goring is only the second one this year, but people have been injured in plenty of other ways, ranging from head injuries to simple bruises and injuries from being crushed up against a fence.

San Fermín from above

Revellers run next to fighting bulls during the running of the bulls at the San Fermin Festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Friday, July 13, 2018 (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos).

At least 15 people have died in Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls since 1924. All of the recorded victims were men. The most recent death was in 2009. Only one American has died, though several have been injured.

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