Note: PETA sent us this story after reading Billy Anderson's account of the Running of the Bulls in Europe From a Backpack. You can also read about the festival in Spain From a Backpack, which features Rachel Sarah's, "Running for the Boy."
We Ran in Pamplona – but Not With the Bulls.
Some people’s idea of an ultimate adrenaline-pumping holiday is to travel to Pamplona to run with the bulls. We’re hooked on adrenaline like any other young, red-blooded Brits, which is why we travelled to Pamplona to take part in an even more exciting event that takes place the day before the first bull runs start: the “Running of the Nudes”.
Every July, there are news articles describing how some drunken idiot got trampled or gored in the “Running of the Bulls”. Sure, it’s a raw deal to get stamped or skewered on holiday, but the people do have a choice. They decided to put their safety at risk. But the bulls don’t have that choice. The Running of the Nudes is the alternative event held each July to protest the way the bulls are treated before, during and after their run (they are tortured and killed by matadors in the bullring later in the afternoon).
No one has ever asked the bulls how they like being fed laxatives to weaken them, having their sensitive horns shaved (imagine having your fingernails cut down until your skin was exposed) and being prodded into running through a gauntlet of crazy people. But it’s probably safe to say that being butchered at the end of the day is not a bull’s idea of a good time.
The thing is, television stations always show people running, falling, and avoiding the terrified, stampeding bulls, but they never show what happens after the run. If they showed the bulls being stabbed to death in the bullfight arena, the world would know what really happens at the finish line. That’s why PETA started the Running of the Nudes – to draw attention to the bulls’ plight and show that people can still have fun without bringing cruelty into the equation.
On the day of the Running of the Nudes last year, everyone assembled near the street where we would soon march (the “run” is more of a walk). We looked at each other and sort of silently acknowledged that we felt a tiny bit self-conscious. Still, you could feel the buzz in the air. As soon as the first brave person started removing clothes, it was like a dam burst – everyone starting stripping off! Most of us wore only the accessories the event organisers gave us – red scarves around our necks and plastic bull horns on our heads.
When we set off through the streets of Pamplona, locals and tourists came out in droves to watch. It seemed like every person with a mobile-phone camera had it pointed in our direction. Everybody quickly got caught up in the energy. Many onlookers cheered, whistled and catcalled as we passed. It was pretty exhilarating. Some people joined the march when they realised we were protesting against cruelty to animals – and many spontaneously shed their clothes too.
We met people from all around the world, and although we could often only use hand gestures and smiles to communicate, the message was crystal-clear, no matter what the language was: Stop torturing bulls.
The streets that were flooded with sunlight and scantily clad people that morning were later overflowing with revellers looking to party the night away at the bars. We spent the night on the town with some new friends – nothing brings you closer than taking off your clothes together! Since the Running of the Nudes has been generating news all over the world for the past several years, many people we met said they came to Pamplona specifically to see or participate in the event. The “alternative” run is quickly becoming a phenomenon in its own right. Out with the old – in with the nudes!
--Nick Plant, U.K.
Running of the Nudes