Our very good friend Angus "Gus" Ritchie, of Scotland, went to Carnaval del Toro in Ciudad Rodrigo with some members of the Pamplona Posse last month. During the festival, an American was horribly injured, and that received worldwide attention. Even seasoned bull runners were shocked by his injuries, and we are all keeping close tabs on his hopeful recovery. They've already had to remove his colon.
Gus was also injured badly the same day. Late the night after he was hurt, I received a text saying that he was "gored in the head." That thankfully turned out to be a little inaccurate; it was more like he was hit in the head with the horns. No small event but still better than being "gored in the head." Gus is one of my best friends in the entire world so you can imagine how upsetting that text was to Ari and I, who were watching the Phiadelphia Flyers lose to the Sabres, so you can imagine how upsetting that was too.
Running with the bulls is serious business and you can be badly harmed. Gus is as tough as they come, and one of the great bull runners in the world. Why he was dressed as Santa remains a mystery!
Gus has been kind enough to share pictures and a written narrative of the incident, which goes as follows:
"Well, here I am, home safe and sound. Nine stitches and nine staples have been taken out, with minimal difficulty (but no little pain!!). I'll be back at work soon. What an odd morning. I was not wearing my Thistle top, and decided just to take it easy. The first run, there's a bull careering all over a carpark, and grassy knoll, so i just kept a safe distance, and let the recortadores and capea fun to themselves. [Then there was a] second run, a proper encierro, with three bulls. Again i decided to keep calm. Three steers came up with one bull closely attached, so i ran briefly alongside, and realised we have two more. I see a black one near the centre, trotting and not swinging. [I question myself:] Do I aim for the centre and lead him for a while, or do I keep calm at the side?
I decided to aim for the side, knowing that if he sees me I can either boost into the centre and sprint, or I could "dodge" him, by moving at last second and he'll charge past. However, there were four others mozos around, and I just could not see him. Someone may have attracted him, and for some reason he goes from trotting speed to full on charge. I still could not see him, until he was on me.
He butts me--with considerable force, his two front hooves off the ground. His right horn rips my thin lycra inside tops from my shoulder, leaving me with a sore shoulder and a bruise. He then tosses his head to the right, so his left horn whacks me on the left side of my head, splitting it [open] with the impact. In order to shake me free, as I was suspended from his horn he shakes his head, and eventually I'm lying on the roadside, below the fence.
The fence has a high first step, but also a high curb, and it felt like an eternity until I could crawl under--fully expecting a goring in my back, but knew i had to move from where I was.
The people eventually moved, and I felt the blood flood my face and head, pouring from my head wound. I knew I hadn't been gored, and my only concern was too much blood loss, as there was a huge amount spread all over the pavement, (and my good denims) , on my Santa beard, and my red top. I sat down low, as three spanish runners I know came to help. Alfonso is in the black in the pics. Teo and Jesus were there, and they all said they'd seen it, and i was unlucky. This was very important to me.
The medics came, and Teo and Jesus helped carry me into ambulance, and I asked Jesus to let my friends know. Graeme was there, Will too.
I got a head brace, oxygen, drip while in ambulance, but i spoke consistently throughout. The same in the infirmary, where I gave thumbs up the wee guy from Salamanca (the other runner who suffered a "minor" injury in comparison to the America). I can see the insides of his leg as they stitch it up, but he canny!.
The American is in a separate room, and clearly in a bad way, the medics are all serious and frowning, grave faces, and politely tell me to not ask. My own medical team are amazing, as I have already been in the bullring with one of theirs, Michael Cammarata, and he helps them realise I have a bit of experience, and fully understand the dangers.
They call me William Wallace, ask me to shout " Freedom", and advise me to go and [not drink too much] and not to run again. So I felt envious as hell at every encierro, but this allowed me the opportunity for late night dancing and fun-- There was [still] a Fiesta to enjoy."