At eight o'clock on Monday morning, Alexander Fiske-Harrison (@fiskeharrison
) will once again take to the streets of Pamplona to take part in the city's famous encierro
, what we know in English as the running of the bulls. He will be hard to miss: the author of Into the Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight
, which saw him train as a torero
and kill a bull in the ring, runs in an Eton athletics jacket conveniently coloured the traditional red and white of fiesta. To the madness, he adds a touch of class. He told Crikey
why he continues to run.
"When I was bullfighting, which was basically throughout 2010, the appeal of running was non-existent for me," Fiske-Harrison said. "However, as I spend less and less time in the ring, running grows on me. Sometimes I talk too much to the wrong people and they put me off with their competitive or sports-based approach. But after a boozy dinner swapping stories with Joe Distler, the greatest American runner, or chatting to someone like Victor Lombardi, who describes the encierro
in terms of Beethoven, I get seduced by the idea again."
The idea's allure is palpable in Fiske-Harrison's latest effort, Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona
, which he edited and which features articles by Ernest Hemingway's grandson, Orson Welles' daughter and some of the best runners in the world.
"It was originally Bill Hillmann, a Chicago Golden Gloves boxing champion and the best young American bull-runner, who came up with the idea of a book with chapters by John Hemingway and others, and photos by Jim Hollander from EPA, who has been coming to fiesta for fifty-something years," Fiske-Harrison said. "I suggested we add Joe Distler, because no one who speaks English has run as many times, and that we do it as an e-book to begin with. Bill ended up handing the project over to me.
"Then I got the four greatest ever Spanish and Basque runners on board, then a prize-winning Spanish photographer, then Orson Welles' daughter, Beatrice, then the mayor of Pamplona and we had a complete set," he said.