Jul 4, 2014

Follow Friday: @fiskeharrison on running with the bulls

British writer Alexander Fiske-Harrison first entered the ring as a wannabe bullfighter, but has found his niche following in Hemingway's footsteps -- quite literally.

Matthew Clayfield

Journalist, critic, screenwriter and playwright

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.

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5 thoughts on “Follow Friday: @fiskeharrison on running with the bulls

  1. klewso

    He’s smarter than a bull – he’s proved it.

  2. AR

    Am I the only person who hopes that the bulls will win and make the cobblestones run with wankers’ blood?

  3. AR

    YAYYY! Go Auroch! “Four people were hospitalised today on the first day of Spain’s San Fermin bull run, a daily race through the narrow, cobbled streets of Pamplona that forms part of the northern city’s week-long festival.
    One runner was gored in the thigh while the other three suffered fractures during the race against five bulls which lasted 2 minutes and 25 seconds, according to the Red Cross.

  4. Matthew Clayfield

    AR, I usually respect you and your opinions, but my god.

  5. AR

    MatC – I’d have some respect they fought an unexhausted bull whose neck muscles hadn’t been severed – by the delicate attentions of the picadors – to stop it raising its head & horns.
    Portugese bullfighting is a bunch of blokes wrestling a full grown, uninjured bull to the ground. That’s tough.

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