RENTON, Wash. —
With the help of his agent, Peter Schaeffer, Okung made the trip in early July to the northern part of Spain. While the picture of a runner getting gored was the impetus for going to Pamplona, Okung made sure not to watch video of the event prior to getting there.
“I didn’t want to talk myself out of it. I just went out there and did it,” he said.
Okung was probably correct in not researching too much into the famous festival. The festival dates back to the late 16th century and also is known for its all-night street parties. The runs, eight in all, are the highlight of a nine-day street festival to honor Pamplona’s patron saint, San Fermin. Each morning, six fighting bulls and six bell-tinkling steers that try to keep the beasts together head from stables to the bullring where matadors star in late afternoon bullfights.
Dozens of people are injured each year, with gorings often producing the most dramatic injuries. The last fatal goring happened in 2009. On the final day of this year’s festival, 23 runners were injured.
“All I know is you have a plan and it goes straight out the window,” Okung said.
And his bosses weren’t very happy with his decision.
“It didn’t go too well. It didn’t go too well,” he said. “But the thing they knew about me is they knew I would be safe and as much as I could do the right thing.”