This time last year I had just returned from an incredible experience inter-railing around Europe for five weeks with my twin brother, Tom.
By far the best experience of that trip was San Fermin in Pamplona, a usually small and tranquil town in northern Spain.
The festival is perhaps most famous for the running of the bulls and after deciding just two days before to head north west from
Barcelona to Pamplona on our trip we had already somewhat naively decided to do the run.
With no place to stay and a sleepless night in the local park our only proposed option we got lucky, very lucky.
On a rare call home a family member said they had a friend in Pamplona and through the wonders of Facebook we were able to make contact and result! we had a place to stay.
With a maximum of 26 hours to experience the fiesta before we had to catch a train to Bordeaux and fly home we got stuck in straight away changing into the full San Fermin gear: plain white clothing, red scarf and a red neckerchief.
Throughout our trip we met mostly Australians and Americans who were of course boasting that they were planning to run with the bulls.
But the mood changed when we got to Pamplona and spoke to the locals. With the red wine flowing we were optimistic of our chances of running but were becoming increasingly worried by how many of the locals were telling us not to do it!
So at 2am after a great night partying it was time to head back to our adopted house for the night. Hitting the hay about half an hour later we were both concerned whether we would be in a fit state to run but left it to 'we'll see how we feel in the morning.'
The alarm went off at 6.30am and up we got nervously re-applying our wine soaked kit and headed off in the hope of finding the start.
Unsurprisingly not feeling our sharpest and already running late we made our way through the spectators and onto the 'track'. We decided to head towards the end and nearer the bull ring as we didn't fancy our chances to outrun the bulls for the full 800m.
We past the reassuringly named 'deadman's corner' on our way to our desired stop half-way up Estafa Street, noticing the boarded up bars we had been in just hours ago. While realising we weren't in the best shape we thought as 19-year-old young men our condition wasn't too bad. However seeing the experienced locals stretching and warming up was somewhat unnerving.
Something else that caught our eye was them holding rolled up newspapers that we soon found out were used as a barrier between themselves and the bulls. So... we were slightly hungover, untrained and unprepared - time to get the game face on.
Without sounding selfish the run is something you have to do only thinking of yourself - running alongside and keeping an eye out for Tom was not an option.
When the cracker goes off your initially instinct, like many others, is to start running but that would be jumping the gun so to speak. I realised from the disapproving elite runners that this was wrong and as an over eager amateur I had to wait for the raging bulls to get closer!
After settling myself down I was off again, another false start!
So what gave me my second false start? The sound of the bulls smashing into the side of round deadman's corner. I slowed gently before thinking perhaps a false start wasn't such a bad idea and got back into my stride. I kept looking over my shoulder as well as making sure no one got in my way or tripped me up and was pretty disappointed that I couldn't see any bulls... but then I heard the bells.
I looked to my right and there they were, six raging stampeding bulls with piercing horns within two metres of me and I'm not ashamed to say that I bottled it - diving to my left behind the temporary fencing. As I regathered myself I noticed that I was yards from the entrance at gate 15. After double checking over my right shoulder I made my way into the bull ring.
One last sprint to plunge over the side of the arena in a mad dash as a few stray bulls came through ended the run for me with a mixture of feeling relieved, excited and still a fair amount of fear.
What about Tom! As I watched the young bulls come out into the ring to play with the remainder of people I opted to sit it out. As time went by and I witnessed someone being spun in the air before knocking himself out on his landed and with no way of contact I began to worry about the whereabouts of my younger brother - by all of eight minutes.
But fortunately he had spotted me from the other side of the arena and came beaming over shouting “We've done it!”
Morally right or wrong?
The bull running is a controversial topic throughout the World and for me the decision to run was all about the thrill and adrenaline. I have always wondered what it would feel like to run fearing for your life and as these bulls can easily kill and have proved so in recent years this was my opportunity. So yes my reasoning was morally wrong but it is something that as a 'crazy tourist' I won't be doing again but will be returning for the fiesta!!