Running of the Balls

Study Spanish in Spain and enjoy the “Running of the Balls”

 Spanish Town Changes the “Running of the Bulls” to a More Modern “Running of the Balls”.

  • By Esther Campos (translation by Lawrence Morello)

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You may know that in Spain there are a number of summer festivals called “Bull Runs”, with the most famous Bull Run occurring in a town called Pamplona.

In Guadarrama National Park in Madrid they are doing things a little bit differently…

There are 3 small towns “El Boalo”, “Cerceda” &  “Mataelpino” which are about 3 miles apart from each other. Each one has its own summer festival between the months of July and September, and each festival has its own particular customs.

Four years ago, Mataelpino changed its traditional “Running of the Bulls” to a more modern “Running of the Balls”, a similar event but featuring 2 giant 125 kilogram Styrofoam balls instead of actual bulls. Mataelpino is the first town in the country to hold a “running of the balls”!

Boloencierro (ball run) is a made-up term which combines the Spanish words for bowling ball and the term used for the running of the bulls. The event sees participants being chased down the sloping streets of Mataelpino by huge Styrofoam balls rolling at great speeds.

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The village’s financial woes have been eased by the switch, as authorities are in talks with various companies interested in sponsoring the run in exchange for putting their logo on the balls.

Although Pamplona’s San Fermin bull runs are the most famous internationally, there are many towns and villages in Spain, Portugal and some parts of South America that have their own “encierros” (bull run). Some have no official age limit and injuries and casualties are not uncommon.

Boloencierro (ball runs) are fun for all the family and a great alternative for the growing number of people who oppose bullfighting and bull runs.

Mataelpino has an ongoing dispute between those who want to have bull runs and bullfights and those who want the traditions to disappear for good. There is a growing opposition within Spain to sporting events and festivals involving bulls.

Visit a local school partner’s website ( where you can Study Spanish in Madrid and enjoy the running of the balls summer festival. Enjoy the Spanish school’s activities, festival and customs while you study Spanish there as well!

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