One person was gored in the thigh and four people were taken to hospital during the first running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona.

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A fighting bull from the Ranch of Torrestrella charges over a runner during the San Fermin Running Of The Bulls festival in Pamplona, SpainReuters

Thousands of thrill-seekers tested their bravery and speed by dashing with fighting bulls through the streets of the northern Spanish city of Pamplona.

The run sees people racing with the bulls along a narrow 930-yard (850-metre) course from a holding pen to the city bull ring, in a mad dash lasting just two minutes.

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People watching from balconies cheer as runners and bulls head down the Calle EstafetaGetty
Bulls charge over fallen runners near the end of the courseGetty
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A runner armed with a rolled-up newspaper falls in front of a Torrestrella fighting bull at the Estafeta cornerReuters
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A runner sprints in front of the horns of a Torrestrella fighting bullReuters
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An aerial view of Pamplona during the first bull run of the San Fermin FestivalAFP

Dozens of people are injured each year in the "encierros," as the runs are called in Spanish. Most are hurt in falls. Fifteen people have died from gorings since record-keeping began in 1924.

The nine-day fiesta was immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" and attracts thousands of foreign tourists.

The bulls which take part each morning are invariably killed by matadors in evening bull fights, and their meat is served up in Pamplona's restaurants.

In south-eastern Spain today, a man was seriously injured after being gored in the scrotal area during the Bous a la Mar festival in Denia.

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Hundreds of runners sprint ahead of the bulls heading towards the bullring in PamplonaGetty
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Runners and bulls round the Curva de EstafetaGetty
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Bulls and runners slip on the wet cobblestoned streets of PamplonaGetty

Thousands of people crammed into the main square of Pamplona on Sunday for the start of the San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

Wine-soaked revellers wearing traditional white outfits and red scarves gathered for the noon launch of a firework signalling the beginning of the nine-day festival.

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People raise their red scarves and cheer after hearing the midday 'Chupinazo' rocket announcing the start of the San Fermin festival in PamplonaReuters
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Revellers hold up their red handkerchiefs as a rocket is fired to launch the 2014 festivalGetty
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A girl has wine poured into her mouth as the San Fermin festival in Pamplona kicks offReuters
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A woman feels the force of the crowd as thousands of wine-soaked revellers sing and dance during the firing of the 'Chupinazo' rocketGetty

Pamplona is located just south of the Rioja region, and wine has for centuries played an important role in the celebrations commemorating the city's patron saint.

Festival-goers drank from traditional leather wine pouches, or delighted in spraying red wine over each other. Others poured wine from balconies overhead.

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Revellers cheer from their balcony as the 'Chupinazo' rocket is firedGetty
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Revellers shelter from the rain next to fresh graffiti saying "Freedom For The Basque Country" after the opening of the 2014 Festival of the San Fermin Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, SpainGetty
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Fresh political graffiti adorns a wall during the opening of the 2014 San Fermin FestivalGetty
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Anti-bullfighting protesters wearing skull make-up and traditional red scarves hold up signs that read, "You Run. Bulls Die" in various languages during a demonstration in front of Pamplona town hallReuters

Animal rights activists protested ahead of the running of the bulls, warning that 48 bulls are killed at the festival each year.