A highlight of my trip to Spain – exciting bull running competition!

After having been to several bullfights in the past, which I think are cruel, I was much more enthusiastic about being invited to see a “Concurso de Cortes” which is much less cruel for the bull and so much more exciting to watch. The bull is not killed or harmed during a Cortes competition. Even anti bull fighting groups do not oppose them. I spent the entire three hours literally on the edge of my seat and if you read on, you will understand why!

What happens during the “Concurso de Cortes”?

Fifteen young men in their late teens or early twenties take part in the competition (recortadores). They each have a number and are split into 3 groups of 5 recortadores. One group participates at a time. The 5 boys are spread out around the edge of the bull ring and one comes into the ring at a time. The boy will stand in the middle of the ring waiting for the bull to be released into the ring. Note: they have absolutely no safety net whatsoever, they face the bull completely alone. When the bull charges towards him, the boy will start to run like mad and at the last split second curve their waist out of the way so that the bull’s horns just miss him. A judging panel assess the style and talent of each boy, so that after each group has participated the 2 recortadores who performed the most skilfully are chosen from each group. From this group of 6 boys, they then compete again in two groups of 3. The judging panel then pick the best recortador out of each who then compete against each other in the final. Trophies are presented to the winner and runners-up at the end. Watch a clip of the Concurso (YouTube)


The best recortadores are those that face the bull head on and go towards it as it charges towards them. If they stay still and hardly seem to run away from the bull as they charge towards them, this is also classed as a good “corte”.

Does anyone get hurt?

Unfortunately, due to the close proximity to the bull and the lack of assistance from any weapon or third party, the recortadores often get hurt. The worst moment for me was when one boy got caught by the bull’s horns and tossed into the air. (Cogido) The other boys ran on to distract the bull and the boy was carried off. Luckily this time there was no blood but he had to have an operation on his shoulder. Watch a clip of the unlucky one on YouTube Later on, one boy’s T-shirt was ripped by the horns.
This French man even jumped over the bull and then with both feet tied together!

The most important “Concursos de Cortes”:

• Concurso Nacional de Cortes: Medina del Campo (Valladolid)
• Liga Nacional de Corte Puro (Valladolid)
• Campeonato de España de recortadores (Madrid)
• Campeonato de recoartadores de las Fallas (Valencia)

Approximate price: 12 euros

4 reasons to go to a “Concurso de Cortes”:

• 3 hours of non-stop “edge-of-your-seat” entertainment.
• An amazing atmosphere – just imagine a bull ring full of 10,000 passionate Spanish aficionados!
• The bull comes to no harm.
• It is a real insight into a popular Spanish custom – you will not experience anything remotely like it in the UK!

I could not decide if these boys were brave, stupid or just crazy?

If you would like to learn some Spanish to be able to get the most out of going to see cultural events such as these, feel free to contact VLS to enquire about Spanish tuition.

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