Mid-twenties, overworked and underpaid at a job I loved and loathed at the same time (loved only because it was in travel), post-breakup from a ridiculous relationship and in dire need of a summer jaunt. Me circa 2002, as I sat at my desk literally spinning a globe and throwing fun-tak at it to see what stuck. OK, so that didn’t work well, but far-too-low Iberia fare dropped in my inbox and off I went, decision made. I would run with the bulls. Solo.

I’d always wanted to do this, and it seemed like the perfect time to run. Run with the bulls, run from what was bugging me, run towards an adventure and off I went. Good old San Fermin, where would we be without him- a man who’s thought to have met his tragic end by being overrun by bulls in Pamplona, thus opening the door somehow hundreds of years later for thousands of fanatical, fervent revelers ready to take on the challenge head on. And so it goes, I arrived just in time for the beginning in early July, which starts with a bank, literally- with a spectacular rocket display known as the chupinazo. Then, the madness sets in, and for me it was sheer bliss.

8 AM the following day, dressed in the obligatory crisp white pants, white shirt and red scarf proudly tied around my neck...there I stood looking around at hundreds of strangers, and BAM! Crash/firecracker/yelling/screaming/laughing/chanting/handwaving all in that order followed by a huge tidal wave-strength shove as the masses pushed forward taking me with them. Why? Because there were GIGANTIC BULLS TRAILING BEHIND. It seems funny when you think about it (usually from thousands of miles away) but when you’re there and you see these things, you can either freeze or do your best Usain Bolt impression and get the heck out of dodge, literally. I recommend following the locals that chant to San Fermin for help and then run like nobody’s business. This is no joke, these things are real and can (and do) gore people or stomp over them. OK, so I didn’t run miles and miles each day, I’ll admit I only ran THAT day, but still it was incredible.

Your reward after such a daring feat? Getting soaked by thousands of tomatoes being pelted from all directions by fellow revelers which feels surprisingly amazing. Gone are your worries about the white clothes, wet socks, seeds stuck in your hair. Actually, gone are your worries about anything at all- while you hurl fruit at strangers that somehow become friends as you realize you’re a part of a most spectacular celebration of happiness and life. This is truly not having a care in the world, and it’s brilliant. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for someone who needs a bit of a shake up and game-changer. I’d do it again, and I will.