The key service that the Posse provides is accommodations in Pamplona. Here is my experience on accommodations and a few other aspects of their service.
The two key factors to consider with accommodations are location and condition.
The location of our apartment was one block off the main ave where the Bull Run took place. Once we walked outside our apartment we were on the street right in the middle of the party! This is great if you want to participate in the 24/7 party but bad if you plan on sleeping at any time. Others in our group were farther away which was much quieter but entailed a walk to the activities. There are a number of hotels within a 1 mile radius of the main festivities. Read the next section on the condition of the accommodations and think about whether a hotel would be better even if it costs a bit more.
Regardless of the location the Posse uses apartments that are owned by locals to accommodate guests during this week. There will be clothes in the closet, dishes in the dishwasher, and personal items in the bathroom. It’s someone’s home and they just go away for a week. The number of people that are crammed into these apartments boarders on slum accommodations. In our apartment there were 10 people in a small apartment (1000 sq feet maybe) and ONE BATHROOM. The room we were assigned was VERY small. It contained one small bed (my friend who is six feet tall touched both the head and foot board) and small foam mattress thrown on the floor for me. The sheets had not been changed from the last crew so it was intimate to say the least. The shower did not work so a sponge or sink bath was the only way to get clean (when you could get into the bathroom). No towels or toiletries were provided but we did bring our own so this was not a problem. We were only there three days but with the many people in that small space the place got very smelly and dirty fast. There were mattresses on the floor everywhere so sitting or walking the living room was impossible. (Think high school slumber party) Our fellow tenants were college age students so as you can image it was noisy all times of the day and night. Nobody disturbed our items but they were not exactly secure in the room. Our friends were in a similar situation with 15 people in one small apartment with one bathroom. I would rate the condition over all of slightly worse than a bad hostel.
One of the big selling points is that the leaders of the Posse will walk you through the course and show you how to run. I agree that we did meet with this goal in mind. What really occurs is more of a bragging session about how many times they have run or what recent radio interview they have given. The information provided is not completely accurate, incomplete and not all that useful. You can find better youtube videos with better information. Most runners’ get no information and they somehow survive which the Posse will lead you to believe is impossible. In fact of you listen to then you would believe someone dies all the time on the course.
The posse will bombard you with emails telling you must buy these ahead of time or the vendors will harass you during your stay. NOT TRUE. My friend didn’t buy the pack and he was NOT approached once during our time there. What is true is that there are at least a hundred shops where you can get the tshirt/pants/scarf/sash for less money, with more choices that what you get from the Posse. Keep in mind that virtually everyone in the entire town is wearing the garb during the festival so it is likely you will join in. My advice is to wait until you get there and check out the stores on your first day and get something local.
The posse will fill your email with “newsletters” months before you arrive. Unfortunately they contain very little information and alot vulgar rants about loose women and monkeys. They don’t tell you how to get to and from the festival. They don’t tell you about the ceremonies. They don’t even tell you about their own closing party (more to come). No information about what to do before or after the run. No information on the nightly fireworks. No information on simple things like if you try and take pictures immediately before/during the run the police will ban you from the run. No information about eating, Wi-Fi or virtually anything useful. But you will get a story a day and lots of nonsense about monkeys and drinking.
Most tourists that travel to Pamplona for the run also attend a Bull Fight. I won’t comment on the ethics of doing so I simply will provide feedback on the tickets the Posse provided. They will tell you that “shade” seats are best. Keep in mind that the bull fight is at 6:15 PM and lasts about 2 hours. “Shade” seats are better known as “nose bleed seats”. The “shade” seats the Posse got us had a reasonable view despite being very high up. We paid about $125 per ticket only to discover the face value was $19. I know you are thinking that perhaps the tickets are hard to get… On the way into the ring we were offered numerous tickets for good seats for about $50 each.
If the Posse tells you once, they will tell you a million times that the area is terrible for pickpockets. Based on what I saw, this is bunk. True you will need to carry a bit of cash for meals and drinks during your visit but unless you plan on passing out on the street with you cash sticking out of your pockets (some people actually were) then you don’t have anything to worry about. Act like you are in any other foreign large city and you will be fine.
The Posse staff were nice enough even though a little disorganized. The three main guys are from England, Scotland and the US. They have a groupie of girls that get free accommodation and drinks to handle most of the actual work. They are nice guys, entertaining, lively and friendly. Despite being great folks you will get the distinct impression that your dollars and the Posse is not so much a business as it is a way to fund their week long party in Pamplona.
The posse did provide a couple great town maps we used until we got used to the town.
Quite by accident we discovered that the Posse has a closing party for guests. (We talked to one of their volunteer employees about what we could do before the actually closing ceremony) and she said well you could come to our party. Don’t bother to go… The leaders of the Posse didn’t even know who we were but they included us nevertheless once we told them we were their customers. They served a number of mystery drinks, flashed the surrounding people with their bare backsides and burned their chest hair for entertainment. Perhaps if you have had enough to drink you will find this entertaining but likely not.
There are lots of facts about the entire Pamplona trip I have not included in here and you are welcome to contact me for more details. Overall I recommend the trip, the festival and the run highly but I do not recommend that you use the Posse to organize it unless you are under 25 years old, plan to drink so much the rest of the rip won’t matter and you have money to burn