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Vet's Luck Runs Out With Bulls

The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, Al Chesson
CBS/The Early Show
For centuries, daredevils have tested their luck by running with bulls through the narrow streets of Pamplona, Spain, during the annual festival of San Fermin.

After 11 years of such runs, Al Chesson's luck ran out. The 57-year-old was gored near the end of the course two days ago and is recovering at a hospital in Pamplona. But as there have been at least 13 deaths in the race in the past century, Chesson considers himself fortunate.

He tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "I'm actually feeling fine. Can't move very well. But I took three horn wounds to the upper thigh. They're very tightly bandaged both inside and outside; a small one through my elbow; and according to one doctor, he tried to write the mark of Zorro across my forehead."

Still wearing his red scarf and with his sense of humor intact, Chesson went on to describe how the bull attacked him, just steps before the bull ring, where the race ends. The bull ahead of him suddenly stopped and turned around.

"I was in the tunnel," Chesson says. "He took one look and came right at me. It was wrong day, wrong place. People have told me before, you know it when they target you. I felt it the moment he turned."

And Chesson says the bull began playing with him, tossing him around.

"I described it to someone as being like you were the coin with King Kong playing - doing the coin toss or something," he says. "You really don't have much control once he gets you."

It all happened so fast that the former Marine and Vietnam vet says he did not even have time to feel afraid. He says, "I just remembered trying to stay down so that I wouldn't be a bigger target. Often if you stay still, they'll get disengaged by someone else and go away. But he kept lifting me like a forklift with his horns, picking me up and doing it again. Didn't help much."

A marathon runner, Chesson says the bull run "is the greatest rush I can imagine outside of combat. Of course, everybody's a volunteer. And nobody gets hurt usually too much."

But he adds that his wife Carol, who has never been happy about his running in the race, has asked him "not to repeat this particular athletic event again."

"I will always return to Pamplona for the festival," he says. "Really, the hospitality, the compassion of the people here are wonderful. I have got to add the hospital staff, they're professional, their professionalism and compassion, since I don't speak much Spanish, has been remarkable.

But he doesn't expect to be running with the bulls any more. "My wife is going to keep a tight rein on me getting out into the streets any more," he says. "I probably owe that to her after this."