Our plan on Saturday was to head to the Peak District for an overnight camping trip with Sean’s brother and sisters. This was something that we were all really looking forward to but we ended up having to cancel do to the evening’s forecast. My time in England has been filled with unusually beautiful weather but with rain coming we didn’t want to risk a wet night in the country side. Of course with that being said the weather in Nottingham ended up being great!
Sean had some friends that would be meeting up in the city center to train parkour so we headed in to meet them. The first place we went had three areas for training, all of which seemed almost too perfect for parkour. I’ve never formally trained nor have I looked at a city in the same way these guys do, but after a glimpse into the life of a free runner I’m suddenly seeing things with a new perspective. Cities, often referred to as concrete jungles, couldn’t be more fitting for those looking to explore the less traveled path in the style of parkour.
It’s easy to get hurt while bounding across ledges, and jumping gaps and that’s why so much practice and training has to be done. What may look like carefree maneuvers is quite actually precision jumps that take loads and loads of practice and strength building.
The runners that I met up with were Matt, Will, Edgar, James Parish, James Holbrook, and James Allen. Each of these guys had their own style and each was infinitely better than I was. We spent a few hours at each location and I spent the majority of my time amazed at what these guys were doing. There were 3 things I saw on Saturday that I was extra impressed with.
The first of which was Matt’s ability to flip. These guys could all flip, but Matt could flip up walls. Meaning if there was a wall 1-3 feet high, he would be able to hit the wall in stride, flip, and then land on top of the wall. If you’re reading this and trying to figure out how that’s possible then we are on the same level. I was right there watching it happen and can’t even provide an explanation!
The next ridiculous feat I observed was by Will. I suppose it goes without saying, but these guys are not scared of heights. If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s a picture of Will walking along the rooftop edge of a parking garage 12 floors up. Don’t worry folks, you will NOT find me doing anything like that.
The third most incredible thing I witnessed today with my own two eyes was James Parish jumping gap that no human should be able to do with as much ease as he did. I ran track and field back in High School and I’d like to think I was pretty good, especially when it came to the long jump. But I suppose that’s all relative when I’m running down a runway, wearing track shoes, jumping into a sand box and James is a stand still jumping over 10 feet where he’d be landing on a wall about a foot wide. Little room for error when coming up short means breaking something vital and not sticking your landing results in a fall where you’ll just have to rely on instincts to save you from injury. This was all impressive, a bit crazy, and so very awesome.
After training for a bit and defying the laws of gravity we moved about through city to various locations these guys use for training. We through the Frisbee around a bit, explored some forbidden locations, and enjoyed the day expecting it to start raining at any moment. The rain never came… at least not in Nottingham. Apparently it was pretty brutal throughout the rest of England and we’re quite sure that had we gone camping it would have been a soggy experience.
I should mention that while training today Sean was teaching me a move called a kong. Basically, you run at a ledge about waist height and jump over it using your arms to help vault you through. Your legs travel through your arms and you land on the opposing ledge on your feet. This is something they have all mastered and continue to add elements of difficulty to it in order to step up their running. Unfortunately while Sean was showing me how to do this he landed abruptly on the wall he was aiming for, stuck his landing, before coming down quite gingerly. Turns out when he had landed a jolt went through his back and he’d have to take the rest of the day at a much slower pace. He’s a champ though and made it through the rest of the day as if nothing was bothering him. Certainly a better pain tolerance than most!
When we got back to Sean’s we opted to cook up the food that we had acquired for our camping trip. That night we feasted on ham, pasta, and the remaining cheese and crackers we had from the previous night. We also watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I hadn’t seen this movie since back when it came out and I forgot this was about the time they switched directors. There were loads of changes in this movie but all things moving in the right direction.