Reaching Out 2 The World

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London’s Finest

The start of a long week of traveling Sean and I woke up by 9 and packed ourselves ready to go. Today we’d be headed to London to meet up with some more free runners! Since today was also to be my last day in Nottingham that meant that I’d need to take everything with me. Luckily, Sean’s mum drove us to the train station that morning to save us from having to walk and take the bus. But what I was most happy about was that Koren had already taken my super huge Blue Bag that was filled with all the donations so I wouldn’t have to lug that throughout the city. IMG_2908

Our plan was to meet up in London, spend the afternoon training, before heading to Red Hill to stay the night at Koren’s. When we first got into to London our first task was to find where these guys were training. To give you a visual, I was carrying around two medium sized bags and one small one, and Sean had two bags with him as well. At this point, due to the back injury Sean was still recovering from, our pace was relatively slow and labored. IMG_2910

We finally made it to their first training location and there were 5 or 6 guys training. The place again looked as if it had been created for the purpose of free running but the guys insisted it was just a good find. Since Sean wasn’t able to do much training he spent the afternoon coaching me. I’m still no where’s near at the level of everyone else but I was able to do a few jumps that I never would have thought plausible. IMG_2915

The second place we went to train ended up being like a mecca for free runners. I think it was the combination of it being a bank holiday, and beautifully sunny, but we were joined by so many runners. These guys would come up with something they wanted to do, a challenge, and they’d spend as much time as they needed perfecting it. Everywhere you looked there were people jumping, flipping, and running. There was also a large span of ages that were there. There were kids ranging from late twenties to young teens. Sean was saying that every year the kids seem to get younger and better, performing stunts harder and more difficult than ever before. This was definitely apparent as I watched kids half my age flipping and jumping without a care in the world. IMG_2921

Around 4 in the afternoon Sean, Tim, David, and I traveled across town to a pub known as, The Worlds End. This place was really cool and had a loft above the bar where we stationed ourselves for the better part of the afternoon. Since I had all my stuff with me still, and they each happened to have bags too it looked as if we were all backpackers. This also meant that we had loads of things to entertain us. First we played cards while having a few drinks but once we realized we all knew how to play Catan we knew exactly how we’d be spending our afternoon. Playing a board game in a loft of a pub turned out to be a pretty great location and atmosphere. As I’m sure you can imagine we were able to make the board game a bit more interesting with a few appropriately adapted rules. Tim was our grand winner but we were all a bit happy to finished I think because it meant moving on to our next location for some much needed dinner. IMG_2927

We grabbed our bags and took a train to Camden. Camden is a section of London that is known for its markets and cheap food. We ate a place called Bang Bang chicken. It was equivalent to Chinese food you’d find at a food court. This of course means it was exactly what we were looking for!

Our next stop of the night was to Islington where the guys knew fellow runner and friend that was going to be playing guitar at a bar. Although this ended up being a bit of a hike to get to it ended up being totally worth it. Max was the guy that would be entertaining us with his guitar skills and he was really great. More impressive was that fact that he was born without a forearm on his left/strumming arm. If you were just listening you’d never know. This guy was truly talented and an absolute inspiration! IMG_2929

We spent the rest of the night hanging out at this pub before making the journey to Red Hill where Koren’s family resides. The trip wasn’t the easiest but we did finally make it. At this point we had carried those bags throughout this entire journey and we were in desperate need of sleep. It had been a very long Monday and on Tuesday we’d be making the long drive to Cambridge!



Parkour Through Nottingham

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.IMG_2853

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!

TIMG_2883he 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. IMG_2881

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. IMG_2882

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.

Exhausted from running throughout Nottingham we called it an early night with high hopes of getting a lot done on Sunday as it would be my last day in Nottingham. IMG_2880IMG_2884