In a further attempt to remind myself how out of shape I currently am, I volunteered to cover the World Freerunning Championships in Trafalgar Square. Having shot the preview for last year’s event at the Roundhouse, I was reasonably prepared for what to expect but seeing it up close was something else.
A small portion of my brain has convinced itself for no reason that both freerunning and parkour are activities I could do if I put my mind to it so as long as I never actually try it, the illusion can remain. I guess it comes from wanting to be as undeniably cool as these guys!
When you see gimps limping down the street, desperately trying to exude that special something, it looks decidedly crap when compared to what today’s competitors have mastered. The added element that sets it apart is how competitive yet supportive they are to each other. Before each run, the waiting competitors applaud and hug the next one up. During each run, the others follow what the current runner is doing and cheer as they try new things. Knowing how the fear-mongering members of the media like to characterize male teenagers and young adults as a dangerous threat, it’s satisfying to see living proof of their ignorance.
Anyway, enough rambling nonsense. Despite the fact that the stage designers and health & safety bods seemed to have got together beforehand to work out how to make the backgrounds to any photos as messy as possible, it was still possible to get a few clean shots with certain crops and angles. The next problem with this type of event is that the runs appear to be improvised on the spot so there’s no way of knowing what wall they’ll leap off or block they’ll somersault over. Combined, these factors mean you get a reasonable amount of exercise leaping up and down to try and get the right position as they look as though they’re heading towards your pre-scouted sweet-spots.
My favourite line of the day came from the biog of German freerunner Jason Paul who said that his ultimate goal in life is “to live a life you could base a really awesome movie on.” Marvellous.
The day ended on a patriotic note with British entry Tim ‘Livewire’ Shieff crowned as the 2009 champion. American film and music video star Victor ‘Showtime’ Lopez took the silver with Jason Paul of awesome life-story fame continuing his epic by taking bronze. Bravo, chaps.