Monday, August 3, 2009

Free Runners Invade London

Book your flight to London now. The 2009 Barclaycard World Freerun Championship is scheduled for August 15. Trafalgar Square is where you can tell your cabbie to take you. Joining you will be 25 of the world's best freerunners, 7500 spectators, and people from more than 15 nations who want to see urban movement artists 360 wallrun, reverse vault, and front flip their way through an urban obstacle course using only their bodies and momentum.

Free running is the more self-indulgent and acrobatic version of “parkour.”

Parkour was founded by David Belle. More similar to a martial art than to a sport, Belle crafted evasion and chase into a physical artform where urban or rural obstacles are overcome as efficiently, smoothly, and quickly as possible using only the human body. Belle has stated that the philosophy of parkour is to “surpass any obstacle, physical or mental.”

Born in Fecamp, France, Belle drew from his military, gymnastic, climbing, and martial arts experience to create the physical artform. As parkour gained notoriety, marketers sought to tap the American market and called the artform “free running.”

Free running diverged from Belle's parkour philosophy and began to include acrobatics, tricking, and street stunts in pursuit of a more aesthetically pleasing and athletic movement. Sebastien Foucan, featured in the film “Jump London,” defines free running as “a discipline to self-development, following your own way.”

The term “free running” was coined by Guillaume Pelletier. Foucan states that the goals of free running are “using the environment to develop yourself, to always keep moving, and not go backward.”

Four judges will judge competitors in London in four categories. Categories include technical difficulty, execution, creativity, and fluidity.

According to, technical difficulty evaluation covers the complexity of techniques. Execution is “based on how cleanly the athletes perform overall.” This covers the “mechanics of the moves, posture, foot placement, and how cleanly the athletes land.” Creativity is judged on “how well the athletes use their environment to create movement. We encourage the full use of the course but leave it to the athletes to determine how they choose to do so.” Fluidity judges how well an athlete “transitions between moves. The execution of the techniques are very important, but linking the moves together is vital in order to maintain flow.”

Two heats are scheduled. Each competitor will compete in individual runs of 60 seconds. The top 10 scoring runners will advance to the next heat. The best 3 scores in the second heat will “make it to the podium.” There will also be a “Trick of the Event” award which is chosen from the totality of the runs and can be won by anyone.

Gabriel “Jaywalker” Nunez, an American, will be defending his title.

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