Over the weekend Luke Garry Ryan and I attended our first parkour competition. The comp was skill based hosted in Manchester by Project Z and Free Spirit Parkour. First of all, I want to commend both parties for organising such a sick event. It was extra sweet for me as it was my first bit of proper training back from injury and this was a great way to get back into the mentality of overcoming challenges and just to be moving again felt great.
Im going to go over how our experience was as a team and what went down. Im going to talk about what I liked and what could be seen as areas of improvement.
What went down
We started our day at 7:00 to plough through a crusty three-hour commute to Manchester from Milton Keynes. Everyone was very excited as none of us had any idea what to expect. The challenges were released at 11:00 so no one had an advantage of seeing the challenges before anyone else. Personally, I was fairly chilled about it all because I had no intention of training at all and was more expecting to be a hypeman/Cameraman. We parked up and arrived a few minutes late so we had some catching up to do. To submit the clips, we all had to post them on our Instagram stories and tag both Project Z and Free Spirit. If they like the clip in the chat, the point gets added.
We were all given a link to google maps which showed all the spots and challenges. There were fifteen; Beginner, intermediate, advanced and NBDs (Never Been Done). Once we got the challenge map, we got straight to work. We started with a cat crawl along a rail which was something we could all do but it was a bit nasty because I don't think any of us had done this kind of movement for a long time. Nevertheless, we all got it done and headed to the next challenge. The next few challenges were all clumped together which was nice because we had caught up with some of the others who had the same idea. There was a lovely arm jump 180 which I tapped out of because of the impact but all the boys smashed it and got it done.
Next was a dive kong on a pretty low wall which made it a bit grim. Dive kongs are a move I could do that doesn't use my right foot that much at all so I gave it a send and it felt all good. That moment was probably the turning point for me in terms of how I was going to do training-wise. I already had two points under my belt and the ankle was feeling up for more. So that's exactly what I did.
After this point, however, we faced our first barrier. Pretty much all of the Challenges were at least a 10-minute walk away from each other (probably an overstatement but that's what it felt like) After a brief discussion on where we were going to head next, and a little standing pre, we made our way to the next intermediate challenge. This was where we encountered our second barrier: Security.
The next spot was an ascent halfway up a building. It looked easy enough but was very bait (obvious) and it sounded like the others had beaten us to it. We were scoping it out for about ten seconds at which point two security guards (who were lovely) told us we had to leave which we respected and did so. I don't think many of us were really looking forward to the challenge but it was well within all our abilities. Be that as it may, we swiftly found the next challenge… a lache pre. It was pretty small and low impact so we got that done and headed towards the canals for some ‘water challenges’. One was a nice bridge climb and the next was a jump over the canal to a descent.
After a couple more challenges, we were feeling pretty confident and warmed up and looked at our first NBD. This was a cat pass splat with a pretty respectable drop from the splat. It was gnarly as hell. Garry Luke and I all knew straight away it wasn’t going to happen but this was right up Ryans street… Cat pass and phat drop. A few preps and it was looking pretty good but the main concern was how small the gap was between the wall you were splatting on and the wall you were cat passing from. Too much push back and you're going straight to the shadow realm. However, as it turns out when we looked back at it at the end of the day, The challenge was actually to splat, then 180 cat pass back. Ryan decided it wasn’t worth the potential injury so early on in the day and so left it which I think was very wise. (Unlike Ryan)
After being truly humbled by the NBD, we returned back to the beginner challenges. We found ourselves in an undercover spot by the station where there were 4 challenges. A tic tac, dive kong underbar and a big cat pass pre. All were increasingly difficult. We all did the tic tac, and Garry Luke and I did the dive kong. And after that, we were in advanced/ NBD territory so we left the other two. It was at this point we ran into our third barrier… technology. We had an issue with seeing the challenges on our phones. The pictures were cropped and none of our phones decided they wanted to cooperate and enlarge the picture. This meant we didn't know exactly where to do the dive kong from which ended up meaning the points didn't count. This barrier was a recurring theme throughout the day.
And shortly after barrier number three came barrier number 4… Rain. In true northern fashion, rain was bound to be on the cards but we had no time to dilly-dally as it was almost 2:30 PM. We had about 10/11 challenges each at that point and there were plenty more to do in only 3 ish hours. We arrived at the next proper challenge which was a descent on metal bars. As it was raining this made everything so much worse and the descent had to be done with extra caution. But it was done by everyone despite the slippery bars. I think this was turning point number two for me. We had done about 20,000 steps and only 12/13 points to show for it. On top, the rain was getting worse and we were running out of time. It became less about the challenges and more about the points. Not to say the challenges weren’t what we were focused on. It was just very tedious that we had to stop for 5-10 mins just to do a vault because it all had to get filmed, transferred and posted.
After that came the crux of the entire day. A spider climb about 30 meters long over an alley of broken glass and human excrement. OH, MY DAYS! This was later seen as a mistake on Project Z and Free Spirits' behalf because this was classed as an ‘Easy’ challenge. Ryan and Garry both one-banged it took a lot of effort. I was next and I got about ¾ of the way and I had to give up. Everything was pain. Luke did the same. I said I’d give it one more because I can't handle the agony of doing it a third time. Luke did the same and we both failed again. I was ready to leave it but Luke wanted one more so I thought I’ll try again. And third time truly was a charm as we both got through it. This felt amazing and awful at the same time. It’s times like that when you’re bouncing off other mates and in the competition setting, that you are really working together and pushing each other to do things you thought you couldn’t. Without Luke wanting another go I would have left it and without me doing it, Luke wouldn’t have been able to push through and do it. It was from here that we realised we were well behind and we had no time to faff around with these challenges like we did for the spider climb. The mentality shifted to, ‘Let's look at it, if we can do it we do it. If we’re not sure, the next challenge’
I want to take this moment to say how fluid the comp became after this because of the team's willingness to help each other out. Without telling anyone to do anything there always seemed to be someone on a GoPro, on a phone camera, holding someone else's bags or looking for the next challenge. We were all leaning on each other for support and became a well-oiled machine.
We got kicked off a couple of challenges after this but next found a mental stride challenge. The strides were a small distance apart but an awful drop was to the right. This was probably the only mental challenge of the day because of the drop. Not far from that, was a lache pre.
Two pretty light challenges, under our belt but then came a fairly scary running pre that looked super heavy. At first sight, I knew my ankle was nowhere near taking that level of impact yet so I was back on hypeman duty. Garry sent it first and it was lovely. He had gathered enough information to let the boys know it was easy distance-wise and ‘put less in than you expect’. Shortly after, the others smashed it and all went swimmingly.
After that the sun went away again and the rain really started pouring and this is where time management came into play. One challenge was a turn vault over a rail, drop down and safety roll. However, none of our phones showed the roll so after heading 10/15 mins so the next challenge, we got a message to say none of it counted because there was no roll. We ran back in the pouring rain, did the roll in the puddles then tried to get back on track. Because the dive kong over the rail at the undercover spot didn’t count we decided that was a good place to head to last as it was undercover and we could still get a point. We rolled up at 17:55 and had to get it filmed and posted within 5 minutes. I thought I managed it. But due to a loose connection, I was about a minute off which was painful to see considering the running we did to get there on time. But as they say, ‘the game is the game.’
First off I want to say how great of an event it was. The challenges were well thought out, the judging was consistent and the overall vibe was great. Apparently, not a lot of people train in Manchester so hosting the comp brought loads of people down to tear it up.
Barrier 1 Distance
Manchester was much bigger than we had anticipated and walking from spot to spot was not the most efficient way to compete. If we were to do it again, a bike or scooter or some sort of transport would deffo be useful.
Barrier 2 Security
This one sparked a bit of a debate post-comp. Some people who got to spots earlier in the day managed to get points that weren’t possible for anybody else due to security complications. The question was ‘Should we erase the point and challenge if security locks it off’. Personally, I think that makes a hell of a lot of sense just to keep things fair between the competitors. It just limits anyone's chances of closing a gap if you were in it for the win.
Barrier 3 Technology
This was probably the biggest one for us. The challenges were only semi-accessible for us to see so the first two lines of text were fine but anything after that was guesswork. It probably cost us several points in the whole thing. Also, my map just gave up halfway through. It wouldn't let me see the challenges at all after a certain point. Luckily I had the boys with me to help me out but if I was on my own I would have been a bit lost. There was also a live scoreboard which was constantly updated throughout the day. We checked it a few times and we were a bit confused sometimes because it said I had done more challenges than the others when they were clearly ahead of me. All in all, technology wasn’t completely foolproof and we would know because we are all fools. Something I noticed about the Liverpool takeover was the website concept. I’m sure there were some techy mishaps with that too but having it on a website to bee just seems less hassle.
Barrier 4 Rain
This was inevitable but also avoidable. If we had checked the weather and seen it was going to rain, we could have planned our route a bit better where we can do some undercover challenges as the heavens open. However, we were all completely new to the city and had no clue what was where in terms of undercover spots so it ended up being a bit impromptu with our route choice.
Despite all of the things that went wrong for us, a lot went right too it seems. We ended up getting 9th (Luke) 10th (Ryan) 11th (Garry) and 12th (CJ) which was a fairly decent ranking considering all the mishaps along the way.
The whole event was honestly so much fun and it is a great way to expand and strengthen the UK community. It felt like such a different way of training for me. I’m normally the person who rocks up at a spot and couldn’t care less about what others were doing and try and find my own challenge/ line but it forced me to try something new. It meant you didn’t have to think of anything, you had the challenges set for you. ‘Don’t think, just jump’ was the mantra for the street comp and opened my eyes to different kinds of movement I had no idea I was capable of.
Another thing I’d like to mention… I don’t know if it's just me, but I wasn’t too taken aback by the spots. When turning up to Manchester I was excited to see what the city had to offer but if I'm totally honest I was kinda underwhelmed. I suppose we did only spend about 5 minutes at the spots but I honestly think id get bored of it after about an hour or so. There wasn’t really a spot where I thought I could spend a good half-day training here and not get bored. It could also be to do with the difficulty of finding a variety of challenges so some spots were just non-spots. Don’t get me wrong I’d deffo like to go back at some point. It’s a good place to train but not the best.
This makes it even more impressive that, Project Z and Free Spirit were able to put on such a banging event! Shout out to you guys and should be out to those that took part. Even just showing up and supporting strengthens the community and everyone should be proud of how that day went. And a special shoutout to the Women competitors who killed it.
I would recommend taking a look at our ‘Machester takeover’ YouTube vid Linked here
Should we do one in Bedford? Who’s interested? Let us know!
500 likes on the vid and we’ll do it?
As you were