Presenting at ShAFF 2007

On Thursday afternoon I received an email from Luke Markey from TT, who was meant to be standing in for Daniel Ilabaca to present the parkour films and do a talk on parkour at ShAFF – the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (Daniel couldn’t make it as he’s currently filming in India), anyway, Luke asked if I could step in for him.

So I spent most of Thursday afternoon sorting things out with Luke over msn, trying to ascertain exactly what I would have to talk about and what the films were and then speaking to Matt Heason (the guy who runs ShAFF). I didn’t have much time to prepare (as it was in two days’ time), but I managed to cobble a mass of notes together on the Saturday and structure them in between each of the films. I wanted to show something local or from Manchester, but on such short notice had problems getting hold of anything at all, never mind on DVD as requested. My good friend Jess kindly lent me her laptop (an iMac, but nevertheless still capable of burning a DVD), so I put my hatred for anything Apple to the side and tried to figure out how to do it. It was real simple and I had a DVD working on my TV ten minutes or so later, the DVD I made had a menu screen with cheesy default music, and two options; one for each of the videos – I used the NP strength training video and NP Lisses trip video.

The order of the films was:

The ‘Urban Freestyler’ video was a few guys who do amazing football tricks around the streets of London, I have no idea why it was in there with the parkour films, but I managed to talk a little about it (bearing in mind the first time I saw it was in the cinema with everyone else lol) and I tied in links to parkour like the level of practise required for both and the fact that this is socially acceptable as everyone knows what football is, but people’s fear of the unknown usually makes them scowl when they see us doing parkour purely because they don’t understand what it is we’re doing.

Things I talked about included the media’s misinterpretation of what parkour is, parkour/freerunning/tricking, Lisses, healthy living, strength training and conditioning, benefits of parkour, and teams (including mentioning TT’s moral values).

There were about 25 people who came to see it, including a handful from the SPK lot. Surprisingly, there were no other teenagers, most of them were 20s, 30s. They asked some quite good questions, the usual ones like “Are there competitions in parkour?” (followed by “You could have competitions to see who can do the most flips”…) and “Can fat people do it?”, but the most intriguing questions was “What do you want for the future of parkour?” which I answered with something about it being more recognised as an activity so that we can train with less hassle and the coaching association succeeding.

I hope they’d all learned something about what parkour really is, and I made an impact on some people’s thoughts on it all. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t get across well enough. I think I made my point quite well, I did my best. Oh and I have £100 in my pocket for doing it, there starts my Lisses trip fund. Woo.

Just to finish, here’s a short film I saw on Thursday night at the exclusive private pre-screening ShAFF event with Wine & Canapés I was invited to. It’s absolutely brilliant, it’s hard to explain without making you want to not bother, so just take my word for it and check it out. Very skillful – Balancing Point:

Apex Challenge

This weekend I’ve been on the Apex Challenge, which is a competition for teams of four (this time in Castleton in the Peak District) where the teams involved have to navigate through a large geographical area racking up points from taking part in various activities at bases set up all round the mapped area. My team, Team Toe, went out to try and win the competition, and got off to a great start…

Friday night was the start of the competition, where we had to all compete in a mini competition in order to decide the starting positions (i.e. the team finishing first would set off first, the second team a minute later and so on) and we finished third, which was a good start. The activity was called The Glow Company Challenge, where (in the dark) we had to throw glow sticks to a member of our team to catch in a fishing net, and they had to catch one of each colours. We finished in under 3 minutes, and came third, so we were given our starting time of 10:02 for Saturday.

Saturday’s event, the main part of the competition, which was to last 7 hours, from 10:02 to 5:02 (points deducted per minute late). We planned our route and completed a variety of bases and made our way to several control points along the way to rack up the points total. At 4:00 (and hour before we finished) we came across a guy who had broken his leg in a gully between the hills. Since our team consisted of two qualified lifeguards, another one in training (all 3 trained by Richard Garrett, a senior member of Woodseats Venture Unit with us), one with an SPA for climbing, and we all have general first aid qualifications, so we sorted him out, got him into some warm clothes and put a survival blanket round him, gave him some chocolate for the sugar and checked his leg out. His ankle was quite bruised, so we carefully removed his shoe and sock, and gave him another sock.

We phoned the Mountain Rescue, as he needed to be taken out of there, and got cut off after reporting the incident, without having told them our position, so we tried to reach them again, and after unsuccessful attempts, a member of our group headed to the closest base to inform an organiser so that he could contact the main Apex people on the walkie talkie and they could ring Mountain Rescue with our grid reference. While he was gone we called 999 to try to get through to M.R. but for some reason they said they couldn’t put us through to them. Anyway, we had been talking with the casualty, he was a first year student called Liam, studying History and English at Sheffield Hallam University, originally from Nottingham. He was in shock, and shaking quite badly, so we ensured he was warm enough and had the sugar inside him. He seemed alright under the circumstances. The M.R. guys came along with their stretchers and sorted him out and took him to hospital.

We must have been waiting with him for over 2 hours, so we were obviously late returning for the competition, and had missed out on a fair amount of points in our final hour of that part of the contest, but they didn’t penalise us for being late, and thanked and congratulated us for stopping to help him out. We found out later that we were 2nd in the leaderboard up to then, so we did very well considering we lost an hour!

Everyone else had had a long rest at the finish site before the Saturday night part of the challenge, but we had to set off straight away when we got back, we did ok in it, but would have done much better after a rest.

Sunday morning’s activity was from 10:00 ’til 1:00-ish, which consisted of a race completing two bases; one canoeing (canadian open boat), which was cool, with 3 keen canoeists in our group (well…kayakers, near enough) and then a walk back to the man base to complete an assault course, and since parkour means that I practise that sort of thing (on different terrain lol) all the time, I was loving it! An assault course made up of ladders, rope and things in between piles of bales of hay. Great!

Anyway, we came 6th in total, out of 36 teams, which was pretty good, all things considered. We were completely knackered on Saturday night and Sunday morning, so we couldn’t really give it our all. Regardless, we had a fantastic weekend, and although we came home prizeless, we enjoyed it and actually dealt with a real life casualty in an actual real situation, which will add to our experience.

I’m off to the Yorkshire Dales next weekend for my Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition, which I’ve been looking forward to for some time, it’ll be a great way to spend the half term. We start at skipton on Sunday morning (I’ll be in Southport on Saturday for my Gran’s 90th birthday! :O ). See this page for a write-up (and vLog) of the 4-day expedition.

The Apex site has now been updated and now includes all the details of what happened on the event, including an article about the rescue.

Here are some links to the media coverage of the incident:

Autumn 2006 Event – Report” – Apex Challenge website
Hitting the Headlines” – Apex Challenge website
Scouts Praised after Rescue Drama” – UK Scouts website
“Scouts in Mountain Rescue Effort” – Community Newswire
“Scouts in peak rescue drama” – Sheffield Star, page 5
“We Were Prepared” – Doncaster Star, pages 1 and 2

Weekend in Manchester

Had an absolutely brilliant time in Manchester this weekend.

Will, Dez and I saw Motion City Soundtrack at the Manchester Academy, and they totally rocked, supported by OK Go, who were pretty cool too (they even did a dance while we were waiting for MCS to come on!)

After the gig finished, we realized we had about 20 mins to get back to the station before the last train, so we made our way straight out, and ended up breaking into a run…
When we finally got to the station, I ran in to see which platform we were meant to be at, and it was number 13…right at the back of the station, completely out of the way, we had to go across all those flat escalator things, get past all the people, and when I finally got to the platform (at this point I’m feeling like Harry Potter at Platform 9¾) there was a train in but before I could think twice about it being the right one, it set off. We missed the last train. Will had to catch me and Dez up anyway, so we wouldn’t have been able to get on it, but I was damn close!

Anyway, Will’s Mum had offered to give us a lift if we missed it, so we phoned her and she kindly drove from Macclesfield to collect us.

Saturday, we finally got into Manchester after waiting 45 mins for a train, which turned out to be packed to the rafters with football fans off to the Man City – West Ham game at the City of Manchester Stadium, and when we got there, Will decided to ignore me when I stated that UMIST, where we were meeting Dave and the others, was a mere 5 minute walk out of the station, so we ended up miles away at the other end of the city centre, until we found a map and I pointed out how far away from it we actually were, so I directed us back to the Morton Lab where Paul had said they had moved on to. Half One, we got there.

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Despite our late appearance at the jam, we had a great time, did some good training and got lots of free water from pubs we passed by. Later on in the day I managed to injure my foot, which unfortunately meant I wasn’t upto much the rest of that day, or even for the Sunday, but I did what I could under the circumstances, we spent a considerable amount of time in trees across the two days, which was fun, and I picked up a thing or two from treeing with Dave.

I stayed at Dave’s on the Saturday night so, inadvertently, we spent the entire evening watching the archive of parkour videos on his PC, which was a great laugh considering the disgraceful content of some of the very first footage from Sheffield, one in particular where Paul and Simon had made the trip to meet up with a few of the Sheffield lot, and filmed throughout the day, it mainly contained Lewis (in his cap, gloves and infamous UF hoody), Shane, Riccardo and James.

It pissed it down on Sunday morning, so we waited for it to dry up a bit before going back out to train, which meant my foot got plenty of time for rest. We watched more and more parkour vids, and also scenes from B13 and Yamakasi, neither of which I have seen in full before. We made our own muesli for breakfast that morning, which is what Dave does every day, and it was great!

We walked to UMIST from Dave’s once it had cleared up, and it was much nicer at this point, and we warmed up for about half an hour whilst waiting for Paul and Dean. Paul came along at 5:00 as planned but Dean couldn’t make it, and we went on to Morton Lab, then over to the new tic-tac they wanted to show me, which was sweet. We went to some trees in a park, and headed to Paul’s car to get to the gym.

The gym seemed smaller than I had expected, as I’ve seen a fair bit of footage in there, but it was still bigger than Steel City Gym that we go to. We had a great session, drilled kongs for quite some time, did some strength stuff on the bars, we created a short circuit and aimed to complete ten rounds; I think Paul and I did 11 but Dave went on to complete 20! They showed me some other exercise and strength stuff they do, including stuff they picked up from their Lisses trip, which I found informative and useful. Some of it was really hard to perform, but with repetitive trial and practise, could turn out to do me a lot of good.

Got the train back as Paul dropped me and Dave off at the station in Stockport, and went home. I’m resting my foot all this week, but should be fine for Saturday’s jam, whether it be in Sheffield City Centre as usual or up at Tapton flats as was suggested.

Here’s the video of the weekend:

New York 2006

Well, I’m in New York, New York. I frickin’ love this place!

Times Square has to be the coolest place I’ve ever seen in my life.

I haven’t got time to write up what I’ve done so far, so I’ll mention a few; today I went to Grand Central Station and the Morgan Museum, I’ve also been up the Empire State Building, been to ‘Ground Zero’ (the World Trade Centre site), been on a helicopter around the edge of the city, been to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Hard Rock Café in Times Square and all the other cool stuff. I did a bus tour and took many many photos with my new camera (Canon PowerShot SD450) and went to the world’s largest store, Macy’s. In my opinion the worst store in the world, boring as hell.

Washington, D.C.

I’m now in Washington for the weekend, came on the train from NY yesterday morning, going back there on Monday morning, then staying in the Big Apple till Friday night. Woo!

Went for a wander yesterday once we’d located the Hotel and our rooms, and just happened to come across the White House. It’s pretty cool. Got many many photos since I got my camera. My parents bought it me as an early 18th birthday present, it’s a Canon Powershot SD-450. Perfect for what I want it for. Will be shooting some parkour footage and getting some editing done.

I’m back in the country!

Got back today (Saturday). To start, here’s the list of all the stuff I did in NYC and DC:

NYC:

  • Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Ellis Island
  • Times Square
  • Chrysler Building
  • Rockefeller Centre
  • Broadway (I saw Lion King)
  • Central Park
  • Strawberry Fields (the John Lennon memorial part of CP)
  • Dakota Building (where John got shot)
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • Helicopter ride over NYC skyline
  • Macy’s (largest store in the world)
  • The Hard Rock Café
  • Ground Zero (WTC site)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Morgan Library and Museum
  • Madame Tussuards
  • Staten Island Ferry
  • Brooklyn Bridge

Washington D.C.:

  • Washington Monument
  • The White House, and visitors’ centre
  • JFK Grave in Arlington Cemetery
  • The Hard Rock Café
  • Senate Building
  • FDR Memorial park (Roosevelt)
  • Scouts Monument
  • Post Office tower with view of Washington
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Columbas Monument
  • and many many more Monuments…

Here are a few photos from the trip: