Cool Runnings

By Shannon Kelley Gould

Imagine an activity that offers the grace of a martial art, the adrenaline rush of an extreme sport, and a touch of the danger and mischief of MTV’s Jackass. Free running, which takes its cues from a French physical discipline called Parkour, involves little more than a change in perspective: For free runners, the world is their obstacle course. Free running turns anything in the environment — especially those things that tend to confine — into the elements of a playground just waiting to be swiftly traversed. Railings, staircases, walls, buildings, and Dumpsters are jumped, vaulted, or climbed, à la Jackie Chan. On his Web site, Sebastien Foucan, widely credited (along with David Belle) as the co-founder of Parkour, claims, “Following a path can bring with it new opinions and thoughts, both obvious and those that are not so obvious. You must always follow your own intuition — you must always do what you feel, rather than what others think.” Deep thoughts for a such a seemingly random activity — but, in fact, most free runners wax similarly philosophical about their activity of choice, describing it as a way of life, and comparisons to “being fluid like water” are common among devotees. We learned about the phenomenon from the jaw-droppingly wild videos posted on local free runner Michael Turner’s MySpace page ( and at — needless to say, we were impressed. For those eager to give it a try, all you need is your own imagination (and maybe some kneepads).

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Jon Peterson Departs Habitat for Humanity

Takes a post with Covenant Trust Company of Chicago.

Montecito Pushes Back on Streamlined Rebuild Process

Not so fast with fast-track rebuilding, leaders tell the county

St. George Files Suit Against Gelb for Unpaid Debt

Pair of Isla Vista landlords in legal tussle over property sales costs.

Thousands of Plaintiffs Added to Refugio Oil Spill Case

Litigation follows footsteps of 1969 Union Oil spill attorneys.

Push Comes to Shove Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health

County supervisors confront too many needs with not enough money.