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).


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