The Leicester Parkour Park.

 

So, for the people that didn’t already know, there was to be a big unveiling to mark the opening of new Parkour Park in Leicester, Bede Park. Ever since the Loughborough Park at Southfields Park had been built (2014) there were talks of one to be built in Leicester in the near future by the same company (Natural Sports) respectively. The main concern was Leicester already had a rather terrible park built many years ago (2010) in Eyres Monsell, so the council might see that the city already has one built, so why another?! I’m not sure if that same park is even widely used or even know about through the community. I remember being surprised when it was first built as I hadn’t heard anything about it and then it had magically appeared.

There was much anticipation for the new park and with Dan Timms and the general Leicester community being behind the design, I’m sure it would turn out great! Over the past weeks and months we were teased with hearsay and then images of the park coming together as it was being built appeared. I’ll be the first to admit, it looked fantastic! More so due to the different levels it had and how everything was close enough to link together movement. Loads better than our own (small) low level, spaced out and linear one in Nottingham. I liked the bright flooring as well, I wanted to visit it now I had seen what it is like. I wasn’t overly bothered in the beginning, but as the event drew closer the hype for a jump was real.

 

 

I asked around to see who else was game for going, James wasn’t out for the event as it was the same day as his anniversary, unluckily. A few of the others said they were going to go via train, car or hitching a ride there. I was lucky enough to have Eddie interested about going down, which surprised me. He wanted to go early, leaving early to get back home before peak time as he had to go out himself later. That and David had work as well to be back for later. All in all, it fit perfectly with all our routines, providing we didn’t get stuck in endless traffic on the way back that is. Daniel had asked me if I was going along to the event, as he was and it may be the one chance I get to see him in person again. Seeing as he lived down south and isn’t often if at all up this way, so he would be there not to train as such but for support of the scene and to see some old faces and mingle.

I can’t remember the last time I had seen his vagabond, small, homeless looking self! The last time must have been while he was at Nottingham University, which was many aeons ago, it had to be nearing a decade by now. He used to train semi regular back then [1] as that retro video shows at a time when we made a video together. I would then see him fleetingly at gymnastics, than the outdoor training due to uni. This was all before life had caught up with him and stole him away from training completely, like it does with so many practitioners. I still speak to him regularly online, I just don’t see him in person, what with him being the hermit kind. By the looks of the event, it seems that there were loads of people attending to the opening. I just hoped it wasn’t going to be so packed that it was hard to train on anything without getting in the way.

 

 

On the day, I met with David at our own Parkour park waiting for Edd, before we made our drive over to the Leicester park. When we arrived some fifty minutes later due to some inner city traffic, we arrived at the park where there were masses of people already there training. The official opening was to be at 2pm, not that it stopped people training due to that. It was quite the turnout, overwhelming even with so many different communities there. The park looked even more amazing in person, so much to jump on and try movement wise and everything looked like it could be interlinked as well. I really didn’t know what to do, I felt a bit hesitant in fact and didn’t want to be in anyone’s way. I said my greetings to the people I knew and hadn’t seen in ages, before deciding what to try on the park, seeing which parts were less crowded and free. Once it became two o’clock there was a short speech from the Mayor and a ribbon cut as well as a group photo which can be seen above.

Standing on the top levels of the walls for jumps was oddly, not as scary as I thought. There were some nice catleaps and precisions at that height to be done as well. A side of training which is often overlooked as well as balance for many. The walls had great grip which is always a bonus when using a park. There is nothing worse than going to a park, where the set up is great, but the walls are slippery for movements. I ended up wandering around aimlessly, seeing what other groups of people were doing. I really enjoyed the wall set up for kong precisions. Two parallel walls that widened increasing the overall distance, the landing wall was slightly higher than the first which was the only odd thing to them, but that is good way to make sure you push up while vaulting over. I’m not a fan of the platform idea that was on the Loughborough design, but it seemed to work on this park.

 

Daniel – Portrait.

 

I would say things were at a nice average (9ft) distance for most of the ‘main’ jumps. Overall the distances seemed to range from 8-10ft, from looking at gaps with the Parkour vision. A good average for what people can jump, except for those extra long legged people or shall I say strong jumpers who average more a 11ft precision distance and further. I loved the long rounded railing they had too, which had various bollards dotted around it for jump to and from. As we know, most rails and walls are always square and have edges, bar very few thinner, hand railings and such. But with the roundedness you need balance, so a touché to that creation element. There were also various small ledges to grab for dyno movements and two smaller ones on a lower part of a wall, which you could kong precision to, from a railing. I suppose I should mention the reuniting with my dear (small) bearded friend Daniel.

It was good to see him in person again, despite him being smaller and thinner than I remember. He reminded me of some kind of homeless mole. Feeling his way around the park. I’m sure he will appreciate, begrudge that reference. He still has the same wit though. I have to laugh at how out of practice he was, when he tried a simple pop 270 twist to a bar above him. His hands slipping off the bar as he grabbed it, nearly slamming into another railing in the process and landing on the floor. With that, he stated that was his day of training done for another few years or decades! Excuse the lack of photos too, due to the day and training I didn’t take many except the few portraits of Daniel and Edd. I didn’t want to be intuitive by taking images of people I didn’t know and there was so much going on throughout the day as well. I didn’t what to spend the couple of hours I had there, getting images rather than enjoying the park.

 

 

I felt on form with my own movements and enjoyed jumping around the park and giving things a go when they were free. I did love doing the jumps at height, something I don’t usually like. Oh and I loved the section where you could do cat to cats and 180 precisions back and forth. You could even do a kong cat at height and my firm favourite a dash cat there as well. There were so many kids, not all of them were aware of their surroundings. This led to some near collisions at times, being stomped on like a Goomba from Super Mario. There were some crazy jumps and flips being thrown later on using one of the platforms and then later some crazy callisthenics exercises being thrown down too.

Man what a day, I’m feeling rather beat now and it was worth it even if I was only there for a few short hours. I’ve left above a video from the day which the guys at JUMP filmed and edited of the opening. It gives you a bit more of an idea of the park as well as seeing some movement there too. It was also nice to see myself make an appearance in the beginning doing a precision jump. It was nice to see people of all ages giving park the once over. More visits will be needed to this great park, when it is hopefully quiet and less people there over the coming months and year. If you are local to this park or fancy travelling over, do so I fully recommend it for a day trip and you can even sample some of Leicester spots after as well, which are not too far from the park!

 

Daniel – Portrait.

 

Daniel – Portrait.

 

Luka – Running Precision.

 

David & Eddie – Portrait.

 

Eddie – Portrait.

 

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