Free Running Goes Mainstream

World championships raise profile of street sport
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 3, 2008 4:58 PM CDT
David Belle, of France who is the world's leading practitioner of Parkour, watches as people audition to perform with him in New York city.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The underground sport of free running—which involves back-flipping, jumping, and running over obstacles—is going mainstream as London plans to host its world championships next month, the Guardian reports. Athletes will run a closed course, but most free runners still use the streets—and Britain is trying to steer them away from roofs and roads before someone gets hurt.

"We are not trying to ruin people's fun, but this is a really dangerous activity," one official told the Guardian. Yet the sport goes beyond the flashy free running stunts that have cropped up in movies like Casino Royale. "To be any good you need to be disciplined and focused," said one freerunner, "People who do it are sensible and serious and there's no unnecessary risk-taking." (Read more free running stories.)