Mike Wilson, member of extreme movement collective 3Run, has been swinging and jumping through the urban jungle for nearly a decade. He talks to The London Word about what it’s like to view a city from a completely different perspective.
Wilson practises parkour, the art of getting from A to B in the most efficient way using body and mind; and freerunning – an extension of parkour but with added front and backflips.
He used to be a professional gymnast, but everyone else in the 14-member group is self-taught, ‘which in a way I think is more impressive,’ he says.
‘We pride ourselves about being as creative as we can in terms of our movements, which involves anything the body can do from jumping on obstacles and swinging on bars.’
The job has seen him travel the world, having recently returned from the Caribbean shooting a high-end commercial.
But London is still his natural habitat. He regularly travels up from his home in Basingstoke for the urban topography.
‘London is very much our playground. There are still so many areas untouched by other practitioners,’ he says. ‘Personally I like Elephant and Castle and Vauxhall. They are very urban in the way the landscape is structured and some of the spots are great because you can move through them without stopping. Connected spaces with low walls are most appealing.’
As a professional outfit, 3Run only perform in areas they are authorised to. ‘Being granted access to run across the BBC rooftops in Westfield was also a really good job. It was an environment with lots of rails, high drops and gaps – that allows you to do cat leaps, where you run from a lower platform to a higher one, and then jump and latch on like a cat.’
But despite the extreme movement mileage clocked up over the years, Wilson has not yet done himself any serious injuries. ‘I’ve had twisted ankles and damaged shoulders, but nothing crazy. Some people in the group have had broken arms – in fact one of the guys made a video of it, which sounds a bit weird but it was one of our most popular YouTube clips.
‘I think a lot of it boils down to common sense.’ Confidence is key to staying safe, he says. ‘If you even have an element of doubt in your mind, then the risks of injury are higher because it’s almost as if you are setting yourself up to fail.’
Derelict areas are the most visually appealing. ‘I look at areas in a different way, so instead of thinking how I can walk round somewhere, its more about how I can get over and through it.
‘When I look out a window and look at the street, it’s completely different to how a normal person would see it. And I think that’s really good for your brain, because it’s always active and looking for new ways to move across spaces.’
3RUN are ambassadors for the HTC Tale of Your City campaign, where they have created a video that shows their unique take on London using the new HTC One X+ phone.
For more information visit their website.