TODAY: Red Bull's Art of Motion parkour event at City Hall Plaza

Standing behind the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, there was no mistaking the arrival of the 20 Art of Motion competitors for a practice in preparation of today's free, Red Bull-sponsored parkour event at City Hall Plaza. I foolishly assumed they'd saunter up, worn from this 11-day US tour, participate in some light stretching, and ease into their routines. But alas, there they were, scaling every staircase (and tree and signpost and wall) on Tremont. And it didn't stop once they converged on the playground, at least until the school took recess.

But instead of complying with the request to suspend their practice until the kids went back inside, they moseyed onto the next viable urban jungle gym: the inclined subway grate seen in the video above. A typical enclosure that any ordinary person walks by without thinking twice was hastily dissected for its angles and gaps and dutifully flipped over. If nothing else, you have to be impressed with these dudes' energy - I get tired just walking up stairs.

I spoke briefly with Chris Rowan of Pembroke, and Mike Clark and Dustin Bryant of New Hampshire, a group of teenagers whose doe-eyed wonderment suggested they were blown away by this opportunity to compete alongside some of the world's best, like Red Bull-sponsored athlete Ryan Doyle.

I also had a chance to talk with Doyle, who has been in the game for 11 years now. If there was one thing Ryan stressed, even instructed me to print, it's that parkour is not a sport. He likened it to martial arts, in that everyone has a unique form or discipline. There is no competitive nature between the participants, he said, explaining that the judges arrive at the results based on how well the athlete excels in their particular style on that particular day.

Yeah, I wasn't to quite able to wrap my head around this his metanarrative logic either, but I believed him in the same sense that if Michael Jordan told me basketball wasn't a sport, I'd just have to take his word for it.

Nursing a separated shoulder, Doyle sat out of yesterday's practice, but rest assured he will be holding it down at today's main event from 4:30-9 pm at City Hall Plaza.
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