As many of you know, here at PPK Philly we value safety, fun, and good technique, above just about everything else.
Since parkour is a relatively new sport/discipline the competition formats are at best ‘raw’, a couple different main ones permeate the scene, specifically ‘speed’, ‘style’, and ‘skills’. All three of these comps work to reach different main goals of parkour, but we feel like they all miss certain key aspects of the sport. Our solution to this? Create a new style of competition, Routes. We took a lot of inspiration from rock climbing while developing this format, we wanted something that could challenge practitioners of all skill levels, sizes, ages, and genders and ideally could pit them against the course more than against each other.
One key problem we wanted to address was a value of natural skill and being able to jump far/high, against trained precision and technique, a hallmark complaint against speed comps, making it nearly impossible for less genetically powerful people to compete at the top levels. The second issue was the wait times that you typically encounter at competitions, waiting for hours to perform a minute long speed, or style run simply is not fun and doesn't lend to the way we actually train. The third main issue we wanted to address was the aspect of competing against each other instead of the environment. Some practitioners see competitions against other athletes as against the spirit of parkour and therefore think competitions are not healthy for the growth of the sport.
Routes are generally 1-4 moves linked together ending in some sort of precise landing. The competition lasted for 3 hours, from 7 PM - 10 PM. We had 63 routes set up in the gym. The rules are simple: Attempt as many routes as possible. When you are ready to be judged signal by one of 7 judges that are freely walking around the space to come and judge your attempt at a route. If it takes you one try to complete the route, you earn 5 points. If it takes two tries you earn 3 points. More than 2 attempts will only land you 1 point. You’re welcome to try any route as few or as many times as you like before calling over a judge. Routes are marked with boxes made of tape with clear indicators whether they are for (Left foot, right foot, left hand, right hand). If either of those four appendages lands outside of the designated box the attempt is a fail. If at any point any knee or elbow is placed down or is used to hold weight, that attempt is a fail. Certain routes had specific instructions (have to start from standing, may start from running, must not place butt down during route, etc…). Whoever ends the 3 hours with the most points wins.
Challenges range from 6’ standing pres 3’ off the ground, to 12’ running pres to a rail at height, to 15’ foot lache pres. We specifically labeled each challenge as ‘Kids’, ‘Adults’, or ‘Advanced’ yet these labels were kept hidden from competitors. To qualify for the kids' podium, you had to have completed 1 or fewer adults challenges (and be under 16). To qualify for the adults' podium you had to have completed 1 or less advanced challenges, and any more advanced challenges then that landed you in the advanced podium. Women and men had separate prize pools, yet competed at the same time and in all the same challenges for the same prizes.
Some of the key takeaways we had from the routes comp were the fact that all ages and abilities could compete side by side, pro-level athletes right next to 10-year-old kids, and parkour moms. People who would have otherwise been to shy to compete in a parkour competition, competed because of how you could try a challenge as many times as you want before anyone had to watch or judge you. People who did not like the competitive side of parkour could still train with their friends and have a ton of fun completing challenges without having to compare themselves, yet more competitive athletes could push each other and constantly be one-upping the others on tech-heavy challenges. There was no down time, across the whole three hours you could train and compete as much as you want, or take frequent breaks if you so chose. There was significantly less bravado, and therefore 0 injuries across the entire comp due to not being pressed for time.
We had a ton of fun at our routes comp and will be hosting more soon. Be on the lookout!
The podiums were as follows:
Advanced Men: Elias Sell 1st (167), Sal Gaetano 2nd (157), Ernest Luboja 3rd (151).
Adults Men: Evan Langalis 1st (83), Taylor Jones 2nd (69), Kenney 3rd (63).
Adults Women: Tara O’Brien 1st (75), Kara Parker 2nd (35), Chelsea Marlowe 3rd (11).
Kids: Noah Pizzio 1st (66), Julian Thompson 2nd (54), Jonas Sell 3rd (41).
PPK Philadelphia Team