This summer, Drew Taylor led parkour crew Storror across the rooftops of Istanbul and in a test of skill, nerves and agility, even crossing the Bosphorus Strait by jumping from Galata bridge onto a passenger ferry…
When he accepted the challenge of crossing continents, from Europe into Asia, with parkour, Drew Taylor knew it would be taking him and Storror into uncharted territory, as the first ever crew to attempt the feat. They may be elite athletes, with a YouTube following of over one million, but this was a next-level test. Even then, the challenges of moving through a teeming city, packed with people, moving vehicles and obstacles paled in comparison when he asked himself: how do we parkour across the stretch of water that separates Istanbul on the European side, to the seaport of Haydarpasa on the Asian side? As he exclusively reveals to RSNG, it wasn’t going to be easy…
RSNG How did you come up with the idea for crossing continents with parkour? DREW TAYLOR, ATHLETE ‘When Canon Europe challenged us to do something for the first time, we came up with the idea of using parkour to cross continents. Rather than making things easy for ourselves, we took things to the next level, creating something that had never before been attempted, by doing it over moving boats and vehicles, and traversing through the busy streets of Istanbul.’
RSNG What was it like running the bustling streets, rooftops and moving vehicles? DT ‘Istanbul is a super crazy place to be, let alone move. It’s home to 15 million people, so one of the key challenges we faced was closing down the spaces we needed to use, or dodging the human traffic that we encountered. The rooftops are really unique to that part of the world, so it was really fun to make use of the local architecture, roofs and ramps.’
RSNG How much of parkour is spontaneous and opportunistic – and is it about self-expression? DT ‘Ah…see, parkour appears to be completely spontaneous to the average person, but in actual fact almost all of what you see online is extremely thoroughly planned and prepared for. There is definitely a huge element of self-expression and moving in your own particular style, and there are a million ways of getting from A to B. How you chose to overcome those obstacles says a lot about you!’
It’s very stressful when you’re trying to focus on launching yourself off a bridge!
RSNG What was the hardest move to do on film for this project? DT ‘The jump to the boat from the Galata Bridge was the biggest challenge. It was very high, and so we needed to prepare for that a lot both mentally and physically. To add to that pressure, this stunt was by far the most difficult to choreograph. We needed the boat to come underneath the bridge in a very particular way so we didn’t miss it. There were numerous times when it wasn’t in the right position, so we had to back out and then wait for all the other boat traffic to reset. It’s very stressful when you’re trying to focus on launching yourself off a bridge!’
RSNG How do you train the strength and conditioning to freerun? DT ‘It’s not essential to train any strength and conditioning, your body is conditioned extremely effectively through the parkour practise alone! The best idea is to get out there and move as much as you can – you will develop strength and mobility naturally. But to make sure our body does recover from the parkour exercises, we supplement our movement training with strength and conditioning. Typically this involves a lot of compound movements for strong legs.’
RSNG What’s the most important parkour move? DT ‘We always recommend that you start by learning how to land, and roll. If you know how to land safely, it makes everything else a lot more achievable.’
RSNG How is Storror pushing the boundaries of parkour and is the advance in video tech helping you to document that? DT ‘What we’re really passionate about is telling the story of how we do what we do, and performing parkour feats for the very first time. Which in a sense, hasn’t been done like this before. The Canon EOS M50 is a great example of how technology is helping that process. It’s so important for us to have a camera that is small and lightweight without having to compromise on quality, so it is easily accessible at all times to capture that story, whenever it happens!’
RSNG What three tips would you give to someone starting out in parkour? DT ‘Have fun; make friends; your progress should be gradual and safe.’
RSNG What three pitfalls should a beginner look out for? DT ‘Trying to tick off a list of moves; pushing yourself too fast and getting injured; needing affirmation from others.’
WHAT NEXT? Watch the amazing footage of Storror using all of their parkour skills and experience to cross from Europe to Asia…
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