Updated: Mar 14
After a two year Hiatus due to Covid we have finally been able to hold the 9th edition of Project Underground. If you’re new to parkour, or you’ve been living under a rock for a few years, Project Underground was started in 2016 and has quickly grown to be the biggest parkour competition in the UK and regularly attracts international athletes to attend as well. There are 3 different competition formats: skill, speed, and style, each one held across multiple categories of under 12s, under 16s, and for this edition of the event we were finally able to split the adults competitions into a men's and women's category and we committed to equal pay for the men and women. This is unfortunately something we haven't seen much of in parkour with it being such a male dominated sport, but in recent years the number of women not just practicing parkour but also competing has increased significantly.
Adding a whole 3 new categories and doubling the total prize money is a scary thing to do, especially after such a long break, but the event has been a true return to form and the support from the community was incredible and hugely appreciated. Nearly 300 people attended the event to compete, train, or just spectate, the men’s skill event alone had 45 people sign up to it, and in total we had 13 women compete in their categories over the weekend which we think is a fantastic number for the first time running women's competitions and we’re looking forward to the next events and building on that attendance.
Jan Lange from Freerunning Schlappen, one of our hosts for the event , had this to say on his Instagram after the weekend:
“Also I realised something important at the event… the first proper Parkour event I‘ve joined since Covid.
During my long injury time (6 months in) I have slowly started to think about my passion for Parkour… am I actually that passionate about it? Do I actually miss it that much? Would I really give anything up for Parkour? I wasn‘t quite sure about the answers anymore.
Then I saw friends from everywhere again, met new friends, saw people train together, had great conversations, moderated crazy Skill, Speed and Style contests and went full hype on the mic and without the mic on it. I got so hyped that I was forced to try my first jumps, swings and even Backflip at the setup.
It was an absolute amazing time.
Now I‘m back home, my hip is feeling fine and I can‘t stop thinking about this event, the people, the challenges, the runs and just the general vibe.
I did fall in love with Parkour again. I can‘t stop thinking about jumps and challenges I want to do, places I want to visit for Parkour and can‘t stop working out to get that hip back to 100%!
Thanks to everyone at PU9, it‘s been a madness, I love PK more than anything - and it 100% is, what I am most passionate about. Big up the Pk community”
A sentiment that was shared by Ross Burns from Scottish Movement who had this to say in response:
“This really spoke to me and is how I’ve been feeling since the event. For a while I questioned my beliefs on why I’ve spent my life chasing something that other people couldn’t understand. something that made me so happy. Something that I didn’t care about being successful in. Something that I loved as it felt like a place where I could truly be myself and explore my body and mind. This event solidified everything for me. I haven’t felt this way in years. I f**king love parkour and the community that surrounds it. I do Parkour just as much for myself as for the people that I have met. I feel like I’ve truly found myself at this event and I’m so glad to hear you had a similar experience Jan. Parkour is the greatest pleasure for me in life and it’s great to hear from others on the same journey”
We’re so grateful to the support we’ve had from the parkour community with Project underground and very happy to hear the positive impact the events have on people attending them.
The event took place over 3 days, on the first day we had the first round of the men's and women's skill competition which saw the athletes having 1 hour on the course attempting to complete 20 challenges, with 11 men and 6 women progressing to the 2nd round. On Day 2 we had a workshop provided by the athletes from Kipa Magazine and we saw the style qualifiers for all categories as well as the men's and women's skill competition round 2 where athletes each had 5 minutes to try and complete 10 challenges. For the style competitions we saw 3 under 12s, 6 under 16s, 4 women, and 15 men (11 in the end due to some people dropping out) progressing to the finals, and for the skill competitions we saw 3 women and 7 men get through. The final day of the event started with the speed competitions for each category, then style finals for each category and finally the event ended with the third round of men's and women's skill where athletes had to complete 5 challenges and could only fail the challenges a total of 5 times.
Check out the full results for each event below.
Some standout moments of the event for me included Lengai Davidson from the under 12s starting his style run with a sideflip to cork and George Seal also in the under 12s starting his style run with a very clean sideflip precision, another standout moment front he under 12s was Leland vaughan smashing the speed run being the only athlete in his category to complete the course in less than 30 second. From the Under 16s style Sean Cornforth opened his run with a standing double backflip, while Jai Smith started his with a double sideflip straight to round off double full, not a run people will forget any time soon. From the men’s and women’s style competitions we saw Sam Coppack do a huge standing level arm jump into a funky descent, Murray Whyte did a sideflip precision at height in his qualifier run that in my opinion was the coolest thing anyone did all weekend, Elise Bickley absolutely nailed a swing gainer precision to back full at the end of her finals run to secure her 1st place, while Rachel Gough was the only woman to do a double flip in this competition with a double fly away. Outside of the competitions we got to see the raw power from Orlando Devaux from Team Phat as he went from one end of the gym to the other in 4 jumps.
You can see all the speed and style runs from the event here, and you can also check out these videos of the event from Team Reality, and Ed Scott.