Professional Member

York Takeover – The New Parkour Competition Format Highlighting A More Inclusive Approach.

At Parkour UK, we want to highlight community competitions and events that happen throughout the year.

As the world is slowly adapting to life after the initial COVID outbreaks, social contact is slowly starting to return to normal for the first time in two years.

After two years of very few parkour events, both internationally and nationally, parkour events and competitions have started to pick up again.

The newest of these community-organized parkour competitions include “Takeover” events.

Takeover events are when an individual or group from the parkour community spends some time compiling a list of challenges in their city. Parkour practitioners will then descend onto the city, trying to complete as many challenges as possible in a set time frame (Typically a day or two.)

The first of these events popped up in the UK earlier this year, the first being the Sheffield Takeover.

Since then, a second Takeover event has been held in York, with another being announced in Liverpool for November of this year.

The York Takeover had 50 Parkour Challenges under 4 categories.

  • York Classics: A collection of challenges celebrating the heart of York Parkour, and the people who have trained there.
  • Old School: A collection of challenges inspired by the Yamakasi, focusing on grit, strength, and endurance.
  • New School: A collection of challenges inspired by recent trends in Parkour. Think spins, funk, and tekky weirdness.
  • Flow: A collection of challenges involving the smooth linking of movements together.

The event had a prize pool of over £400, split evenly between the Men’s and Women’s divisions. Within the last few years, the vast majority of the parkour community has been pushing for equal prize money in competitions for men and women. Community-organized parkour events have been leading this change within the sport.

A parkour event in Norway, called the “Oslo Movement Gathering” also donated £100 to help with equal prize money.

I spoke to Sam Coppack. Sam is a “Professional Member” at Parkour UK and hosts the Parkour Coach Companion podcast. He is also responsible for hosting the York Takeover event a few weekends ago. He kindly gave me some insight into the event from an organizer’s perspective and gave some tips on what to do if you want to host your own city takeover event.

So, getting started, I asked where the inspiration for the York Takeover came from.

“The Sheffield Takeover was a major inspiration for our York Takeover event. Their 2-day, 100-challenge format was a big success, and I felt that it was a new, interesting strand of parkour street competition. I absolutely loved the experience, and as soon as I got home, I began thinking about the logistics of a York Takeover event.

I also have to give huge credit to people like Renae Dambly, who on my podcast, The Parkour Coach Companion, explained her “Search and Destroy” jam, which had a similar format.”

Sam is mostly by himself in the York scene. The planning of the event took almost a month of dedicated hard work and preparation. This involved taking photos of all the challenges, annotating them, announcing and advertising the event (mostly through social media), building a spot map for York, and managing prizes, such as money and discount codes from parkour brands.

Parkour UK, group of parkour practitioners, York Takeover 2022, Parkour UK
The York Takeover Event – Phot from @York_Gents Instagram

“I spoke to lots of people online and sought after some advice from the organizers of the Sheffield Takeover, Adam Dore and Liam Norbury. On the day, Ollie (Sam’s Housemate) had been building a spreadsheet for the points recording, and I sought more help from Dean Stimpson about the scoring and other logistics. He gave me some moral support.

I was very nervous, and honestly, I put a bit too much work on myself.”

Of course, like any casually organized parkour event, there were some concerns.

“Weather, injuries, and being moved on from spots were the main areas of concern. Thankfully, the weather held out, and there was only one significant injury (a sprained wrist), and only got moved on from a few spots. I was disappointed to find that, in the morning prior to the event, there had already been an incident with the residents, but I gave a strong word to contestants which seemed to work for the rest of the day.”

I asked Sam if he thought the day was a success and if he had any areas of improvement for next time.

“I can happily say it was a success. We managed to sell over 50 tickets for the event, there were few injuries, and we were only moved on from a few spots. I received a lot of praise throughout the day, and afterward too. York has never seen so much parkour in one day. There was something special about seeing people jumping around every corner you turned.

We pooled enough money for a Women’s category and a 16 and Unders category too. This helped attract students from up North. NBDs (Never Been Done Challenges) were conquered, Greggs was eaten, and Instagram was flooded with hundreds of challenges being completed.

My format was experimental and a little complicated, but gave contestants an interesting experience, and catered to a broad skill set.

The scoring was very full-on. Ollie sat inside for about 6 hours, and both Dean and I had to help throughout. We had to postpone the awards ceremony because we hadn’t finished, meaning some people had already left for their trains. We got some of the scores wrong, including the women’s podium, which was frustrating and embarrassing.

More hands on deck were definitely needed, and we could have perhaps staggered the points onslaught by enforcing a midday break, where everyone submitted at the same time, rather than relentlessly.

Some feedback from the community also mentioned that the event felt a little rushed, with only 6 hours to complete 50 challenges. For some, this sense of adventure was a great way to test themselves, but for others, it drained the enjoyment of training.

We could have advertised earlier and harder, especially to get more women to get involved. We only had 3.”

I went on to ask Sam about the future of Takeover events, and whether or not he would like to see more.

“I would love to see more Takeovers. They are a fantastic way to get a real sense of a city and are exciting to those that thrive on treasure hunting and exploring. I’m already excited for the confirmed Liverpool Takeover this year, as well as whisperings from many other communities making moves. I expect we’ll see a number of takeover events next Spring when the sun comes back. The scope is massive. If they catch on we could be seeing Takeover style events across the world, and that would be wonderful.”

Sam kindly gave me a list of advice for organizers of Takeover events, which I have detailed below.

  • Get a team together to organize the event.
  • Ensure it’s fair, equal, and inclusive (Both people and skill levels)
  • Don’t be afraid to be a bit experimental, new ideas can spread.
  • Communicate with previous organizers of Takeover events.
  • Advertise clearly, but ask questions to the community.
  • Think carefully about your points system.
  • Be clear, and strict, on your challenges.
  • Consider safety aspects and respect for the city and the people within it.
  • Find the best parking locations.
  • Advertise hard, and don’t be afraid to reach out to brands for sponsorship and donations.

A huge well done to Sam and all of those involved in the organization of the event. Make sure you follow the York Gents on Instagram by clicking the link here.