You may have seen them bouncing off the walls of the National Theatre in the documentary Jump Britain, or perhaps in Anthony Minghella's film Breaking and Entering. But next week, the fearless athletes of free running – who leap, vault and flip their way around the urban jungle – take centre stage at the sport's first world championship in London.
The competition is the brainchild of "EZ", aka Paul Corkery, the head of the sport's international organisation, Urban Free Flow. Corkery, 34, left his first love – boxing – when he married in 1998. "I had a kid and had to get sensible," he says. "I saw a piece on television about free running and went on to a message board to find out more."
There he hooked up with fellow enthusiast Asid, and they began training together, founding Urban Free Flow in 2003. Jump London – the Channel 4 film that preceded Jump Britain – aired later that year, and the team took off, starring in ads and starting to train other. "The great thing about the sport is that it is accessible to everyone," Corkery adds. "It's about how you tackle obstacles, and you can go out and do it anywhere."
At the championship, sponsored by Barclaycard, Sony Ericsson and Adidas, the competitors will be judging each other as they tackle a multi-level, indoor course. There is no prize money – it's purely about the spectacle. "People are going to see 25 athletes at the top of their game," says EZ. "It is going to be a visual treat."
The Barclaycard World Free Running Championship is at the Roundhouse, London NW1 on Wednesday. For tickets, call 0870 4000 601