FREERUNNER, JOHNNY WON'T LET OBSTACLES STAND IN HIS WAY
Nottingham Evening Post – March 29th 2010
He vaults, he rolls, he flips and he somersaults. There's no obstacle that freerunner Johnny Budden cannot overcome.
The 22-year-old from Nottingham doesn't let subways, railings, walls, tall buildings or moving cars (only when he knows the person inside) get in hs way.
|Now he's pushing himself to the limit as the first person to combine endurance running with parkour from John O'Groats to Paris.
He will start the 1,000-mile challenge with a grueling 100-mile non-stop marathon on April 17.
"It may seem a bit mad, but remember, one man's pain is the next man's pleasure." says Johnny.
He will be stopping off at more than a dozen cities en route, including Nottingham, to demonstrate his jaw-dropping stunts. In a sneak preview for Evening Post readers, Johnny performed for the camera earlier this week. Because it is raining the risk of slipping is uppermost in his mind. He leaps off a wall and somersaults off a ledge. In a split second he hops, twists (with his head inches off the pavement) and is back on his feet to the awe of passers-by.
|"Parkour is all about getting from point A to B as fluidly as possible, getting around obstacles in your way"
Johnny studied graphic design at university but turned down job offers to make a career out of parkour. In his final year at university he was invited to perform in front of the Sheikh of Dubai. Since then, Johnny has provided consultancy and choreography for the James Bond movie Casino Royale, starred in a Prodigy video and performed in adverts for Swatch watches, Nokia, the Heineken Cup on Sky Sports, Adidas and Speedstick deodorant.
"I chased a Mercedes around Monte Carlo for an advert," said Johnny, whose parents Clare and Paul live in Beeston. He trained Jack Osbourne for the TV programme Adrenalin Junkies and taught Jude Law fundamental moves for the film Breaking and Entering.
One of the most glitzy and daring stunts took place at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Johnny says: "I jumped out of a helicopter on top of the building, ran through the hotel and somersaulted on stage to give the award to Samuel L. Jackson."
At the other extreme, Johnny trained Royal Marine commandos to help them tackle walls in Afghanistan. At 17, he posed nude for Cosmopolitan to highlight the risk of testicular cancer.
"My nan won't let me forget that one! I had to jump with my legs crossed in front of the photographer," he laughs.
Johnny – known as Sticky to his friends because he was always getting himself into sticky situations – took up parkour as a 15-year-old after seeing it on TV. Growing up in West Bridgford, he got home from school, whipped off his tie, ate a bowl of Apricot Wheats, and then went out training along Central Avenue or in Rushcliffe Leisure Centre gym. Not that he'd encourage this now – but he even rehearsed on the school roof.
He remembers: "I used to keep a tennis ball in my pocket to say I was retrieving it from the roof." Indeed, the dangerous business of jumping off roofs isn't something he wants to promote.
|WATCH THE '1000 MILES OF PARKOUR'
CLICK THE ICON TO VIEW
"The roof top is the bit commercials want to see, but my advice is to start low and slow. Eighty per cent of stuff we do is low level. You build things up and do things hundreds of times. You don't jump off the edge of building going hey 'one for the lads"
Johnny was part of the group that started parkour in the UK and now there are hundreds of followers – some will be running with him on his journey which will take him through cities including Inverness, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cardiff and London. He will be accompanied for some of the way by Royal Marines.
A doctor, who is a family friend, suggested that he used the challenge to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Johnny knew little about the incurable neurological disorder – which robs sufferers of the use of their limbs and speech and has an average life expectancy of two to five years after the onset of symptoms.
For someone as mobile and active as Johnny, the thought mortified him. He has since met several sufferers and relatives who have lost loved ones. The daily obstacles sufferers face spur him on.
"I did barefoot running in the snow. When there are these people who can't move their arms and legs, why am I bothered about getting wet when I have a waterproof jacket?" he says.
He began training for the challenge six months ago along the coast of north Wales. "I have been waking up at 5.30am to run 30 miles a day, doing 1,000 squats, and eating like a monster." Breakfast consists of four slices of toast, two eggs, a tin of beans, Weetabix with yoghurt and honey, fruit and juice.
Readers will be able to follow his adventures via live GPS on his website www.stickyparkour.com.
Runners and cyclists are welcome to join him along the route. He'll be coming through Derby and stopping off in Beeston for a hot bath to soothe any aching muscles.
"Friends and family are turning their homes into clinics. My mum is getting bags of ice," quips Johnny.
"There will be sleep deprivation, hunger, blisters and sprains. At times it will be just me and the support vehicle going through the Highlands of Scotland – and then I will be in London and there will be kids going do it again, do it again'. There will be massive contrasts but that is what I am looking forward to."
After landing in Calais, its full steam ahead to Paris where he will be greeted by one of the founders of parkour, French actor Sebastien Foucan, at the Eiffel Tower. The landmark is the official finish line but Johnny will continue to the heart of parkour, where it first began, in a forest in the suburbs of Paris. Johnny's girlfriend Niki Pilkington, a 23-year-old illustrator, will be driving the support vehicle on the journey, which is likely to take five weeks.
The event is expected to attract considerable media attention and video diaries will be posted on Johnny's website.
So far he has raised more than £4,400 for the MNDA, including support from Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and Germany. Messages left on his Just Giving site include this from Sarah Ezekiel, who said: "I think you're amazing, thanks for helping people with MND! My request is for you to push me in my wheelchair for a little way in London."
To make a donation please go to http://www.justgiving.com/Johnnybudden.
You can see Johnny in spectacular action in the Heineken Cup Sky Sports advert. See his video “1000miles of parkour donate” on YouTube