Morzine Training Camp 2011
I attended my first Morzine Parkour camp in 2010, having trained in parkour for
just under a year. Sadly I caught a stomach bug halfway through the week and spent
the rest of the camp shivering in bed and hallucinating about a monkey dressed as
Batman (a recurring theme). I therefore decided to go along again this year, having
miraculously forgotten the pain and exhaustion of the last.
I must be a sucker for punishment.
I was going to write a blow-by-blow diary style account of Morzine, but once it
started breaching 3 A4 pages just to cover the first two days I realised it might be a bit
much. So, here is a brief summary…
There was a lot of training. It mostly consisted of conditioning style sessions, with
some technical aspects thrown in. The thing you learn from a week like this is how
much you can really do if you push yourself; our days would start with a run at 5.30
in the morning and not end until 11 at night sometimes, with four or five training
sessions lasting up to 2 ½ hours at a time throughout the day. But no matter how tired
you are, you learn that if you just start, just get through that first five painful minutes,
your body wakes up and the blood starts flowing. You couldn’t keep it up forever,
you’d kill yourself, but for a week you steel the mind and harden your resolve and just
do it. It was hard; I crashed halfway through a session towards the end of the week
and had to go buy a drink and some sugary fruit just to keep going, but you try.
It makes coming home and training for an hour or two, once a day, seem like a walk
in the park.
There was also an emphasis on expanding your parkour vision. An entire afternoon
was given over to the idea of ‘breaking jumps’, or finding a jump within your abilities
that you’re scared of and confronting it. Whether or not you do the jump at that point
was slightly irrelevant; the idea is to get to know your fear and how to fight it. A
game of parkour chess also encouraged you to try new things – in groups of two or
three, you ‘challenge’ your competitors to complete a move, jump or technique that
you demonstrate, and score points depending on whether they succeed or not. I got
thoroughly destroyed, but the point again was to try.
The two hardest tasks were saved for the end of the week. On Friday evening over
dinner, we were told that there would be no night training that night, and no morning
run on Saturday. Some of us celebrated, some were relieved.
Some of us suspected a trap.
Sure enough, come 3am, there’s a knock on the bedroom door. Your first thoughts
are usually variations on “Where is the nearest blunt object so I can knock this person
out and go back to bed”, but eventually everyone was roused and frogmarched back
in to town. Working on the idea of being ready to move at any time, we trained for an
hour or so in the dead of night after minimal sleep. Try it with your friends. Just be
prepared for them to not like you for a while afterwards.
The final task of the week was a backwards monkey/quadruped walk up a long and
steep slope leading from the town back up to the chalet. This was a difficult hill
to walk up (unless you’re a local, who would often breeze past us sweating and
wheezing our way uphill while quite casually pushing a pram with a small child in it),
let alone backwards QM. I loaded some rock music up on my ipod and powered on
with it as best I could, but it was hard. Somewhere out there is a video of me trundling
up the hill, swearing profusely with every step taken in a solid and unbroken stream of
profanity. It helped.
But everyone finished it. For a team building experience, crawling backwards up
an alpine slope is highly recommended; after going through such pain and suffering
yourself, you can’t help but cheer and encourage those still going through it behind
you. This is the other big thing I learnt from the week. Everyone in the group was
amazing; something about parkour seems to attract the right frame of mind to being
a Good Person. Seeing painful experiences you have gone through mirrored in the
face of another, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual, cannot help but build an
empathic bridge between you and them.
A week together felt like forever, and leaving was genuinely sad. We grew close as
a group and genuine friendships were made that have continued beyond the camp.
We were all tired, we were all sore, and yet not once did we stop making each other
laugh. Nobody got cranky. How often can you say that about week long exercise boot
Special mention must go to the eating challenges that developed throughout the week.
Essentially a game of Double Dare with a cash prize that got out of hand, it resulted
in four separate individuals eating sticks of butter, Dan eating an entire boiled egg in
one go WITH the shell on, Shirley eating an entire potted plant, and culminated in Ed
attempting to consume a very large shot of pepper powder but getting interrupted by
an errant cough… and therefore spreading the pepper all over his dessert, my dessert,
and a large portion of the dinner table.
It was absolutely brilliant. Pepper; what’s the worst that could happen?
On the final night, we were lucky enough to attend a jazz concert/fireworks display
held by a nearby lake. It was beautiful, impressive and incredibly entertaining; just
like the rest of the week. One might even describe it with one word…