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The madness of Belfast's free runners: Youths pictured trying parkour on city rooftops

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 17/08/2015

A youth leaps across the top of buildings in central Belfast
A youth leaps across the top of buildings in central Belfast
A youth leaps across the top of buildings in central Belfast
A youth leaps across the top of buildings in central Belfast
Passers-by on the street far below unaware of the youth’s antics above

People walking through Belfast city centre were shocked to see a group of teenage boys running across a roof edge of a five-storey building.

It is thought the youths were practising a dangerous form of running also known as parkour, and that they were reconnoitering the rooftop for a later run.

One young man in particular seemed to be risking his life as he leapt from one dormer window to another and came right to the edge of the building at the corner of Royal Avenue and Donegall Street on Saturday afternoon.

It's thought the group of three or four youths accessed the rooftop using scaffolding put up for building work.

An eyewitness said he was shocked to see what the boys were up to.

"I was working in a nearby building when I spotted movement on the roof so went outside to take a look. There were three or four of them and most were staying in the centre part of the roof so you couldn't see that much of them.

"I could see this one guy in particular who seemed to be the most daring. He was doing moves along the edge of the roof and I was terrified he would fall.

"It was the way they were moving made me think they were free runners checking out the roof for a course.

"I couldn't watch, especially as the one guy on the edge was jumping from dormer roof to roof right at the edge."

The man said he decided to intervene before someone got hurt.

"I shouted up to them that the police were on the way and one shouted back at me 'are we in trouble?'

"I shouted back not yet, but again said the police were coming and they should get down.

"They seemed to get the message and disappeared, much to my relief."

Parkour developed out of military obstacle course training and basically involves getting from one point to another in the fastest and most physically economical way possible.

It includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling and ot her movements.

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