GoPro-documented parkour run performed at the largest course in the world

The Skyladder parkour course at Tianmen Mountain in China is a dizzying maze of obstacles and long drops — and it was all caught on camera. 

Calen Chan is a freerunner, parkour athlete, and founder of YGT Freerunning. Parkour is an intensive athletic discipline that developed out of military obstacle course training. The art has evolved to encompass climbing, jumping, and running through natural obstacles found primarily in urban environments such as parks and playgrounds. 

The fundamental philosophy behind parkour is to challenge the psychological limits of the mind by pushing the physical limits of the body. It is viewed as a kind of expression as opposed to a collection of movements and can be thought of as a learning process through which athletes develop heightened interactions with the world around them.

Tianmen Mountain is located in the Hunan Province in China and a walkway built beneath an impressive natural arch serves as a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

The Skyladder parkour course is the largest parkour course in the world, comprising 999 steps set on a 45 degree incline and a compilation of huge drops. It is built into the stairway leading down from the natural archway of the mountain, including dozens of fixed colored blocks that serve as landing and launching points for the majority of the course’s movements.

Athlete Calen Chan took on the Skyladder parkour course with a GoPro in his mouth. It was the day after a competition and a short time before the course would be dismantled. The walkway was busying with tourists that moved out of his way just seconds before collision, although some simply stayed put, in which case he was forced to navigate around them. This adds a raw urban element to the video that could not have been captured in a competition setting.

The video is a vivid presentation of the burgeoning art form, effectively preserving both the difficulty of the movements and the natural setting coveted by parkour performers.