I spoke to Mairi-Annabel Leggatt, a representative of the University of Manchester Slackline Society, who told me about this unusual sport which is, “in its simplest form, where you tie a rope between two trees and walk on it.” There are a number of ways that you can do slacklining as Mairi explained: “As you progress there are two main variants; tricklining & highlining. Tricklining involves using the line as a trampoline – bouncing around in various forms – whereas high-lining involves more balance and a mind-over-matter type of attitude as it is undeniably counter-intuitive to step out onto a piece of rope suspended over a ravine.”
The Slackline society is fairly new to the University of Manchester as it was only established at the begining of this year by Dave Adler, a trickliner with an interest in highlining, and John Crewe, a highliner who also provides all of the gear and equipment. They have 161 members on Facebook with ‘a motley crew’ of about 15-20 regular attendees.
Slacklining is a unique sport and I asked Mairi how she first got into it: “Personally, I was somewhat in love with a friend of mine who was very circus-skilled orientated. One very sunny day I met her in a local park and they had set up a slackline. After an afternoon of falling off I was eventually able to stand on my own and was hooked. I bought my own line soon after and the rest is history. Slacklining is anything but difficult. I was in Whitworth Park on Wednesday afternoon and I helped a partially sighted woman stand on a slackline. If she has the courage and the trust to stand on a line without sight then all those with it should follow in her steps.”
Mairi encourages people to get involved and try the sport as it is “the perfect combination of exercise and mental agility. If you want to do it for the exercise, it is a fantastic workout for your triceps, biceps and core. I know because I actually have muscles in my arms and tummy now instead of flab. If you’d like to do it for the concentration and focus that it enables, which, I assure you, is like nothing I have ever experienced, then please come and give it a go. We meet most Wednesday afternoons although as the weather has been incredibly cold, momentum has been lost somewhat. However, with the passing of St. David’s Day the beginning of spring has been signalled and there is nothing, not even a bit of inevitable Mancunian drizzle, that will stop us going forward.”
Everyone is welcome to join: “We would love to meet you and introduce you to the sport that we adore in the hope that you can share our passion and enthusiasm.” If you’d like any more information join the Facebook group which contains details of regular meetings: www.facebook.com/groups/uomslackline/.