The Tube Challenge is the accepted name for the Guinness World Record attempt to visit all the stations on the London Underground network in the fastest time possible. Participants do not have to travel along all lines to complete the challenge, merely to pass through all the stations on the system. Participants may connect between stations on foot, or by using other forms of public transport.
The first recorded challenge took place in 1959. Although many people have attempted the challenge and held the record since, they have not always been credited in the record books. In the earlier days of the challenge, participants were permitted to use private forms of transport (such as a car or bike) to move between stations. This led to times of less than 16 hours in some earlier records, and Guinness later changed the rules[when?] to ban private transport.
The following is a list of record holders that have appeared in the Guinness Book of Records. The record did not appear in the book until its eighth edition.
|March 1960||George Hurst & Jane Barwick||264||18 hours, 35 minutes|
|9 September 1961||J Birch, B Phillips & N Storr||264||18 hours, 9 minutes|
|3 December 1960||K A Branch and J Branch||273||20 hours, 0 minutes|
|22 August 1963||Christopher Niekirk||272||14 hours, 58 minutes|
|4 July 1964||A Mortimer, J P Herting, D Corke & G Elliot||272||14 hours, 17 minutes|
|7 September 1965||Alan Paul Jenkins||273||16 hours, 57 minutes|
|1 November 1966||Leslie Burwood||273||15 hours, 53 minutes|
|1 September 1967||Leslie Burwood||277||14 hours, 33 minutes|
|3 September 1968||Leslie Burwood||277||15 hours, 0 minutes|
|27 June 1969||Anthony Durkin and Peter Griffiths||277||16 hours, 5 minutes|
|20 May 1980||John & Stephen Trafford||278||18 hours, 3 minutes|
|3 December 1981||Colin Mulvany||277||17 hours, 37 minutes|
|14 April 1986||Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, John Garde, Timothy John Clark||272||19 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds|
|30 July 1986||Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, Timothy Robinson, Timothy Clark, Richard Harris||272||18 hours, 41 minutes, 41 seconds|
|4 October 1994||Robert Robinson, Tom McLaughlin||270||18 hours, 18 minutes, 9 seconds|
|16 March 2000||Robert Robinson, Chris Loxton, Chris Stubley, Chris Whiteoak, Olly Rich and Adam Waller||272||19 hours, 57 minutes, 47 seconds|
Between the 1960s and 1990s the record regularly appeared in the Guinness Book of Records, initially listed under "Underground Railways - circuit of", but later just under "Railways" and then "Trains". Since the change of publishing style of the book from the 2001 edition onwards, the record - although frequently broken - has only once appeared in printed form, in the 2008 edition. More recent records have tended to be published online instead.
On 3 April 2002 Jack Welsby set a new record time by traversing the system in 19 hours, 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Welsby made just one attempt, starting his route at Heathrow and finishing at Amersham.
This time was beaten on 4 May 2004 by Geoff Marshall and Neil Blake who achieved a new record time of 18 hours 35 minutes and 43 seconds. Their attempt began on the first train out of Amersham on the Metropolitan Line and ended at Upminster, and took Guinness World Records four months to ratify it. A previous attempt had been broadcast on TV as part of The Tube TV series and another attempt had been televised as part of an ITV1 programme Metroland: Race Around the Underground on 16 October 2003.
Although this time stood for two years before being beaten by just five seconds, it was not until Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson (both from Sweden) set a new record time for a network of 275 stations that it appeared in the Guinness Book of Records again, in the 2008 edition. They set a new record of 18 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds, on 26 September 2006.
Changes to the network (and the total number of stations) meant the record was 'reset' and broken three more times during 2007 and 2008. In March 2008, Heathrow Terminal 5 opened as a new station and 'reset' the record with the total number of stations to visit now at 269. Shortly after Andi James, Martin Hazel and Sara Wearn set a new time on 8 July 2008 of 17 hours, 56 minutes and 11 seconds. Although the total number of stations to visit became 270 in October 2008 when Wood Lane station opened, Guinness ruled that it was not a significant enough change to warrant a record reset.
On 14 December 2009, previous record holders James and Hazel, accompanied this time by another former holder Steve Wilson, achieved a record time of 16 hours, 44 minutes and 16 seconds. This record has won an unusual accolade: in February 2013 it was announced that a Turner Prize-winner, conceptual artist Mark Wallinger, had created a set of 270 enamel enamel plaques of unicursal labyrinth designs, one for every tube station, to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Each plaque will be numbered according to its position in the route taken by James, Hazel and Wilson.
This record remained unbeaten for 17 months, until Marc Gawley from Denton, Greater Manchester set a new time of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds on 21 April 2011. As a fast marathon runner, he revealed that he did not use any buses on the day, preferring instead to make all his connections on foot.
Gawley's record was beaten a month later, when previous record holders Andi James and Steve Wilson completed the challenge 44 seconds faster, setting a new record time of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 13 seconds on 27 May 2011.
It is quite common for people to attempt the challenge and be sponsored for it — often on a 'pence per station' basis, or a complete sum for travelling the whole network. Attempts have been linked to charities such as Children in Need and Comic Relief. A charity attempt known as 'Tube Relief' was organised, following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, to raise money for the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund. Fifty one people rode the entire tube network for the day, raising over £10,000 towards the official charity fund. Sue Ryder charity event took place in November 2011, where ten teams competed against each other to have their photo taken outside as many of the 270 stations as possible.
Richie Firth from Absolute Radio raised the profile of the challenge by announcing a record attempt as part of the Christian O'Connell breakfast show in 2011. Although a test run was made, the attempt was postponed due to Richie failing a medical. The attempt was eventually made in December 2012, but one station was missed due to the online timetables incorrectly stating that a train service was running to Olympia.
The BBC News Magazine ran a video piece, featuring an attempt made with Geoff Marshall and Anthony Smith, from 28 March 2013.
Other previous attempts have included a Cambridge University student and a pub landlord from Reading in 2006, a man raising money for Tearfund in 2010, two teenagers from Leighton Buzzard in 2011 and two teenagers from Sutton in February 2012.
- Subway Challenge, a similar challenge in New York City
- "Fastest Time to Travel to all Underground Stations". Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- The Guinness Book of Records (10th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1962. p. 191.
- The Guinness Book of Records (8th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1960. p. 183.
- The Guinness Book of Records (11th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1964. p. 190.
- The Guinness Book of Records (12th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1965. p. 200.
- The Guinness Book of Records (14th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1967. p. 137.
- The Guinness Book of Records (15th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1969. p. 175.
- The Guinness Book of Records (17th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1970. p. 137.
- The Guinness Book of Records (16th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1969. p. 183.
- The Guinness Book of Records (27th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1980. p. 143.
- Guinness Book of Records (29th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1982. p. 145.
- The Guinness Book of Records 1987 (33rd Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1986. p. 132.
- Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 1993. p. 125.
- The New Guinness Book of Records. Guinness Publishing Ltd. 1996. p. 124.
- Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2002. p. 186.
- "New record set on the tube". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2002-07-24.
- "Every Tube station in 18 hours". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2004-09-29.
- "Tube station visit record broken". BBC News. 2004-09-29. Retrieved 2004-09-29.
- "Going down the tubes". Evening Standard. 2003-10-17. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2008. p. 198.
- Buzzword. Royal Bournemouth Hospital. 2008. p. 7.
- "Richard's going underground on charity mission". This Is Plymouth. February 4, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2011. "[will] attempt to dethrone Andi, Martin Hazel and Steve Wilson who set the benchmark on December 14, 2009."
- Brown, Mark (7 February 2013). "Tube celebrates 150th birthday with labyrinth art project". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "New world record for Denton man who travelled to all 270 London tube stations in under 17 hours". Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Sutton woman to tackle every tube station in London for charity". Sutton Guardian. July 10, 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Pudsey Challenge 2010". BBC Sunderland. November 12, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Going Underground". Sunderland Echo. January 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Aiming to misbehave". March 14, 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Tube challenge for bomb charity". BBC News. 2005-08-25. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Visiting 270 London Underground stations in one day". Purple Frog. 2011-11-14.
- "Absolute Radio Presenter Aiming to Smash London Tube Record". Guinness World Records.
- "Richie's Tube Challenge". Absolute Radio.
- "Richie Completes The Tube Challenge". Absolute Radio.
- "Tube challenger pulls out all the stops in latest record attempt". BBC News.
- "Tube triumph". Bristol Evening Post. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Barking Berks - Going Underground". BBC Berkshire Online. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "Guinness world record attempt goes down the tube". North Devon Journal. February 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
- "On track for a tube world record task". Leighton Buzzard Observer. 2011-12-11.
- "Tube Stop Challenge". Sutton Guardian. 2012-02-25.