Tube Challenge

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A 2007 map of the stations on the London Underground.

The Tube Challenge is the Guinness World Record for the Fastest time to travel to all London Underground stations. Participants do not have to travel along all lines to complete the challenge, merely travel to all the stations on the system. Participants may connect between stations on foot, or by using other forms of public transport.

As of 2015, the record for fastest completion was held by Ronan McDonald and Clive Burgess of the United Kingdom, who completed the challenge in 16 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds on 19 February 2015.[1]


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 printed edition of the Guinness Book of Records. The record did not appear in the book until its eighth edition.

Date Record Holder(s) Stations Time
March 1960 George Hurst & Jane Barwick[2] 264 18 hours, 35 minutes
9 September 1961 J Birch, B Phillips & N Storr[3] 264 18 hours, 9 minutes
3 December 1960 K A Branch and J Branch[4] 273 20 hours, 0 minutes
22 August 1963 Christopher Niekirk[4] 272 14 hours, 58 minutes
4 July 1964 A Mortimer, J P Herting, D Corke & G Elliot[5] 272 14 hours, 17 minutes
7 September 1965 Alan Paul Jenkins[5] 273 16 hours, 57 minutes
1 November 1966 Leslie Burwood[6] 273 15 hours, 53 minutes
1 September 1967 Leslie Burwood[7] 277 14 hours, 33 minutes
3 September 1968 Leslie Burwood[8] 277 15 hours, 0 minutes
27 June 1969 Anthony Durkin and Peter Griffiths[9] 277 16 hours, 5 minutes
20 May 1980 John & Stephen Trafford[10] 278 18 hours, 3 minutes
3 December 1981 Colin Mulvany[11] 277 17 hours, 37 minutes
14 April 1986 Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, John Garde, Timothy John Clark[12] 272 19 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds
30 July 1986 Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, Timothy Robinson, Timothy Clark, Richard Harris[13] 272 18 hours, 41 minutes, 41 seconds
4 October 1994 Robert Robinson, Tom McLaughlin[14] 270 18 hours, 18 minutes, 9 seconds
16 March 2000 Robert Robinson, Chris Loxton, Chris Stubley, Chris Whiteoak, Olly Rich and Adam Waller[15] 272 19 hours, 57 minutes, 47 seconds
26 September 2006 Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson[16] 275 18 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds
1 October 2013 Geoff Marshall and Anthony Smith [16] 270 16 hours, 20 minutes, 27 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. Since the record has not regularly been published in the book, there have been two broad configurations on the system – one for 275 stations, and one for 270 once the East London Line was no longer part of the network.

On 3 April 2002 Jack Welsby set a new record time for 275 stations by traversing the system in 19 hours, 18 minutes and 45 seconds.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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 275 stations that it appeared in the Guinness World Records Book again, in the 2008 edition.[16] They set a new record of 18 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds, on 26 September 2006.

Changes to the total number of stations meant that the record was 'reset' and broken three more times over a two-year period until when in October 2008 Wood Lane station opened, and the network settled at 270 stations.

The first holders with 270 stations were Andi James, Martin Hazel and Steve Wilson who on the 14 December 2009 achieved a record time of 16 hours, 44 minutes and 16 seconds.[21] TfL used this route four years later as part of the Art on the Underground labyrinth project to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, installing permanent designs at stations in the same order that the world record route had taken, and later appeared in an Information Capital article.[22]

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.[23] 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 just thirty-seven days later, when James and Wilson completed the challenge in just 44 seconds faster, setting a new record time of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 13 seconds on 27 May 2011.[24][22]

This record stood for over two years until August 2013, before being broken by previous record holder Geoff Marshall who along with Anthony Smith, completed the challenge in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds,[25][24] the record time was then published for the first time in seven years in the Guinness World Records book 2015.

Clive Burgess and Ronan McDonald set a new world record time of 16 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds on the 21 February 2015.[26]

Other attempts[edit]

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.[27] Attempts have been linked to charities such as Children in Need[28][29] and Comic Relief.[30] 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,[31] 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.[32]

Richie Firth from Absolute Radio raised the profile of the challenge by announcing a record attempt[33] as part of the Christian O'Connell breakfast show in 2011.[34] 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.[35]

The BBC News Magazine ran a video piece, featuring an attempt made with Geoff Marshall and Anthony Smith, from 28 March 2013.[36]

Other previous attempts have included a Cambridge University student[37] and a pub landlord from Reading in 2006,[38] a man raising money for Tearfund in 2010,[39] two teenagers from Leighton Buzzard in 2011[40] and two teenagers, Samuel Coop and Alex Williamson, from Sutton in February 2012.[41]

Record holder Geoff Marshall organised a mass-participant charity attempt 'Walk the tube' that took place in April 2014,[42] and again in 2015.

On 15 April 2015 Julie Rogers from Bedford became the first single-legged amputee to complete the challenge. London 2012 Paralympian Julie, was part of a team including Olympian Judoka Kelly Edwards, Ian Byers and Simon Cox .[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fastest Time to Travel to all Underground Stations". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  2. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (10th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1962. p. 191. 
  3. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (8th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1960. p. 183. 
  4. ^ a b The Guinness Book of Records (11th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1964. p. 190. 
  5. ^ a b The Guinness Book of Records (12th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1965. p. 200. 
  6. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (14th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1967. p. 137. 
  7. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (15th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1969. p. 175. 
  8. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (17th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1970. p. 137. 
  9. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (16th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1969. p. 183. 
  10. ^ The Guinness Book of Records (27th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1980. p. 143. 
  11. ^ Guinness Book of Records (29th Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1982. p. 145. 
  12. ^ The Guinness Book of Records 1987 (33rd Edition). Guinness Superlatives Ltd. 1986. p. 132. 
  13. ^ Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 1993. p. 125. 
  14. ^ The New Guinness Book of Records. Guinness Publishing Ltd. 1996. p. 124. 
  15. ^ Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2002. p. 186. 
  16. ^ a b c Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2008. p. 198.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "gbr2008" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  17. ^ "New record set on the tube". Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 July 2002. 
  18. ^ "Every Tube station in 18 hours". Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 September 2004. 
  19. ^ "Tube station visit record broken". BBC News. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 29 September 2004. 
  20. ^ "Going down the tubes". Evening Standard. 17 October 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Richard's going underground on charity mission". This Is Plymouth. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2011. [will] attempt to dethrone Andi, Martin Hazel and Steve Wilson who set the benchmark on December 14, 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "How to do the Tube Challenge". Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "New world record for Denton man who travelled to all 270 London tube stations in under 17 hours". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "London Tube Station Visiting Record Broken". BBC News. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  25. ^ "New world record for Tube Challenges". Londonist. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "For the record, world was enthusiats's Oyster card". Brighton Argus. 21 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  27. ^ "Sutton woman to tackle every tube station in London for charity". Sutton Guardian. July 10, 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  28. ^ "Pudsey Challenge 2010". BBC Sunderland. November 12, 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  29. ^ "Going Underground". Sunderland Echo. January 26, 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  30. ^ "Aiming to misbehave". March 14, 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  31. ^ "Tube challenge for bomb charity". BBC News. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  32. ^ "Visiting 270 London Underground stations in one day". Purple Frog. 14 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-04-24. 
  33. ^ "Absolute Radio Presenter Aiming to Smash London Tube Record". Guinness World Records. 
  34. ^ "Richie's Tube Challenge". Absolute Radio. 
  35. ^ "Richie Completes The Tube Challenge". Absolute Radio. 
  36. ^ "Tube challenger pulls out all the stops in latest record attempt". BBC News. 
  37. ^ "Tube triumph". Bristol Evening Post. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  38. ^ "Barking Berks – Going Underground". BBC Berkshire Online. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  39. ^ "Guinness world record attempt goes down the tube". North Devon Journal. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  40. ^ "On track for a tube world record task". Leighton Buzzard Observer. 11 December 2011. 
  41. ^ "Tube Stop Challenge". Sutton Guardian. 25 February 2012. 
  42. ^ "Couple tackle Tube Challenge". Waltham Forest Guardian. 4 April 2014. 
  43. ^ Bedford Today. 8 April 2014  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]