The Tube Challenge is the competition for the fastest time to travel to all London Underground stations, tracked as a Guinness World Record since 1960. The goal is to visit all the stations on the system, not necessarily all the lines; 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 printed edition of the Guinness Book of Records. The record did not appear in the book until its eighth edition.
|March 1960||George Hurst and Jane Barwick||264||18 hours, 35 minutes|
|9 September 1961||J Birch, B Phillips and 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 and 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 Trafford and Stephen Trafford||278||18 hours, 3 minutes|
|3 December 1981||Colm Mulvany||277||17 hours, 37 minutes|
|14 April 1986||Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, John Garde and Timothy John Clark||272||19 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds|
|30 July 1986||Robert Robinson, Peter David Robinson, Timothy Robinson, Timothy Clark and Richard Harris||272||18 hours, 41 minutes, 41 seconds|
|4 October 1994||Robert Robinson and 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|
|26 September 2006||Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson||275||18 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds|
|1 October 2013||Geoff Marshall and Anthony Smith ||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 twice appeared in printed form, in the 2008 edition, and then the 2015 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. 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 it 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 275 stations that it appeared in the Guinness World Records Book 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 total number of stations meant that the record was 'reset' and broken three more times over a two-year period until Wood Lane station opened in October 2008, and the network settled at 270 stations.
The first holders of the 270-station record were Andi James, Martin Hazel and Steve Wilson who, on 14 December 2009, achieved a record time of 16 hours, 44 minutes and 16 seconds. 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.
The 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 37 days later, when James and Wilson completed the challenge in just 44 seconds under Gawley's time, setting a new record of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 13 seconds on 27 May 2011.
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, the record time was then published for the first time in seven years in the Guinness World Records in the 2015 edition.
Clive Burgess and Ronan McDonald set a new Guinness world record time of 16 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds on 21 February 2015. The record was broken later that year, on 21 May, by previous record holders Andi James and Steve Wilson, in a time of 15 hours 45 minutes 38 seconds.
Attempts to travel the network 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. A Sue Ryder charity event took place in November 2011, when ten teams competed against each other to have their photo taken outside as many of the 270 stations as possible. Former record holder Geoff Marshall subsequently organised a mass-participant events in 2014, 2015 and 2016, called "Walk The Tube", raising tens of thousands of pounds in the process.
- Alwakeel, Ramzy (6 January 2016). "Tube challenger reclaims world record for trip around all 270 stations". Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
270 Tube stops in 15 hours and 45 minutes … Mr Wilson … and Mr James’s new record has taken eight months for Guinness World Records to ratify – the pair actually completed their run in May last year.
- "Fastest time to travel to all London Underground stations". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
15 hr 45 min 38 sec, and was achieved by Andy James (Finland) and Steve Wilson (UK) in London, UK, on 21 May 2015.
- 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.
- Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2008. p. 198.
- Guinness Book of Records. Guinness World Records. 2015. p. 198.
- "New record set on the tube". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2002.
- "Every Tube station in 18 hours". Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
- "Tube station visit record broken". BBC News. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 29 September 2004.
- "Going down the tubes". Evening Standard. 17 October 2003. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "Richard's going underground on charity mission". This Is Plymouth. 4 February 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
[will] attempt to dethrone Andi James, Martin Hazel and Steve Wilson who set the benchmark on December 14, 2009.
- "How to do the Tube Challenge". Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "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.
- "London Tube Station Visiting Record Broken". BBC News. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "New world record for Tube Challenges". Londonist. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "For the record, world was enthusiats's Oyster card". Brighton Argus. 21 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
- "Pudsey Challenge 2010". BBC Sunderland. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
- "Going Underground". Sunderland Echo. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
- "Aiming to misbehave". 14 March 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
- "Tube challenge for bomb charity". BBC News. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
- "Visiting 270 London Underground stations in one day". Purple Frog. 14 November 2011. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012.
- "Tube 26 - Walk The Tube 2014". Geofftech. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2018.