I'm the current Guinness World Record Holder for travelling around all 270 London Underground stations in the fastest time person.
Having held the record (on my seventh attempt) in 2004, it was beaten in 2006, and took me until 2013 to regain the title at my twenty-fifth attempt.
The very first challenge was back in May of 2002, but it wasn't until attempt number seventh two years later in May 2004 to set a new record time of 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds. - for 275 stations.
My ninth attempt was part of the Tube Relief 'We are not afraid' mass-participation charity attempt.
In 2011 on Tube 14 we go the second fastest time ever in the current configuration, before changes to Kensington (Olympia) made the challenge harder than ever. During that time we had the fastesttime for completion of all 270 stations in a day (Tube 21) when a non-exhibition Olympia service was running.
In March 2013, BBC News Online came out and filmed our Tube 23 attempt around the network.
Using the publicity from the new record time, we organised an attempt (Tube 26) where we led a group of 20 people around the whole network, raising money for various charities.
Write ups of attempts: Tube 1 : Tube 2 : Tube 3 : Tube 4 : Tube 5 : Tube 6 : Tube 7 (World Record)
Tube 8 : Tube 9 (Tube Relief) : Tube 10 : Tube 11 : Tube 12 : Tube 13 : Tube 14 : Tube 15 : Tube 16 : Tube 17 : Tube 18: Tube 19 : Tube 20 : Tube 21 : Tube 22 : Tube 23 : Tube 24 : Tube 25 (Second World Record) : Tube 26 ('Walk the tube' charity event)
In the Media
My third and fourth attempts were both featured on TV. My third attempt was featured as part of the ITV programme 'The Tube' - a general documentary about the London Underground. We appeared in an episode called '24 hours', which was later sold to Sky Travel and often gets repeated on TV this to day.
My next attempt was the also on TV - this time, an entire half an hour documentary featured solely on us and our attempt to get round in the fastest time. The programme was part of the series of 'Metroland' documentaries for ITV, and was called 'Race Around the Underground'. To my knowledge this has never been repeated on TV, which is a shame because I think it's the better programme out of the two.
In 2013 when London Underground was celebrating 150 years of the Tube, the BBC got in touch to know if I'd do an attempt as part of a series of videos they were making about the Underground, and so they came out and filmed attempt number twenty three.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the tube in London on July 7th 2005, I organised a mass-participation tube challenge event with over 60 people taking part from all over the world. It was not a proper record attempt, but an act of solidarity and defiance to say and show that we were not afraid. We called it Tube Relief (It has its own website at www.tuberelief.co.uk) and we raised several thousands of pounds towards the official charity for the victims and families of those affected in the tragedy.
I held the record for two years between 2004 and 2006 and now again from 2013 onwards, but there are many other challengers who have attemped this! Several groups of people have got the record time as the tube network has changed over the years, so I've made here a full list of all the other world-record holding challengers and how the number of stations has changed over the years.
Zone 1 Only
From the main challenge of doing all the stations on the network, a lot of smaller less-intensive alternative challenges have sprung up and are competed my people on a regular basis. They often involve doing a smaller number of stations so that the challenge can be completed in just a few hours - not all day.
BBC news made a short film of us doing the Zone 1 challenge in 2004, and I made a short-video myself when I attempted it in 2008, both on the Zone 1 page here.
'TubeFail' is the expression I used myself a lot on the day of a challenge when a problem on the Underground has caused us problem - and thus cost us getting the new record time. We made nine attempts prior to 2006, then I had three years of not-challenging, and many attempts from 2010 onwards. Here's a list of if a 'TubeFail' day cost us the record or not. The percentage that the tube system has held up the entire day is staggeringly low ...
Attempts between 2005-2006
Tube 1 - Tube Fail The Richmond branch was down when we got there, unable to complete whole network
Tube 2 - Tube OK No major problems, just turned out we didn't have a good route
Tube 3 - Tube OK Still the same not-very-good route as last time
Tube 4 - Tube Fail Northern Line stuck at Golders Green and de-training at Camden Town, Northern Line delays
Tube 5 - Tube Fail The Central Line broke, stuck at Debden with no explanation. Massive wait for Hainault train
Tube 6 - Tube Fail Points failure East Finchley, High Barnet branch broken
Tube 7 -Tube OK Got the Record! Good route, despite one cancelled train, still made it round [18h 35m 43s]
Tube 8 - Tube Fail Points failure at Marylebone. Bakerloo line crawled, delayed - no joy
Tube 9 - Tube OK No major problems, but this was the Tube Relief effort. Faster time, if we had been going for it?
4 out of 9 attempts the tube held up, just 44% of the time
Attempts between 20010-2011 with a regular Olympia service
Tube 10 - Tube OK It all worked! Just not the best route - we had a 13 minute wait at Hainault for example - 17h 8m 42s
Tube 11 - Tube Fail The Circle/H&C broke in the evening, no Olympia train (cancelled?), 16:27 would have been possible instead... [269 stations (Olympia missed) 16h 50m 5s]
Tube 12 - Tube Fail The Watford train was late, then the Piccadilly up to Cockfosters crawled/dreadfully slow we then had to miss the Richmond branch or we'd have never of made it to Heathrow [267 stations, 17h 29m 31s]
Tube 13 - Tube Fail District line SPAD at 9am breaks everything, and we don't even make it to Heathrow [259 stations]
Tube 14 - Tube OK Only a delayed C2c train that let us down, for our best time yet [270 completion 16h 38m 41s]
Tube 15 - Tube Fail Piccadilly Line on Heathrow branch right at end messed everything up, until then we were on for a World Record time of 16:28 until things broke and we finished late. [270 completion 16h 58m 15s]
Tube 16 - Tube Fail The Piccadilly broke in the morning, we bailed at Park Royal to Hanger Lane, put us behind and we never did the Richmond or Heathrow branch in the end [249 stations]
Tube 17 - Tube Fail A Chiltern Train fail, had a knock on effect, and then so many tubes just ran slowly with big gaps in service during the day that time was just eroded away, and got over an hour behind. [Abandoned / 202 stations]
3 out of 8 attempts the tube held up, just 37% of the time
Attempts between 2012-2013 with no regular Olympia service
Tube 18 - Tube Fail "The worst tube service ever". No Mets past Harrow-on-the Hill at the start [Abandoned / 89 stations]
Tube 19 - Tube Fail Moor Park connection late, then Richmond branch went down and had to re-route, meaning in the end we missed Heathrow Terminal 4. [269 stations in 16h 45m]
Tube 20 - Tube Fail Moor Park points broke, District all over the place, H&C/Circle iffy, broken Central Line train
Tube 21 - Tube Fail A cancelled Wimbledon train, and withdrawn Upminster train, yet still made a fast time [270 completion in 16h 43m 37s]
Tube 22 - Tube Fail Absolute Radio attempt, not really trying, and Olympia not running when it said it would be. [269 stations (No Olympia) in 18h 8m 23s]
Tube 23 - Tube Fail Central Line broke, Queensway signal failure, put us terribly behind and never recovered. [269 stations (No Olympia) in 17h 24m 57s]
Tube 24 - Tube Fail Signal failure on the District at Putney Bridge. A missing Northern Line train at Edgware. Signalling issues at KX on the Northern delayed us too. We were on for a record time of 16 hours, 16 minutes until it broke. [270 completion on 16h 39m 38s - and set the fastest ever time for a non-Olympia day service]
Tube 25 - Tube OK. It all worked! There were minor delays on the Piccadilly but it didn't effect us. World Record Time. [16h 20m 27s] - but done one one of the few days of the year now that did have a regular Olympia service
1 out of 8 attempts the tube held up, just 13% of the time
Tube 26 - Walk the Tube charity attempt, not going for the record - just getting round all 270 stations.