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The Tube Challenge is the accepted name for the Guinness World Record ('GWR') for visiting all London Underground stations in the shortest time possible, of which there are currently 270. Partakers who attempt to break the record are known as Tube Challengers.

The Tube Challenge however takes the best part of 18 hours so instead of attempting the whole network, 'mini challenges' that require doing a smaller number of stations have also become popular.

Zone 1 Challenge

Geographically based map of the London Underground in Zone 1
The Zone 1 Challenge involves visiting all the 64 stations which make up Travelcard Zone 1 of the underground network. The current fastest time is 2 hours, 42 minutes and 22 seconds, achieved by John Stark and Jamie Brown on 17 July 2008.

The Zone 1 challenge has become increasingly popular ever since Scotsman Ewan Spence organised a Zone 1 challenge event through his blog, wanting 'one last crazy thing to do before leaving London for Scotland' in 2004. This attracted the attention of Geoff Marshall, who helped promote the challenge through his website. It was also featured in an article on BBC London News.

There has been one specific major 'Zone 1 meet' per year since, where groups of people simultaneously attempt the Zone 1 challenge, all starting from the same point but finishing wherever they wish.
Year Date Number of Teams Total Competitors Won By Winning Time Starting Station Stations Closed
2004 30 July 9 14 Steve Paull 2:55:50 Vauxhallmarker
2005 20 May 18 28 Håkan Wolgé and Patrick Sillén 2:58:37 St. James's Parkmarker Queenswaymarker
2006 19 May 16 32 Ric Brackenbury, David Scard and Andrew Baker 2:51:54 Sloane Squaremarker Queensway
2007 18 May 19 35 John Stark 2:47:30 Westminstermarker Regent's Parkmarker
2008 30 May 21 42 Håkan Wolgé, Patrick Sillén and Lars Andersson 2:55:32 King's Cross St. Pancrasmarker
2009 29 May 18 36 Andi James & Garion Allen 2:52:59 Angelmarker Blackfriarsmarker

Random 15 Challenge

In the Random 15 challenge, fifteen random stations, usually in Zones 1-2, are chosen, with the competitors initially knowing only the starting station. When the stopwatch is started, each entrant or team opens an envelope containing the list of stations to be visited. Thus the route has to be planned while the clock is running. The first to visit all fifteen stations is the winner.

Since stations are randomly drawn and are different at each Random 15 event the length isn't certain. As such no "record" time can be held with each event being stand-alone, the challenge being to beat the other teams competing at the same time as you.

Alternately to a Random 15 one may partake in a random 12 challenge where 12 stations are chosen instead of 15. In fact any number of stations may be picked as long as all competators agree.

Circle "Bottle" Challenge

The Circle Line "Bottle" Challenge involves visiting all 50 stations which are on and appear within the Circle Line on the current London Underground Map. The 50 stations are all the underground stations in zone 1 with the exception of: Aldgate East, Angel, Borough, Earl's Court, Elephant & Castle, Euston, Lambeth North, London Bridge, Old Street, Paddington (Hammersmith & City), Pimlico, Sothwark, Vauxhall and Waterloo.

During 2006 there was a dispute as to whether there are 48 or 50 stations, as Marylebonemarker and Edgware Road marker stations appear within the Circle Line on some maps, but outside on others. Whilst Edgware Road station is geographically within the cirlce line boundary, Marylebone station isn't. It was decided by a vote of partakers of the Challenge that since both appeared inside on the newer maps that they both count towards the challenge.

The current fastest time is 1 hour, 52 minutes and 55 seconds, achieved by John Stark.

All Lines Challenge

The "All Lines" Challenge - the objective of this challenge is to travel at least one stop on each of the London Underground lines in the shortest time possible. The current fastest time is 33 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved by Steven Karahan and Matthew Scrivin on the current eleven line system. Prior to the closure of the East London Line in December 2007, Chris Presswell held the record at 52 minutes and one second for the former twelve line network.

Alphabet Challenge

In The Alphabet challenge people are required to visit 1 station in the alphabetical sequence from A-W there being no J,X,Y,Z stations.The current fastest official time for this 5 hours 0 minutes and 44 seconds achieved by Evan Thorne & Dave Salvo.

Tube Olympics

A mini-festival of Alternative challenges was introduced in 2008, dubbed the "Tube Olympics" (to coincide with the 2008 Beijing Games), featuring five alternative challenges alongside a multiple-World Record attempt in the space of 2 weeks; attracting the highest entry outside of the 'Zone 1 meets' in the process. It is intended that this will be repeated every four years, as with the Olympic Games themselves.


  1. Ewan Spence's blog
  2. Geoff Marshall's pages on the Zone 1 Challenge

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