The point was, I hadn't actually planned on attempting the challenge so soon again - at least until next year (2003), because I was obviously getting bit sick of it, and I thought as well that I could possibly try and work out a better route as well.
All these thoughts though went out of the window when I was contacted by Mosaic Films - an independent TV production company, who had been commissioned by LU to make a six part TV documentary to be broadcast at the beginning of 2003.
So on rainy summers day a week before my 30th birthday in August, I met up with producer Dan who checked that I wasn't a train spotter, and before I knew it, he'd talked me into doing it all over again in September of 2002, so that it fitted in with their filming schedule which had to be completed in the next few weeks. And we agreed that they would film me attempting to do it all over again and use the footage as part of their programmes in the new year.
So there wasn't really time to plan a new route or change the existing one much, (although we did in the end make a couple of ad-hoc tweaks en route which gained us a few valuable seconds) so I just hoped that if I was to break the record, it would be through some better changes along the way, and maybe me running a bit faster between stations. I knew I wasn't going to be that disappointed though if I didn't beat the Jack Welsby record.
Are you Dave Gorman?
No, my name is not Dave Gorman, and although my mate Dave who did it with me this time shares Dave Gorman's first name, his surname is something completely different.
I was at Jono's wedding (Jono who was part of the gang that did it with me first time round) at the end of August when I got talking to his best man - Dave - and it turned out that he was a bit annoyed that we'd never asked him the first time round. 'Are you a tube geek then?' I asked a him jovially, (he appeared to be a bit pissed, so I was intrigued as to what his answer would be) 'Of course I am!' came the reply, and thus it was that a drunken Dave agreed to come with me as I did it for the third time this year.
So you started at Chesham again then?
We certainly did - only this time at 05:23 in the morning it was dark! It had been light on the previous two occasions. There was also definitely a feeling inside me which just thought "I can't bloody believe I'm doing this again", and yet once again here I was at the far reaches of the Metropolitan line.
There was also the pleasure of Joyce and Liz to keep me and Dave company - They were on the 'first shift' for the TV crew duties, and they soon got us used to the idea of having a camera shoved in your face for most of the day.
The day pretty much progressed as it had before as we stuck to the same route. I had the same log book with me that I'd used on the previous two occasions so I could compare if we were ahead or behind to the other two sets of times.
Ironically, at the end when I looked back at all three attempts it turns out that right up until the bit where it went wrong at Richmond, the first time that we ever attempted it was in fact the fastest of the three attempts. It just makes me wonder what our time would have been if the Richmond branch hadn't of failed on us that day.
You could therefore possibly speculate that we came closest to doing it on that first occasion when me missed out three stations.
The picture here (right) is us quite early on looking a bit knackered at West Harrow station.
Why? Well because we'd just run down from North Harrow in about 6 minutes flat.
I'd warned Dave about this first run - in fact I'd warned him about all the running that we'd be doing during the day - but it's not until you're actually doing it that you realise how tiring it is.
Smugly though, I have to say that when this self-timered photo was taken at 7am in the morning, I was feeling 'Ok', whereas Dave was sweating like a pig!
The Goodge Street Photo
I have no real idea why this bench on the northbound platform at Goodge Street has become such a marking point, but I guess after we had the first 'group photo' here on the first attempt it always made sense to take a photo here.
I've always had the time as well - a Northern Line train has never been sitting waiting for me here, so I've always felt compelled to take a photo.
One of these days I'm going to get the urge to pay homage to it. Goodge Street station is only about a 5 minute walk from my office where I work, so I keep meaning to pop back down here during the lunch hour and take picture of myself in normal work clothes just for the hell of it.
The TV Crew
What of course gave the whole day a completely different spin is that we were being recorded on camera for most of it!
The TV crews didn't follow us everywhere - I'd just given them our planned route and they went ahead to get shots of as pelting it down escalators and corridors etc.
Most amusing was when Dan suddenly appeared at Green Park station mid morning, and I had to resist the urge to go 'Oh hi Dan!' and concentrate on getting the train instead of smiling at the camera. Oh, I'm such a pro. So this is Joyce and Liz who were with us for the first part of the day.
They also got four hours sleep and were thrilled - no really - to get up with us at 4am to get that first Chesham train. And when I say 'get up with us', then all of you with dirty minds out there can get that thought out of your head right now. Obviously the cameras and camera crew generated a lot of attention which meant it felt like I was handing out my pieces of pre-prepared paper to answer people's natural question 'What are you doing?' more than ever. Getting on a rush-hour packed Northern line train through the city at 08.30 in the morning with camera crew in tow certainly generates a lot of attention.
Ahead, behind and ahead again
It's funny how the whole day does goes well one moment, and then totally crap the next.
When we had to wait for the bus at Edgware to take us to Stanmore we were fifteen minutes down on the two previous attempts.
It's really depressing because you think 'How on earth are we going to make all that time back?'. Well, faster moving Piccadilly Line trains help for a start!
For some reason, on the stretch up to Cockfosters, the train simply traveled faster on either of the two occasions that it had before, and by the time we got the bus over to High Barnet and were coming back down the Northern Line, we were five minutes ahead of both the previous two attempts!
I also learnt my lesson from the second time and made sure that when we came to the central line loop (Hainault, etc..) I went to Epping first, and then change at Woodford and do the loop on the way back down. If you ever decide to try the challenge yourself, this is one tip which I'm happy to give away. It's just faster doing it this way. Trust me.
There's no F in train
There isn't - really. Spell it.. "T", "r", "a", "i" and a "n". No "F" that I can see anywhere in that word. And so it turned out that there weren't any 'effing trains towards the later stages of the day. Everything had been going pretty well - even when at Wimbledon when a whole bunch of my friends turned up to deliver us some food, and they told me to get on the wrong train... (thanks guys) And I had to have the indignity of having Dan shoving a camera in my face again and asked 'How do I feel?' as we all watched another district line train leave first from the other platform. Answer to Dan: How did you THINK I felt at the point!'
Despite this, we still made a good connection at Earl's Court to Olympia on the District and and I was feeling confident that we could still do it. After that though, although nothing went wrong per se it just seemed that we didn't get any good connections anymore. Instead of waiting just 2 or 3 minutes for trains, it seemed that we had to wait 7, 8 or 9 minutes each time instead. So by the time that we're coming down the Piccadilly Line from Rayners Lane heading for Acton Town I know that we're behind, but I'm too chicken to look in my log book and see how far behind we are from previous occasions.
I must have passed the 'patience' test though, and my reward was that we got a good change at Acton Town, waved good-bye to the TV crew who we would meet up again at Paddington, and jumped back onto the Piccadilly Line to go to Heathrow.
The good old Piccadilly line ... which had thwarted us on previous occasions now conspired to travel much faster than it had ever done before, and by the time I did check the logbook I discovered that we were actually about 10 minutes ahead of my previous time!
The final stretch
We needed to beat my previous time by 15 minutes though if were going to make the record. At Paddington we went down the H&C to Hammersmith - scene of much swearing last time - and I exorcised this demon by having a very pleasant change where we had a good whole minute to change around, and no kicking of drainpipes or swearing at the top of my voice took place.
In fact, we had so much time here, that we managed to get to the front of the train instead which meant that we could change at Goldhawk Road instead to run across Shepherd's Bush green to the Central line, and saved ourselves two minutes.
But In the end ...
... we didn't do it.
The changes just didn't come as fast as we would have liked. If there had been a train straight away at Shepherd's Bush it would have helped - but we had to wait 4 minutes, and then at Bank for changing to the northern line we had to wait 6 minutes - that's just the problem with relying on trains so late in the day, they're just not frequent enough. If we'd of just got lucky though and there'd of been a train as we arrived at the platform, then ... maybe!
So a rather depressing moment came at went between Tooting Broadway and Tooting Bec as the magic world record time slipped by and we got into Morden 9 minutes after that - which I should still add knocked 4 minutes of my own previous best time! So that was some small consolation.
Morden as usual then by 1am, and in the small wee hours it looked pretty much as it always did - except for one vaguely spooky thing which happened - I bumped into an old teacher from school!
My art teacher who taught me at my grammar school when I was 14 years old was there working as platform staff and tipping out the drunks who'd fallen asleep on the benches. So hello again Mr. Jeffries if you're reading this. A lovely Welsh man, to whom my only question is - why did he quit being a teacher and is now working for London Underground?
Dan and Ian (pictured here) the two TV guys then spent about half an hour filming loads of stuff with us - getting off trains, walking up the platform, writing the final time in the logbook, etc.. plus a particularly contrived moment getting into a taxi outside of the station.
Amusingly enough when we did go to drive away for real, Dan had to come running up afterwards and stopped as again, as I still had the radio mic. Which I'd had attached to me all day still in my pocket and clipped to the inside of my shirt. Damn! Almost got away with nicking it!
You know that Madness song "(Waiting for) the ghost train" - well I got a picture of it ... quite by chance. I didn't mean to take such a cool picture at Stepney Green, or quite what the setting was on my camera that enabled the photo to come out like this but I think it's quite cool.
I should point out that this was an Ealing Broadway bound district line train coming into the platform towards us (which we caught) and NOT going out of the station which is what it initially looks like from the photograph!
And finally ... So to everyone then that asks the question - 'So when is it going to be on TV then?' - well all the TV company will tell me at the moment is that it's going to be a six part series on ITV in January / February of next year (2003).
Tube 3 stats:
Stations visited: 275/275
Start time: 05:22.36 Finish time: 00:51.49
Time taken: 19h, 29m, 13s
Jack Welsby's Record 19h, 18m, 45s
Missed the world record by: 10 minutes, 28 seconds
Number of people: 2
Support team: 7
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
Friday 17th May 2002
And we're back! Alive and just about in one piece having spent just under 20 hours on tube trains all day on Friday 17th May.
And so, the big question that you're asking is did we do it ... yes?
Well, good news and bad news - The bad news for us is that no, we didn't. We managed to do only 272 out of the 275 stations - i.e. we missed out just three stations!
But it was through no fault of our own - there was a signal failure on the Richmond branch of the District line which meant that we couldn't do Gunnersbury, Kew Gardens and Richmond.
The good news is that most people have already indicated to us that they're prepared to pay us the full amount that they sponsored us for in the first place, and furthermore we've decided that the route we have (which we're keeping secret for the moment!) is so close to working that we're going to have another crack at doing it in a few weeks time!