Well, finally made it, today is the day when over 65 people from across the UK and overseas will be travelling to every station on the London Underground to raise money for the victims of London's attacks and also to show the world that they're happy to travel the Tube - "just for the hell of it". No record attempts today - even though the event is organised by co-bloggers, Geoff n Neil - the current Guinness World Record Holders who in May 2004 visited all 275 stations in 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds.
Today, this blog will attempt to follow the experienced tube-challengers and novices alike, from their 6am meet up at Amersham London Underground Station and give updates on their progress as they travel around the whole tube system in just one day, finishing in Upminster at about 1.30am on Friday morning! Regular updates - with photos, radio interviews and other coverage will be made, so keep visiting to find out the latest, and do give them a wave or say hello if you see them on your travels today.
Let's get Quizzical
OK, lets see how what sort of a tube challenger you would make? As they're all travelling the London Underground for a good few hours yet and won't be able to answer these questions themselves, you should all be in with a good chance. (Update - well all the challengers are back now, so just to say the quiz is also open to them - with the exception of Geoff and Neil) Just to make it a bit interesting there's a couple of prizes on offer too - you have to get all questions correct, in one attemptand then give a caption to two pictures. The two people with all answers correct and who are then judged to give the best captions will win either a copy of One Stop Short of Barking - Uncovering the London Underground OR Poems NOT on the Underground - A parody by Straphanger.
Answers in the comments please and you need to leave an email address to enter (how else will I know how to contact you about the prizes?) Obviously neither Neil or Geoff can take part.
2. The challenge started today at Amersham. Who wrote The Amersham Song?
3. The tubechallengers can use any form of public transport to get certain stations rather than go back on themselves. Where might you need to use a tram on the Tube Challenge?
4. Who are the only people to have ever recorded times for the Alphabet Tube Challenge? - ie beginning at a london underground station that starts with 'A' then moving on to one that starts with 'B' etc etc until you reach 'W'
5. Where are Geoff's recommended places to go to toilet during the challenge? (particularly for number twos)
6. Who set up the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund?
7. How much are the challengers hoping to raise for the Fund?
8. The challenge ends at Upminster station at about 1.30 in the morning. Where is the nearest night bus to Upminster?
9. Of all of the tube stations the challengers will be travelling around today - which is the only one does not contain any of the letters from the word "mackerel" in it?
10. The tie breaker question - please give a caption for
Lots of people have been emailing us to ask if there is any video footage of the event and there is some by Lukas Hopwood here. Video 4 and Video 5 are particularly good as you see Lukas and Bjorn just missing their trains by seconds and in Video 5 which is a bit longer there's footage of them running past buskers at the top of an escalator. Be warned there's a bit of frustrated "language" in some of them!
Also Norman Driskell is making a video of the whole event from start to finish and ws interviewing most of the challengers at the party on Saturday night (see below). So watch this space for details as to when or how that can be viewed.
UPDATE Saturday 27th August - THERE AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A TUBE RELIEF PARTY
No Tube Challenge would be a Tube Challenge without a party afterwards for everyone to swap stories, compare routes, and generally eat drink and be merry. This was no exception and we had a brilliant follow up party on Saturday night. We had the whole pub (The George - well chosen venue, Neil) to ourselves from 7pm and it quickly filled up.
What we did learn from chatting to people at the party was that there was much more publicity for Tube Relief that we originally thought - particularly on TV in London. People's friends said they saw it on BBC London TV several times. It was also mentioned on Capital Radio FM (one of London's largest radio stations). Someone said they also believed there was a small mention in Metro as we had originally been very surprised they hadn't seemed to have picked it up. If anyone saw or heard Tube Relief on any other London or national media could you let us know please through the comments. Cheers!
Geoff will also be on BBC World Service at some point on Wednesday 31st August. This is absolutely fantastic news and will give the challenge a worldwide audience (and hopefully more sponsors) after the event. Apparently the interviewer was signing him to slow down when speaking, so we're all looking forward to hearing that!!
Challenger Tube Map auction
The giant map was on display of any challengers to sign who had missed the signing on the 25th (so I quickly scribbled Annie Mole at Richmond). The map which had singatures of all participants will be auctioned on e-bay next week, with the funds going to the London Bombings Relief Fund.
We also got a chance to see polaroids of the people who checked in at the Euston pitstop with their time of arrival.
Before food was served Geoff announced there would be fun and game afterwards with the prize giving for various achievements over the challenge and a tube map game. In the meantime we were able to chat, fill our faces and listen to Geoff's train and tube related mix of toons and music.
It's not who you may be thinking, (our resident media whore Geoff), but we felt that one person had not only managed to get front page story on his local paper but also the resulting mention on his local radio's news the next day was a great achievement. So the prize went to 14 year old Jonny Lyon.
We also have a late entry for best PR from Paul Fraser-Webb and have decided to give an extra prize to Paul for managing to get on his local paper's billboard. Good call Paul
I'll try to get a book across to Geoff so he can let you have it later in the week.
Although a lot of the challengers bought the official T Shirt, some wore others appropriate ones or designed their own. Although it was a case of slightly keeping it in the family we felt that Tina Marshall - aka Geoff's mum, deserved the prize for her great hand painted effort.
Coincidentally we had managed to give a prize to the youngest challenger Jonny Lyon earlier, but we also wanted to give a prize to the oldest challenger, just to show that the challenge was great for the young and old. So it went to 63 year old Jeremy.
Jeremy's shown here with a large print tube map, which not only was useful for him on the day, it also proved to be really interesting to challengers afterwards who had been looking for a large free map to chart their own routes on.
A strange category we know, but no tube challenge is complete without sore feet, aching backs, black bogey syndrome and tired muscles. However, we felt that the best injury should go to Chris Searle who got his head stuck in the train door as he was so desperate to take a photo of the Bromley-by-Bow roundel that he neglected to see these big sliding things coming towards his head! Ouch!
Most sponsorship raised to date
Obviously funds are still coming in for Tube Relief, but we wanted to give a prize to the person who had raised the most so far. We could only judge this by looking at the Justgiving webpages and seeing how much people had raised on them (however, we know that some people are using the old paper sponsorship form route). So the prize went to Sam Cawley who has already raised an amazing £1,375 pounds (I think it's actually higher than that now as she hadn't updated her page last night).
Furthest journey in to do the challenge
I don't think anyone actually lived in Amersham where the challenge began at 6am on Thursday morning, so everyone had quite a journey to get there. But no one could beat Police Captain Tami Brisset who travelled in from New Orleans! Excellent effort!
Fastest Time to visit all 274 stations
Tube Relief was mainly about fundraising and showing the world that people weren't afraid to spend a day travelling around the London Underground system "just for the hell of it". Ordinarily the tube challenge is about seeing who can do it in the fastest time, so we felt we ought to acknowledge Tim and Tugs for doing this in 19 hours 10 minutes.
Best stories of the day
There were loads of funny stories and strange drivers announcements throughout the day, but in the end the prizes went to the following:
Alan Pryor is part of Team Billy and actually works for the London Underground at Earl's Court Control room. Towards the close of the evening his team were getting a bit weary and fancied a cup of tea. So Alan got in touch with his colleagues and arranged for five cups of tea to be delivered to the station they were arriving at.
Apprarently it caused a slight delay to the District Line, but the "5 very tired challengers who were waiting for their cups of tea to be bought down by an un-named member of staff." said "And a damned fine cup of tea it was too!"
Chris (Moley) and Phil
Although the challengers were officially allowed to collect funds while travelling on the tube (they had flyers advertising what they were doing so people could donate in their own time), Chris and Phil found money being thrust into their hands from an unlikey source - a beggar.
The beggar on the train had asked them what they were doing and he said "Oh well done guys. I make a lot of money out of the begging on the tube and it was awful what happened at Russell Square, here, have a fiver". Obviously Chris and Phil turned his kind offer down, but we bet that's the first time a beggar has tried to give money to the train's passengers!
David Scard & Ric
David Scard and Ric arrived at Finchley Central on a High Barnet train which then departed.
They spoke to the station assistant (SA) to enquire when the next Mill Hill East train was, which was described as 19 minutes. This would really affect their progress getting back, so they looked very disappointed, as they had told him about the challenge. The SA then went away, (unbeknown to them, spoke to the control room) and came back and told them that the next train to arrive would be re-routed to Mill Hill East in 2 minutes time.
When it arrived, the driver announced the sudden change and massess of people poured off the train to await a High Barnet service and five people got on the train to Mill Hill East!!!!! How amazing is that????
We opened up the prizes to the floor in case anyone else had any other stories that we hadn't heard of. I can't remember now for the life of me what we ended up giving him a prize for, but sheer audacity and record number of attempts at saying "what about this?", "what about this?" we gave a prize to Pete - mainly to shut him up!
Pin the station on the tube map
We then played a variant of "pin the tail on the donkey". Geoff had printed up a giant tube map with all the station names removed. The party split into teams of two and had to pick a station name from the hat and they had five seconds to put that station name in the correct place on the map. This proved to be surprisingly difficult considering you would have thought they knew the system like the back of their hands. Even Geoff didn't get his one correct - and it was his game!!!
Fundraising to date
Obviously money is still coming in, but we wanted to give the challengers an idea of how much had come in so far from the Justgiving pages, as this is the only way we have at the moment, at knowing what was raised. As of 27th August we had raised £10,890 - so that's almost eleven thousand pounds not including money that people have on their traditonal paper sponsorship forms, plus money that will be coming in over the weeks to come. We feel sure that we will at least get to our target of twenty thousand pounds - and if you would like to help us reach that, please visit this page to sponsor someone online. Many thanks.
I need to get some more vitamin C inside me now as I'm getting the beginnings of a cold (it's not a hangover, honest guv)!
But I'm sure you'll see many other reports of the party around the net and you can also check out the pictures in the ever-growing flickr group for Tube Relief.
UPDATE Friday 26th August - Post Challenge publicity
In case you didn't know, Geoff has been out and about like the true media floozy he is, getting more interviews after the event which is all great news. Apparently he was on the BBC World Service at some point on Friday and also had interviews with other radio stations. We'll try to collate them all in one place eventually.
But we have another media star in the making with Jonny Lyon - not content with getting front page news in his local paper. Fourteen year old Jonny was also featured in his local radio station news - Mercia FM on Friday with news of him celebrating the challenge - you can listen here. Well done Jonny - and watch out Geoff!
Group Shot at Upminster - the end of a long day
More pictures from Helene of the very final parts of the day
Well it's been a very, very, very long day and the challengers are now reaching Upminster the final station and have been I suppose for the last half hour or so. They've then got the journey back home. Blimey.
I suppose it was impossible for me to report on the event without doing at least a bit of it myself, so at 9pm I decided to meet Geoff and Neil's team at Richmond station which is near to where I live. Originally I'd only planned to take a few pictures, take them some rubbish late night food (chocolate, crisps and jelly sweets) and go home, but tube challenging is somewhat infectious and I ended up spending about an hour with them. The results you can see below - (see the notes on the tube map here to see how much/little I did!)
Here they are getting out at Richmond on the far western end of the District Line
From here we had to take in quite a lot of stations at Heathrow and then head back East to the final destination of Upminster. You can get any form of public transport to take you from one tube station to another, so we got onto a South West Train heading for Feltham.
Here's the gang on the SWT platform:
Inside the train Geoff got a call from the Daily Express and went into Express Media Whorage:
I've no idea what was going on here. It as either Munch's The Scream or Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone
At Feltham station, walked briskly (some more briskly than others) down the road to get a bus to Heathrow or Hatton Cross Tube, whichever came first.
This would have been a good picture if Neil had been smiling
But then you can take smiling too far
We no thanks to me, cos I had to buy another ticket, we got onto the Piccadilly Line at Hatton Cross to do the Heathrow stations up to Acton Town (or Action Town as I always call it)
So we had a good few stops to chat about the days events
There was also a need for crisps and chocolate at this point with a lot of blurry hands diving into my Tesco goodie bag:
If you're of a sensitive nature I suggest you don't spend too long looking at the next picture:
This picture is wrong on so many counts that I don't know where to start. Certainly not at 1.30am anyway.
We left at Action Town and zoomed over to the platform for the District Line heading towards Ealing and there bumped into another of the teams who were planning to do the same as us. I quite like the tube challengly huddle under the clock:
At Ealing Broadway, I left them all to rush onto the Central Line train which would take them back into central London and east again. On the way back I experimented with snapping a few pictures of myself in the reflection of the window, but I wasn't really that happy with any of them, but the one below gives you an idea:
[9pm - Update] - The Support Team at Euston move on
We must thank the support team at Euston for an absolutely fantastic job of providing help and sustenance, moral support, uploading digital pictures, stopping us from getting in trouble with the police and a whole heap of other things that I'm sure will only reveal themselves in the next few days.
So here are the support team:
Jim, Helene, Catriona and Jan - you did a stirling job!
[8.58pm - Update] - Sam at Euston
[8.46pm - Update] - Barry Thomas Chris Toni Larry and Paul
[8.20pm - Update] - Another mobile phone picture from Team Billy - taken by Nikki Tysoe
Fortunately they did text an explanation for the rather cryptic picture below:
"The slight delay on the District line was caused by 5 very tired challengers who were waiting for their cups of tea to be bought down by an un-named member of staff. And a damned fine cup of tea it was too!"
[7.40pm - Update] - Stephen Knight's Pictures from the Morning
Stephen Knight (pictured right) didn't do the full challenge and went along mainly to take some photographs and he's just uploaded some good ones which show the challengers in action in the early morning when before they split into smaller teams and were still one large group:
I really love his first picture below:
and to show that it's not all sitting around in carriages and legging it up and down stairs and escalators:
[7.20pm - Update] - a pigeon flies in for the Euston pitstop
I was too busy devising the quiz to hear that Geoff was on the 6pm news on Virgin, the same piece will be on at 7pm and likely also to be on at 8pm and 9pm too. Adam Bowie from Virgin kindly sent me an mp3 but if you'd like to listen live, visit the station's website or tune into your radio!
Don't forget Geoff will also be on LBC FM live at 7.08pm
[5.18pm - Update] - Peter Miller arrives at Euston
[4.54pm - Update] - John, Peter & Statto at Euston
Well here's a mobile phone picture of Geoff n Neil's team. And if you missed the listen live recording on LBC AM you can hear a reasonable mp3 download here. If you hear a strange ringing at the end of it, that's my mobile phone going off with Geoff waiting to tell me that they got cut off and asking how the presenter finished it off! Well, he said "At least that proves they are in the Tube". But it sounds as if LBC want to return to our challengers later on so I'll try to keep you posted on this.
Apparently taking pictures at Goodge Street is a tradition amongst tube challengers, but I've no idea why....
[3.00pm - Update] - Interviews on LBC Radio
Just to give you some advance warning LBC AM will be talking to Geoff and the team at 3.15pm and LBC FM will be talking to them at 7.08pm (rather precise). My recording skills are shocking but I will try to record them. If not I think you should be able to listen live at the above times.
Also a reporter from Virgin Radio has been following quite a few teams round and not doubt this will be broadcast at some time later today.
[2.40pm - Update] - Billy Abbott "Cowfish" is updating his blog by mobile phone
Billy "man-of-many-names" Abbott is now updating his livejournal blog with highlight of their journey - so if you want to follow one team step by step - click here - it's very funny. Here's a few samples:
"1252 arse wrong bus...it goes to walthamstow, but not quite as fast as we hoped. looks like we may have to miss out a couple of stations (olympia and maybe mill hill east). we shall see.
why do jubilee line trains scream?
1050 on the hainault loop...time for a sit down and some food. i have packed too dense snacks...must get others to help eat them.
0628 left moor park for Watford waved at driver, got told to keep quiet by the station guy"
[2.15pm - Update] - Lukas and Bjorn have a rest at Euston
Some great online publicity in Londonist - one of my favourite London websites.
"Amersham tube station probably doesn't normally see that much business at 5 in the morning, so it may have come as a bit of surprise earlier today when 65 people turned up to begin their journey for Tube Relief."
[12.55pm - Update] - The Say Hello Wave Goodbye Man
The challengers themselves will know that the local press have been giving excellent coverage to them over the last week or so. They've been appearing on the front page of local papers, getting interviews on local radio and TV stations and generally spreading the word around the whole country and in the US.
Here's the latest piece of local coverage in the Bucks Free Press reporting on Jon Choo who much much earlier today - about 2.45am left a blog post before setting off for Amersham. It's interesting how this local paper have actually gone with a very "bloggy" angle.
"Mr Choo described himself as one of a "bunch of bloggers" people who publish their personal thoughts and web links on the internet.
The bloggers, who come from all across the globe, met online and decided to take part in the challenge.
He said: "We are a bunch of bloggers who were all horrified by what happened and feel that this is something that we can do to really help the victims."
Jonny Lyon also made the front page of his local paper:
To see more local press coverage check out the publicity area of the tuberelief site (it's towards the bottom of the page).
[12.05pm - Update] - At last we see the T Shirts!
Here's a message from Nikki Tysoe: "This is everyone we found at Woodford! (this is fimb by the way!)"
Sorry about the lack of pictures at the moment, I've just spent 20 minutes 'aving a word with Vodafone and apparently the settings on my phone needed to be changed to activate receiving the pictures, even though last week they told me I didn't need to do anything - D'OH.
Geoff will be gutted to know that he's just missed a reporter from Virgin Radio by about two minutes as she has popped along to Euston to catch up with them.
[10.00am - Update] - Fourteen year old Jonny Lyon at Euston
[9.45 - Update] - First team through at Euston
Just heard that Tami, Paul, Patrick and Jonny where the first people to make it to the Euston pitstop. There's a group of volunteers at Euston station who have energy bars, first aid kits and general moral support on hand. They'll also be taking a polaroid picture of the challengers when they get to the station and sticking them on a board so that everyone can see their progress. Helene says she's sent me a mobile phone picture too - but haven't received it yet. Note to self - 'av a word with vodafone to see why they're not coming through.
[9.40 - Update] - First Mobile phone picture of the day
As I haven't got a picture phone myself I'm getting mobile pictures sent to me over the net and this may mean they take a while to come in. I'm not sure.
"Chiswick park. 4 hours gone, half hour behind. And i see no train.. From Andy and Chris."
[9.40 - Update] - "Well that was organised chaos wasn't it?", said a bemused Tube driver at West Harrow when 67 people were piling themselves onto his train at 7.15 this morning. Just had a report from Geoff saying that the station isn't normally used to seeing a gaggle of Tube Challengers getting their tickets through the gates and rushing down to get a train. Specially when one of the challengers' rucksacks split open, with the contents of the bag over the platform. Fortunately the driver waited for them all to get on.
The challengers all stayed in a large group from the start at 6am, but at 8am they split up into smaller teams and went their separate ways.
Apparently all the Tube driver's know that that challenge is taking place today and have been radioing each other about it. So we can expect to hear more ironic/funny/bemused driver's announcements about it throughout the day.
[9am - Update] - Werenotafraid blog Tuberelief
The popular website that I'm sure everyone knows about, blogged Tube Relief - many thanks guys!
It looks like the BBC were the first to break the news of the date of Tube Relief (obviously with the exception of this blog!!). The date of the challenge had been a closely guarded secret mainly for security reasons.
[6.15am - Update] - The Early Morning Team Shot outside Amersham Station
Nice shot by Ann of the team getting ready for the off:
[6.10am - Update] - Jon Choo one of the challengers didn't make it to the night before meal (see below) but updated his blog at about 3am this morning with his thoughts for the day ahead:
"In less than three hours time we will be meeting at Amersham tube station to begin our twenty hour journey around the underground in our grave attempt to visit every. single. tube. station.
Around 260 of them on a distance of 400 kilometres.
*Yawn* Shit. I am still so tired. I do not know how I am going to get through this, but getting through this I will."
His girlfriend Jen Hardy is also on the challenge and also gives her reasons for taking part.
"Some people almost forgotten on how useful and sustainable public transport is, those whom especially always had a bad principal of using their private cars just to go to a convenience store that located few metres away from their house (those in America, especially, with their 4X4!). Public transports are there for a reason! It helps in reducing Carbon Emissions (especially now when the world is force to do something to reduce all type of pollutions due to climate change).
In this post, I would like to take the opportunity to say how I envy London public transport for giving a positive example, not only to other cities in England (such as Brighton), but also other countries where public transport wasn't really put into practice yet (such as Indonesia).
Supporting Tube Relief 2005 will help us in putting the broken pieces back and giving people their confidence back in using public transport that will help in minimising the environmental impact! "
You can also see a picture of their rucksacks with water, energy bars, Snickers and energy drinks for the long day ahead.
He said: "As you can see, we will be mostly carrying snacks, drinks, maps and pieces of papers. London's pick-pocketers should be warned that there is nothing of value to be found in the bags. At all."
[12.30am - Update] - Hopefully by now the challengers should all be tucked up in bed ready for the early start but on Wednesday night a whole group met in Amersham for a meal to swap stories and do some last minute planning. Tami Brisset had the furthest to travel coming over from New Orleans to take part in the challenge. She's a Police Captain in New Orleans and brought over some caps, badges and T-Shirts for the team.
Neil had challenged Geoff to a "Beardwatch" to see who could grow the biggest beard before the event. Geoff jumped ship after a few days but Neil continued and the beard ceremoniously disappeared this evening.