Blimey, I should really try and write these up in better time.
So after my first successful completion back in January (which I have also written about, to critical acclaim if I may say so!) I was, as I know all of us are, not just satisfied with doing it. I've got to do it faster.
I organised it with my friend Rob (who I was supposed to do it with me in January but he couldn't make it) a good couple of months in advance so we knew we could definitely do it, and in a meeting in the bar below where we live the evening before; we organised our food drops by our friends and made sure everyone (2 of us, 1 moral support, being a friend and 1 long-distance mission control, being my Dad) knew exactly what was happening.
We woke up at 3am, and I posted the first of many updates onto Facebook (as we had had lots of interest and support from friends and family we decided to live-update on facebook), left our place at 3:30 to walk to the bus stop to catch the N9 bus to Hounslow, where we then walked to Hounslow East to catch the train down to T4. And so, prologue finished, our story begins:
In a seemingly rare occurance, the Heathrow T4 train was on time, and our challenge started at just a few seconds past 5:02. We made T123 in good time, and I was already in a good mood (albeit still exhausted) when we were still bang on time reaching Acton Town. Change onto District to Chiswick Park left us our first on-foot leg to Gunnersbury, which went fine. Down to Richmond and then we had to psych ourself up for the dreaded Olympia run, and to our annoyance the train was slipping a few seconds behind time. Rob had looked through the run in Streetview the night before, and just as the train stopped I briefed him; "You have... 7 minutes and 20 seconds, don't wait up." It was not that I didn't think I could make the run with him, but I did not want him to wait for me as I knew through my awful physical condition, anything could go wrong. After 6m20s he collapsed onto the Olympia train at 06:44:00 and 20s later I collapsed on board too. I even had time to get my camera back out and take a photograph. Bloody amazing, 20 seconds faster than my PB on that run. We were coughing up our lungs but the celebrations were strong. But it was to be short lived, as when we arrived in Earl's Court to get the 06:55 Edgware Rd, not only was the queue too long to use the toilet, but 06:55:00 ticked over, and there was still a Barking train waiting in the platform. The clock ticked, and ticked, until finally at around 6:58 the Barking train crawled out of the way and our train pulled in, and got as far as the Gloucester Road triangle, where we ground to a halt, and the driver explained we had to wait for a Circle line train that had crept in front of us. Bollocks. 6 minutes late we pull into Edgware Road, and have to wait an annoying 3 minutes for a Hammersmith train.
2 green lights across Hammersmith Broadway left us a 1 minute wait for an Arnos Grove train, on which we were joined by our friend Megan, whom although we had joked the day before should bring us bacon butties for breakfast, we didn't expect to actually do so. Let's just say when she handed them over she became less of a friend and more of an angel. Luckily we ran cross-platform for a Cockfosters train at Arnos Grove and we were moving again within seconds, and a good switchback at Cockfosters left us with a manageable wait at Oakwood for the 307 to High Barnet. Now while we were on our way up to Cockfosters, we sent a message to our friend Deji who lives in HB, and we arrive with a slightly annoying 3 minute wait for a train, but it gave Deji time to arrive and join us and time for all of us to go to the toilets on the platform. Spiffing. We filmed our traditional pole-dancing VLog at Mill Hill East (don't ask) and only had to wait for the next train on the line at East Finchley to take us down to the City.
We waved goodbye to our comrade Megan at Moorgate as we boarded a Met line train to take us to Baker Street where we headed up to Stanmore. It is at this point where I had my first rest, and I collapsed in a wheelchair area, only leaning out into the door area to take photos (I do my best to take a photo of every roundel). A perfect connection left us a few minutes wait at Canons Park bus stop but nothing problematic, and we caught a CX train at Edgware in good time. It was at this point where I realised our route had failed to account the Central line closure at TCR, so we extended our planned switchback from Goodge St to TCR, costing us valuable minutes but nonetheless a relatively painless solution. We changed to the Vic at Warren St, and lost our final companion Deji who switchbacked at Walthamstow to go back home, and it was back to just the two of us. I enjoyed the passing of a freight train at Walthamstow Queen's Road as Rob napped on the platform (got the picture to prove it) while waiting for the Overhground to Leytonstone High Road, which turns up 2 frustrating minutes late, and we caught a Hainault train at Leytonstone in good time, but found ourselves with a 12 minute wait for a Woodford train at Hainault. This was bloody annoying, and we decided to bide the time by popping out the station and going to a newsagents we found and stocked up on provisions that were already beginning to run low. In yet another moment of frustration, we watched an Epping train pull away as we dash across the footbridge in vein at Woodford, and had to wait 9 minutes for the next one. We wait 5 minutes for our train to go back the way it came at Epping (no lucky dash across the footbridge here either) and we rode it right across Central London to White City, with me struggling through the crowds to take photos while Rob napped once again. We reversed to Shepherd's Bush and again suffered a less than desirable wait for an Overground train to West Brompton. We got a perfect connection at WB and down to Wimbledon we went, where our first 'unforced error' occured. We got on a bus to South Wimbledon, and went a few hundred yards before grinding to a halt in heavy traffic. We should have got off and run much sooner than we did, we could have saved at least 5 minutes by doing so, but acceptable connections at Morden and a reverse at Kennington (pain in the arse to change but the route dictated it) and then Stockwell and Brixton meant we kept relatively good time.
During the time of us going under at Morden and coming back up (well, up enough) at Sloane Square, there was a hold up (at Blackfriars, memory serving) and we lost more minutes waiting for a Circle line train as the congested trains unravelled themselves. The proximity of the trains did let us in on some information though. There was an Upminster train right 2 minutes behind ours. We psyched ourselves up for the sprint from Aldgate to Aldgate East, and we dive onto the Upminster train having done the run in about 2 minutes, still not Usain Bolt pace but it didn't stop us coughing up what was left of our lungs again as we crawled through the bowels of East London. While we were on the train though, a message came in from Mission Control. My Dad told us it would be quicker to get off our train at West Ham and get a c2c that would arrive just after we would, and ride that to Upminster before riding the District back to West Ham. It worked beautifully, and as we dived onto a Jubilee line train at West Ham, spirits were beginning to rise again. They immediately dampened as the train was packed out at Canary Wharf and as we realised that our second food drop wasn't going to happen. We got mediocre changes at Southwark and London Bridge, and only found a Queen's Park train at E&C. We waited more annoying minutes at QP before finally getting a Harrow & Wealdstone train, where we do luckily get a quick connection back to Kenton, and as we walked down towards Northwick Park, spirits are high for a completion.
We saw a Southbound train pulling in as we approach the station and peg it through the barriers and up the stairs and make it by seconds, and I seem to remember we had time for a toilet stop at Preston Road before catching an Uxbridge train. We narrowly missed a train at Uxbridge and had to wait a few minutes for a train back to Ickenham, where our aching bodies failed to deliver us to West Ruislip in time for a Central line and we have to wait 5 minutes for the next one. All the time my Dad back at Mission Control (okay, at home) was following our progress and calculating our connections and finishing times. A 1 minute connection at East Acton put us on a lucky Ealing Broadway train. Despite having to dash down and up the frustratingly long staircases, we just make the EB train, which boosts our spirits and chances of a good completion. We got a District line train in good time and a lucky Rayners Lane train at Ealing Common as we finally complete all lines but the Met. Luckily due to the information from my Dad we knew we didn't have to rush from Rayners Lane to North Harrow for a Watford train. At this point we also know that everything rests on a 0 minute connection at Moor Park to an Amersham train. We arrive back at Moor Park, and the Amersham train (and all Northbound trains in general) is running 4 minutes late, which would be fine if we weren't also counting on a 1 minute connection onto a Chiltern train to take us back to Chalfont to get the next Chesham train. We watched the Chiltern train pass us well before we arrive in Amersham, and have to wait for our Tube train to meander into the sidings and back out again. We wait, beyond caring, for the next Chesham train and we finished at around ten to midnight. We filmed the final moments, and I interviewed Rob until we suddenly realise we're about to stop, so we get his watch (our rudimentary stopwatch) ready, and naturally, it being his first completion, he stepped his foot onto the platform at Chesham and our final time was:
18 hours 47 minutes 40 seconds.
Obviously not the best time, but no mean feat nonetheless, an hour and a quarter faster than my first time and considering none of the delays were really our fault, we were very chuffed with ourselves. We rode the train back from Chesham as far as it would take us, and we were kicked out of Wembley Park station, where we then had to improvise our way home. We got a bus from Wembley Park to Willesden Bus Garage, a place I always fantasised about (I know what you're thinking, and no, not like that) as one of our local buses goes there. I know it's just a pile of buses, but seeing so many of them packed in and even spilling out onto the streets around the garage was somewhat surreal. We wait for our 52 bus to take us to High Street Kensington. During most of the wait (about 30 minutes, in the rain, at half 1 in the morning, you decide how we were feeling) and the journey we didn't say a word to each other. Nothing had happened, we just didn't talk until Rob said "We gonna go get food then?" as we turned from Church St onto HSK, we got off and tucked into a well deserved McDonalds at 2:30am. We finished up, and get back home at 3am, 24 hours after we'd got up to begin our adventure.
Thanks for reading, and there'll be another one of these from me soon as I've already done another FNC since this attempt!
Let us know about your latest FULL NETWORK CHALLENGE efforts
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Belated congratulations! I'm glad that you managed to get your stopwatch to work this time and record a definitive time. If you would like me to add your accomplishment to the top times list, perhaps you could PM me with your and Rob's full name?