2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

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key_cauliflower3135
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2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by key_cauliflower3135 »

Hey everyone, as I haven't posted on this forum before, I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Derry, an avid tube geek. I came across the tube challenge about a year ago and since then have been trying to complete the challenge for myself to see what it would be like. It is a marathon.

So I made my first attempt during the summer, (I think it was June 16th), was never a time sensitive route at the time, and ended up completing the route on my second attempt (on the first attempt the Met failed me very early on during the day). I ended up starting at Heathrow T4 at 5:02am and ending at Chalk Farm at 00:02 for a time of 18hrs 59mins and 32 seconds. I chose Chalk Farm as an end as I knew I would have night tube to fall back on should I run too far behind "theoretical perfect" and that I could always finish on a Night Tube. I left Edgware at 23:43 that evening, you all would probably be able to tell me if that train would have ran if it wasn't a Friday timetable :D

So onto my 2nd attempt, I had researched all of the possible routes I came across here and on other websites at length, and came to the conclusion that in order to do a weekday run, the morning Olympias were simply superior due to the lack of probability of the evening Olympias being cancelled. That led to a natural Heathrow - Chesham/Amersham Start/End. However, there was a niche in the timetable which meant that I was eyeing Epping as an end instead, which led to my eventual route I will discuss below.

I got onto the first Picc Train at Hounslow West (Having just came off a nightbus) at around 4:55am. Thankfully, train 221 did pull in only around 1 minute behind schedule and 220 was at least 5 minutes behind on the dot matrix. (5 minutes is probably what I would consider a "safe" lead to make that connection at Heathrow T2 & 3.) We pulled into T4 on time and left practically immediately.

Onto T2 & 3 and a 2 minute wait on the Platform, the journey to T5 was uneventful. (The timestamp I have of a photo taken at T5 was at 5:14am, meaning we probably arrived into T5 early.)

While waiting at the platform at T5, I had noticed that there was another fellow passenger who had crossed the platform and was looking at notes, I didn't think much of it at the time, as passengers make mistakes all the time and this was early morning. Onto the back of the train.

The train pulls into the platform at around 5:21am, and while I was hoping for an ontime departure at 5:22am, my experience told me that this was simply not going to happen. Sure enough, we only left at around 5:24am. Fast forward to Barons Court, I jump off the train and I see the same passenger back at T5 (as we were on the same end of the platform) also waiting for the approaching district line train to West Kensington. We approach West Kensington and I tap out at 6:01am. At this point, I had accidently cut in front of the same gentleman I had met in T5 and Barons Court, and I was speculating whether he was a fellow tube challenger. (He was!)

I checked the clock outside West Kensington to be 6:01am, and knowing full well I was up for a run at that hour in the morning, I hoped for a wayward 28/306 to come to my rescue. Sure enough, as luck would have it, the 28 was 1 minute away. Arrived at Olympia at 6:08am and happy that I made the 6:10am, but also knowing that it probably wouldn't save me any time further on. The clock had just gone 6:10am and I saw a familiar figure running from the opposite side of the fence, the doors had just closed and I saw the same gentleman approach the train. Thankfully, the train driver reopened the doors for him, and the two of us were on our merry way to HSK.

HSK to Edgware Road was a good connection (On a circle Line?), but our Hammersmith train left as timetabled which left me at Edgware Road for a 5 minute wait. I had decided to break my journey here (to not exceed maximum journey times) as I will do on multiple other occasions. At this point, frustration had prevented me from approaching my fellow tube challenger, who I will soon know to be Alan. Edgware Road to Hammersmith was uneventful, and as expected, the Richmond train at 6:48am was long gone by the time I reached the platform.

At this point, I decided to approach Alan, as it was simply way too much coincidences to add together and he was in all likelihood also a tube challenger. To my relief, this was the case. We had a chat about our way here so far and exchanged routes while he told me stories about his previous attempts. We separated not too long after at Richmond, as he had decided to remain at the back of the train to change for the Ealing Broadway train at Turnham Green, while I needed to be at the front to make the run from Gunnersbury.

From memory, I remember the train being about 30 seconds early into Gunnersbury, I sprinted up the stairs and used the Grange Road exit (I believe this to be shorter). A wrong turn and a quick consultation with Google Maps meant I was sprinting down Chiswick High Road with weird looks from strangers... I made the crossing at Bollo Lane into Chiswick Park just as I heard the S Stock train brakes. Another bolt up the stairs and I see the train doors open. I had surprised even myself by making that sprint in 4 minutes. I was looking for Alan at the front of the train but unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he had probably just missed the train, which would end up being correct from his account.

District line train doors open at 7:38:30. I had seen two central line trains on the platform, meaning that the 7:39am had not yet left, and knowing that the next train would be 10 mins away at 7:48, I sprinted across the interchange to make the train. We were now 9 minutes ahead of "theoretical perfect". West Acton - North Ealing didn't need to be a massive sprint, and it was done in 5 minutes. At this point I remember there being minor delays on the Picc due to signal failures somewhere, and thankfully that worked out for me due to the 7:47am Rayners Lane being late. I think the 7:53 and 7:58 Uxbridge were also cancelled or severely delayed, but thankfully this didn't impact me.

I arrived at Rayners Lane at 8:09am, prepared for a run to North Harrow, but pleasantly surprised when a H10 passed me. Not the most pleasant bus experience, but certainly better than running that distance since I was not in a rush. The 8:26am to Chesham (and yes I do the Northwest Corner here) was a little late but it gave me some time for food. Up to Chesham and back down to Chalfont*

*(I realise at this point (and on a subsequent unsuccessful attempt that versus the double back to Chalfont, the 1 bus leaving outside Chesham station is much more reliable than the Met line at making this connection)

While at Chalfont, I realise that my plan was about to fall apart, I arrived into Chalfont at 9:18. According to timetable an Amersham train was meant to depart at 9:21. The dot matrix said 6 mins away. I realised at that point that I would miss the Amersham double back. Sure enough I did. I was stuck at Amersham for 30 mins (I did use Chiltern down to Rickmansworth, but waiting at Amersham would have led to the same result). On reflection, this split second connection (the Amersham train in is timetabled at 9:24am, the one out also 9:24am) is probably only makeable once every week (if even that), the 9am 1 bus from Chesham would be much more reliable for this.

This 30 minute time loss, coupled with a late Watford train, meant I was 35 minutes behind "theoretical perfect" at Watford. I was disappointed, and while sub 18 hours was looking more and more unlikely, I fought on. I had absolutely no motivation on the run to Watford Junction and made it in 18 minutes to catch the hourly Southern service to H&W.

Overground from H&W down to Queen's Park, where a Bakerloo was waiting on Platform 2, Elephant & Castle, London Bridge, Southwark double back. No connections to ride home about, and no time lost or gained. West Ham transfer was quite good, putting us at Upminster at 12:35pm. I was about 40 minutes behind at this stage, but having completed almost halfway at this stage, my spirits were still high. Upminster - Aldgate East, run to Aldgate left me waiting for a circle for about 5 mins, not the worst, not the best. Double back at Sloane Square left me with a 3 minute wait (which is horrific at that time of the day on that part of the branch but whatever).

I was left with a long wait for a bus at Vauxhall after the double back to Brixton, the 344 did eventually come to the rescue but it was 2:07pm already, I was losing about 5 mins per hour. I made that 5 minutes back when I made a train that was departing at BPS. Onto Kennington, Morden & South Wimbledon, where I opted for the bus for the connection to Wimbledon. It was about a 2 minute wait and 5 minute journey. (In hindsight I think bus from Morden - Morden Road - tram would be the fastest connection, but I guess it depends on the day.) Onto the Wimbledon train at 3:05pm.

At Earl's Court, the change was seamless, but the train was a slow running one, with holds in Green Park & HPC for upwards of 3 minutes due to "the previous driver falling asleep at the wheel" (He was causing a 15 min gap in the service, I was very glad I made the train I did). Once at Cockfosters, I weighed up my options, run to the 307, wait 15+ mins for a 384 or go to Oakwood for the 307. I chose the last one (I refuse to run to High Barnet as I know that would demolish me for the rest of the challenge). Wow, the 307 MUST be the SLOWEST TFL bus there is. Holds every 2nd bus stop, always crowded, and we terminated at New Barnet for some reason.

The transfer from Cockfosters to High Barnet ended up taking upwards of 30 mins. *sigh*.

In at High Barnet at 4:52pm, and a mediocre connection brought us to MHE at 5:19pm. We were now a full hour behind, and a sub 18 almost firmly out of reach. MHE down to Moorgate, and back up on a completely full Met to Uxbridge (This part of the route seems inefficient somehow, but I am unsure as to how I would do it better). We reach Uxbridge at 6:52pm, a full 2 hours after High Barnet, and now 1hr 10 behind "theoretical perfect".

Ickenham, West Ruislip connection was done in 6 mins due to a wayward U1 taking me up the hill. Sailing down the central line until Bond Street, then up to Canons Park with a Double back at Stanmore. Thankfully no time was lost due to a fortunate connection at Bond Street. A 1 minute wait for a 340 meant that we were on our way to Edgware immediately after hopping out at Canons Park.

Onto the homestretch from Edgware then, with the clock now showing 8:31pm, down to Euston, up to Walthamstow, down to Warren Street and then Tottenham Court Road, all lines down except Central, I knew that it would be close. Hainault loop timings were nothing special (but to be honest you can't expect much at that hour). I was soon standing at Woodford, at 11:02pm waiting for my last train of the challenge up to Epping. (I doubled back at South Woodford to tick off one end of the loop due to trains at the time).

I then rode the last stretch of the line down to Epping, arriving at Epping at 23:21, giving a time of 18:18:39.

Relieved to have finally done the challenge and gotten a personal best, but also to not have missed final train (I was 2 trains away from missing final train).

I will probably retire for a while, but I may just give it one last shot as I think the Chesham/Amersham and Cockfosters/High Barnet could greatly be improved. And I do believe a sub 17 is possible with insane amounts of luck with this route. Are there any improvements you all can see and would be happy to share? Happy to hear all of your thoughts :)
Golf
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by Golf »

The timestamp I have of a photo taken at T5 was at 5:14am, meaning we probably arrived into T5 early.) "Perfectly normal on WTT it is 05:13:30 arrival

I sprinted up the stairs and used the Grange Road exit AT GUNNERSBURY (I believe this to be shorter) "Distance wise not sure if much in it but defo a quieter exit and that helps i also use it i do nip down chiswick road and run down the one way street though!

the 9am 1 bus from Chesham would be much more reliable for this. "Oh defo surprised you didnt use it far better to be possibly on the move than waiting around for something u know wont move for a while.

going from watford to watford junction to then go down to harrow & whealdstone totally and utterly waste of time ticking off absolutely nothing granted your choice of finish limits the ways you can do this but you do have several options of reversing that north west corner.!

(In hindsight I think bus from Morden - Morden Road - tram would be the fastest connection, but I guess it depends on the day.) there are many ways of doing this if coming into morden ur options are simple either take the double back if u think its better to south wimbledon or dont that way u still have both options but not morden road but never take the bus on that one DO NOT!

Once at Cockfosters, I weighed up my options, run to the 307, wait 15+ mins for a 384 or go to Oakwood for the 307. I chose the last one (I refuse to run to High Barnet as I know that would demolish me for the rest of the challenge). i dont see how 85% of that run is downhill even if u walk the last part steep uphill into new barnet or take the slighter gradient one u have increased ur options tenfold!

I will probably retire for a while, but I may just give it one last shot as I think the Chesham/Amersham and Cockfosters/High Barnet could greatly be improved. And I do believe a sub 17 is possible with insane amounts of luck with this route. Are there any improvements you all can see and would be happy to share? Happy to hear all of your thoughts :) well its nearly 2 hours inside the current record holder time (slowest completion ever!) so i presume you did the necessary evidence to prove? to be honest until a time of less than 16h 30min came out keep at it!
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key_cauliflower3135
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by key_cauliflower3135 »

Hey Golf, thanks for your thoughts, I may try it again in the next week or so with the improvements you’ve suggested!

Also when you say “I hope you have the necessary evidence to prove”, I’ll be honest I was never going for GWR, doing this is all a little bit of fun. I just find the process of proving GWR too much bureaucracy to deal with and having to take down all the times at all the different stations along with all the station photographs/videos is just a little too much to think about when attempting the challenge alone.

Not to mention the extra witness statements and stuff like that it’s just way too much to think about when also thinking about connections and all that.

As for the northwest corner being a waste of time, I partially agree with your thoughts, but the way I see it, an Epping double back consists of a Epping - Snaresbrook trip at least which is 21 minutes plus a 2 mile run which can easily be 25 minutes. A double back from Watford you need to go as far as Northwick Park which is timetabled to be 23 minutes (with a perfect double back connection at Watford), you then need to backtrack to Kenton and H&W before coming back down the Bakerloo, at least eating up another 10/15 mins. My connection between Watford & H&W can be done within about 30/35 mins consistently, and with good connections at Amersham/Chesham, it means that NW corner isn’t as bad as people fear it to be.

I just think that Epping is too far out to be considered convenient for a double back, and as the Hainault Loop doesn’t decrease in frequency during late evening hours, it made sense to do it that way instead. But what do I know :mrgreen:
Golf
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by Golf »

Also when you say “I hope you have the necessary evidence to prove”, I’ll be honest I was never going for GWR, doing this is all a little bit of fun. I just find the process of proving GWR too much bureaucracy to deal with and having to take down all the times at all the different stations along with all the station photographs/videos is just a little too much to think about when attempting the challenge alone.

Not to mention the extra witness statements and stuff like that it’s just way too much to think about when also thinking about connections and all that.

"please will someone re-consider this apparently we have now had 5 times i believe under 20h 04min the slowest ever new record EVER and now it looks like its staying because people dont want the faff!

I just think that Epping is too far out to be considered convenient for a double back, and as the Hainault Loop doesn’t decrease in frequency during late evening hours,

" although i havent looked at my route recently 15h 45m 38s with twists involved for the extra 2 stations should i ever wanted to go again! that epping connection and woodford is far better than EPPING FINISH although i can see your logic for doing it!
5 time london underground record holder
1 time new york record holder
1 time berlin record holder (not ratified by guinness)
1 time paris record holder
zone 1 winner 2009,2012,2023
random 15 championship winner twice
tube olympic winner once
RJSRdg
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by RJSRdg »

Golf wrote: 24 Oct 2023, 18:24
"please will someone re-consider this apparently we have now had 5 times i believe under 20h 04min the slowest ever new record EVER and now it looks like its staying because people dont want the faff!

I registered with Guinness back in June when they recognised Adham's record, because I know I can beat that time (having already done so!). Four months on, I haven't heard a peep from them....
272 stations in 18:30:32
The only person to have used a boat in a Random 15 Challenge!
Golf
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by Golf »

I registered with Guinness back in June when they recognised Adham's record, because I know I can beat that time (having already done so!). Four months on, I haven't heard a peep from them...

it usually takes around 6 months i should know
5 time london underground record holder
1 time new york record holder
1 time berlin record holder (not ratified by guinness)
1 time paris record holder
zone 1 winner 2009,2012,2023
random 15 championship winner twice
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RJSRdg
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by RJSRdg »

Golf wrote: 24 Oct 2023, 18:24
" although i havent looked at my route recently 15h 45m 38s with twists involved for the extra 2 stations should i ever wanted to go again! that epping connection and woodford is far better than EPPING FINISH although i can see your logic for doing it!
I for one certainly appreciate the fact that you and Steve have allowed those of us who aren't quite so nimble to set times before you have another attempt! :-)
272 stations in 18:30:32
The only person to have used a boat in a Random 15 Challenge!
Golf
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Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by Golf »

I for one certainly appreciate the fact that you and Steve have allowed those of us who aren't quite so nimble to set times before you have another attempt! :-)

well i had honestly never thought about coming back and doing another challenge uk side (hint there for all those whom love easter eggs) after zone 1 this year where apart from chilcraft whom got lucky that i ran down a wrong street at chancery lane and just missed the previous connection. i thought hang on what is this current crop of tube challengers doing! i thought my exploits would encourage them to think out of the box!

so never say never i am part time now so every friday i have off! which also means if anybody wanted a stopwatch operator and very knowledgable person as support team im at ur disposal!
5 time london underground record holder
1 time new york record holder
1 time berlin record holder (not ratified by guinness)
1 time paris record holder
zone 1 winner 2009,2012,2023
random 15 championship winner twice
tube olympic winner once
Golf
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Joined: 08 Nov 2020, 19:18

Re: 2nd Successful Completion (With a much improved route)

Post by Golf »

may i be the first to say congratulations and welcome to the club how many people was it?
5 time london underground record holder
1 time new york record holder
1 time berlin record holder (not ratified by guinness)
1 time paris record holder
zone 1 winner 2009,2012,2023
random 15 championship winner twice
tube olympic winner once
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