Why, How & When

I decided I wanted to break a world record. This is hard if you're not the best in the world at any one thing. For example, my typical marathon finish is in the top 3% which sounds pretty reasonable until you realise that timewise it's 50% more than the world record. That's quite a way off!

However, if I could find several other things at which I was also in the top few percent, bring them together, then at that unique combination of skills I might just be one of the best.
I have a bit of an analytical problem-solving mind, and could be considered something of a Microsoft Excel geek. So I needed to find a record where these skills came together with running long distances.

The Tube Challenge seemed perfect.

The Tube Challenge - Keys to Success

There are people who have far more background knowledge of the tube than I ever will (or want). Also, tube challengers appear to go to great lengths to hide the route taken. See the photographs posted on this page from a record attempt by one of the more famous challengers - note the time stamps are blurred to avoid giving away any sort of clue of the time and thus very approximate sequence in which the station was visited!

Bring it on...

1. Data manipulation

I wish it weren't so, but the image used on section 1 (Network Map) is actually my own picture, of my own cup. On top of one of my own maps that I bo
ught from the London Transport Museum. I didn't buy the cup though, that was a present. From my girlfriend. Women can be so cruel.

Anyway, as far as moving data around goes, I run a management consultancy firm that specialises in solving business problems based on analytical approaches.


2. Route formulation

I took my GCSE in maths a year early, at A-Level I studied Maths, Further Maths, and Further Maths Additional, and then went on to Oxford University to study...Physics. Which let's face it, is basically maths. So I'd probably be able to out-geek anyone on this.

3. Running speed

At some points the tube challenger will exit the system and either take a bus or jog to another station e.g., after arriving at Cockfosters it's clear that the efficient thing to do is to get across to High Barnet rather than return to central London on the Piccadilly line.

So being able to run these kinds of distance (up to 5km) fast, as well as the more obvious changing of platforms within a station, will certainly help achieve a faster time.

Luckily I've run a few marathons over the years, including this effort in Rome in my boxer shorts. It's a long story.

4. Luck

Not being able to control exactly what happens on the day is a bonus for an "amateur" like me. I don't mind throwing a bit of time and money at this problem. If things don't work the first time, but I think it's close, then I could choose to go out again and again until it works. Perhaps other people attempting this in the past might not have had that luxury. Being my own boss is good sometimes.