The Marathon 2007

This is the home of the Mexican Metro Challenge! To find out all you could ever want to know about one of the crazier world record attempts, click on the links to your right.

Current Record Time
10 hours and 11 minutes
Set on 1st October 2007

After an aborted attempt on 30th September, due to Linea 4 being closed for the day, I completed the entire Mexico City metro network on 1st October. The photograph above is from San Lazaro, perhaps the most architecturally impressive station in the network.

In the end I raised a total of US$140 for Wildcoast, and got a nice letter from them.

Dear Gary:

Thank you so much for your support and raising $140 for Wildcoast. I enjoyed
your about your world record attempt. We appreciate you spreading the word
about the work of WiLDCOAST to protect coastal ecosystems and wildlife and
to make sure that the wonderful ocean animals of Mexico--like sea turtles
can remain in the ocean.

We are hosting an event in Mexico City with El Santo in December and we'll
make sure that you get an invite!!!

Cheers and all the best for the Holidays!

Photos of all the interchange and terminal stations visited during my Metro Marathon.

The Pledge Page

So you've decided to sponsor me - quite right too! It's simple. Leave a comment on this page telling me who you are, your email address and how much you want to pledge. When I've completed the Mexican Metro Marathon, I'll come and harrass you for the money!

How much should you give? Any amount is welcome. $100 would be incredibly generous. A cent incredibly tight! How about a peso, seeing as this is Mexico, for every station? Thats 175 pesos (US$17.5 / UK£9). Or you could do it per kilometre, which would be 200 pesos ($20 / £10). Or just $5. Just something please, any amount is good!

International Attempts

Yes, my idea is a little crazy, but far from original, and even though Guinness only recognise New York and London, people have been setting records around the world including Hamburg, Calgary and Paris. The clip below is from a trailer in the UK for an attempt that was broadcast during an episode of The Tube. The entire episode can be seen in two parts here.

Mexico DF Metro

Some facts and figures : Mexico City's Metro network is the 9th biggest in the world when measured by number of stations (175), 5th biggest by number of passenger rides per year (1.442 billion), and 8th longest by length (201.7 kms) and, by my own estimation, number one when it comes to the number of sellers patrolling the system.

From Wikipedia:
The Mexico City Metro (formally: Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro or STC Metro) provides metro service to the central and northern area of the Mexican Federal District and surrounding municipalities in the State of México. In 2004 the system served an average of 3.9 million passengers per day, the fifth highest ridership in the world.

The first Metro line with 16 stations was opened to the public in 1969. It has expanded since then in a series of fits and starts; it currently comprises eleven lines and 177 kilometres of passenger track. Trains feature rubber tires instead of traditional steel wheels, decreasing noise and making the system tolerant of Mexico City's unstable soils.

During rush hour, the trains are constantly serviced by unlicensed vendors selling pirate DVDs and music CDs, as well as large variety of other products. Some lines designate the first two cars of the train for women and children only, though this is only strictly enforced at rush hours.

The Metro has 175 stations, 24 of which serve two or more lines. It has 106 underground stations (the deepest of which are 35 metres below street surface); 53 surface stations and 16 elevated stations. Eleven stations are located in the State of Mexico, while the rest are within the limits of the Distrito Federal.

About Wildcoast

Wildcoast is a US based charity that helps to protect and revitalise coastal areas of the US and Latin America, and the wildlife found there. They have a particularly strong campaign to help sea turtles, which attracted me to them in the first place.

They have been awarded a Four Star rating by Charity Navigator.

Mission Statement

Wildcoast protects and preserves coastal ecosystems and wildlife in the Californias and Latin America by building grassroots support, conducting media campaigns and establishing protected areas.

The Rules

It's ever so simple - you have to travel the entire Metro network in the shortest possible time. The rules have been adapted from the official Guinness World Records set of rules for the London Underground.

1. All of the stations served by the Mexico City Metro's trains must be visited.

To `visit' a station, you must arrive and/or depart by a metro train in normal public service. It is necessary for a through train to stop at the station for the visit to count, although you do not need to get out. The Light Railway from Tasqueña to Embarcadero is not part of the metro system and does not need to be travelled.

2. Changing lines by foot.

Feet or public service transport may be used to transfer from one underground line to another. The use of private motor vehicles, taxis or any other form of privately arranged transport (bicycles, skateboards, etc) is not acceptable.

3. It is not necessary to cover every stretch of track on the network.

Thus, for example, if you have visited Jamaica on the Linea 9, Santa Anita on Linea 8, and Chabacano on Linea 2, you do not have to take Linea 8 from Santa Anita to Jamaica, although of course you can if you want.

4. A log book should be kept throughout the whole journey.

i.e. the time of arrival and departure from each station, line changes, commutes between lines and stations, etc. must be maintained. This book should illustrate clearly the route followed.

5. Timing the Challenge

Participants must record the exact start time and finish time of their attempt on a watch. The clock must start the moment the doors close on the first train taken by the challengers. It must stop the moment the challengers set foot on the platform at the last station.

6. Photograph proof.

Participants should photograph themselves in front of a station name sign at every line change and end of line station to show that they have travelled the complete network.

The Metro Challenge

So what is this Metro madness, you might ask yourself. Well, it started as a cunning plan to achieve an ambition I've had since I was a wee kid, watching Roy Castle and the very studious Norris McWhirter presenting Record Breakers on the Beeb. Every week they would show a host of world record attempts, backed by the Guinness Book of World Records - most of them pretty dumb. But entertaining nonetheless. What kid didn't want to be a Record Breaker in the 80's? I still do!

I never did get around to it though, mostly through a complete lack of inspiration. But I recently had a 'eureka' moment, and a search through Google and Guinness' site revealed that no one has set a world record for travelling the entire Mexico City metro network in the quickest time. Because that would be a dumb thing to do. Which is perfect, because as I lack any natural talent to break a proper record, I really did need to find something dumb.

Not as entirely dumb as you might think though. Guinness set rules and recognise this type of record for the London Underground and New York subway system - so why not Mexico's system? I applied through their website, and they told me ehy. Because they can't be bothered. Lazy bastards! They only do London and NYC. So that was the end of my plan. Until I read a news report from Oaxaca.

If Guinness had approved my plan, I intended to make the most of it and try and raise a little money for a conservation charity, Wildcoast, who do a lot of work saving sea turtles in Mexico. I have some pet turtles and have become very fond of these mean, green, eating machines. Such innocent harmless things, and they are being rapidlt hunted to extinction.

Mexican police have seized tens of thousands of eggs of endangered turtles from a group of smugglers in the southern state of Oaxaca, where the eggs are a delicacy believed to have aphrodisiac powers. Police arrested six people when a search at a police roadblock near a Oaxacan beach turned up 57,000 Olive Ridley turtle eggs, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles have landed on the state's Pacific beaches in recent days, part of an annual egg-laying migration. The eggs are a traditional part of the diet on Oaxaca's sweltering coastal plains, where markets openly display them alongside turtle meat, despite laws prohibiting their sale.


So even if Guinness World Records want to be spoilsports, I shall do my Metro Marathon thing anyway - I'm sure I can raise at least $100. A paltry amount for the effort really, but if it'll save a turtle or two, then it's got to be worth the effort.

So what exactly is the Mexican Metro Marathon, and what are the rules? How to sponsor me? Who are Wildcoast? What other idiots have done this around the world? Click on the menu to the right, and all will be revealed!