Adham Fisher and Andy James are members of a unique community: subway-philes who attempt to break Guinness World Records in various major cities. Last week, Fisher and James set out  to ride through all of New York City’s subway stations. Although both ultimately fell short of the previous 22:52:36 record by approximately eighteen minutes, we at Untapped Cities were introduced to a whole new type of urban hobby.

Adham and Andy’s unconventional pastime brought them together as a subway-riding duo. In their own right, both are veterans. Adham held the Chicago subway system record until recently. Andy previously broke the speed record for traveling the London Underground. In an interview, they acknowledged the inherent differences between subway systems in London and New York City. Andy tells Untapped, “New York is massive and difficult compared to London.”

“London inspired me to start riding,” said Adham, who works for Formula One in England while Andy is a full-time pharmacist. Despite the two’s inability to break the New York record, Adham remains optimistic. Next, he is headed to Chicago to re-claim his record title in the Windy City, then, it is  onward to conquer Toronto’s expansive subway system.

If you were curious about the rules of the world records, there are a few categories. The rules were set forth by the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee in 1966 by Peter Samson as part of an artificial intelligence experiment. A Class A designation requires you to cover all lines without exiting the system, but to be recognized as a record breaker in the Guinness Book of World Records, the objective of the subway ride is stop at all train spots (no express trains). This is considered a “Class B” categorization and for the Guinness title, riders are permitted to exit and enter on a new fare. The second class, Class C, is passing all stops in the subway system without needing to stop. However, the first person to attempt the challenge was Herman Rinke, who did so on a single 5-cent fare as a “sentimental gesture” before the subway lines were unified in 1940.

The following people were recognized for their Class B times:

  • June 1, 1966 – Michael Feldman and James Brown – 23 hours, 16 minutes
  • December 12 and 13, 1988 –   Rich Temple, Phil Vanner and Tom Murphy – 29 hours, 47 minutes
  • December 28 and 29, 2006 – Bill Amarosa Jr., Michael Boyle, Brian Brickmeyer, Stefan Karpinski, Jason Laska, and Andrew Weir – 24 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds
  • January 22, 2009 – Matt Ferrisi and Chris Solarz – 22 hours, 52 minutes, 36 seconds

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