Friday, April 27, 2012

CTA racing: it's a thing now

Posted By on 04.27.12 at 03:52 PM

Next time you have a free hour or ten, try riding to every station
  • Next time you have a free hour or ten, try riding to every station
This isn't racing to beat CTA trains and buses—though depending on traffic and construction delays, bikes, rollerblades, Segways, and occasionally pedestrians could win that competition. Instead, it involves riding the CTA to all 143 el stops in an attempt to break existing records for speed. British subway racer Adham Fisher, who's broken Guinness world records for riding public transit in several cities in Europe, set the first CTA-riding record in Chicago last March, riding to all of the train stations in the system in nine hours, 36 minutes, and 33 seconds. It stood until this February, when Chicagoans Danny Resner and John Greenfield proved that it's not only foreigners who are crazy enough to voluntarily spend nearly ten straight hours on the el (their record was 9:30:59).

Grid Chicago reports that in just the past month, the record has been broken three times: first by Scott Presslak and Kevin Olsta on April 6, and then five days later by Robert Bielaski and Ben Downey. This week, Fisher returned to Chicago and spent most of yesterday riding the CTA, setting a new record of 9:06:48. He's celebrating tomorrow by attending the 100th anniversary celebration of the Linden Purple Line station, then racing against Greenfield and Resner, along with anyone else who wants to participate, to see who can hit all the CTA stations fastest. They're not expecting to set any records, though, since train service is less frequent on the weekends.

Greenfield has an interesting piece in NewCity that gives a little more detail on the other records Fisher has broken—or attempted to break. In his home country he's never managed to upset the London Underground's current Guinness world record, though he's tried 11 times. And while he did successfully set a record in Toronto just before his latest trip to Chicago, he also spent nearly 24 hours riding to all 468 New York subway stations, only to miss his goal by 19 minutes. It's an odd hobby (which seems not uncommon for Guinness attempts—I had a friend in college who claimed to hold several world records in pool kayaking, which is apparently also a thing), and Fisher doesn't sound quite sure why he keeps doing it. He told Greenfield, "I don’t know what the attraction is for me. I do something that ninety-nine percent of people that live in the city in question wouldn’t even consider doing. The vast majority of people hate public transit and only use it when necessary." It doesn't sound like he has any plans to stop, though.

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