Spikes19 Feb 2015

Rush Hour II


Race the Tube

Remember those guys who raced London’s tube and won? They only went and took on New York’s subway.

One of the viral sensations of 2014 saw James Heptonstall and Noel Carroll pit themselves against the London underground in a foot race. The Londoners proved that even when faced with the might of a multi-billion ££$$£$ urban rail network there’s no match for athletic prowess: both beat the world’s first underground rail network in their respective sprint and middle distance races. Take that engineering.

In January this year, the pair were shipped out to the Big Apple by Adidas to take on the largest rapid transport system on the globe. Heptonstall, who beat the tube over the sprint distance in the last video, stepped up for the challenge.

The 30-year-old, a former 7.02m long jumper, tells SPIKES that being in New York and getting to meet Yohan Blake, Wilson Kipsang and Jennifer Shur at the UltraBoost trainer launch was one of the the highlights of becoming a YouTube sensation.

And though pelting through a busy street might look simple enough, Heptonstall says taking on the trains is not a mere a matter of rocking up with your day saver return and a pair of sneaks. It takes preparation, strategy, logistics (and also a valid ticket).

“Setting the challenges up takes quite a bit of planning, especially working out the exit and entry strategies at the stations,” the environmental consultant, who once competed against Olympic champ Greg Rutherford at Crystal Palace, says.

“We work this all out on paper to see if a challenge is doable. Then on the day the weather, pedestrians, traffic, the speed of the train etc. are all out of our control, so you are never sure if you are going to be successful.”

Alighting at Bowling Green Station on Manhattan, Heptonstall scampered the stairs and bolted 410m down the road to Wall Street Station. Although the setting was different, the challenge he faced was the same: clear the turnstiles, avoid knocking over any big city cheeses and cover the distance faster than the subway car.

“There is not that much difference,” the England touch rugby international says. “I think the subway trains are slightly faster than the tube, and the barriers are turnstiles on the subway rather than gates which saves a few seconds.”

He had 85 seconds if he was going to remain the undefeated champion of the world. Did he make it? Find out below.