The Ultimate Train Challenge was a concept that I developed in my head near the end of 2010, while traveling in South America. I have been a huge train fan for quite some time and was looking for a new sort of travel challenge after I got back from my round-the-world (RTW), no planes trip in 2009-10. My mind wandered to the question: “What is the world record for longest continuous train journey?”
And so, the Ultimate Train Challenge was born.
Here is how it is going to work. I have invited a number of great travel bloggers to join me in Lisbon, Portugal for a one-month train journey that starts on September 1st and ends at the end of the month in Saigon, Vietnam.
Everyone is free to take whatever route they want to get to the finish line. The person or team that ends up in Saigon with the most miles traveled by rail will be deemed “the winner,” as long as they follow the rules.
The rules are likewise quite simple. To make it a ‘continuous train journey,’ you need to take at least one train every day. To make sure that people don’t just pile up easy mileage, you can’t go back into a country once you leave it and you can’t repeat a length of rail (e.g. you can’t take the Paris to Lyon bullet train back and forth to pile up miles). Obviously, you also have to complete the entire journey by train.
The spirit of the trip is that it is an actual a train journey — that you are trying to get from Lisbon to Saigon — and in the meantime, you are traveling on the longest existing, continuous stretch of train tracks currently on the planet.
But just sitting on trains, trying to set a world record would be boring, so we are going to add a lot of entertaining side competitions and to-do’s for the traveling bloggers, which hopefully will bring enjoyment to those of you following along. Given that I bring a slightly oddball sense of fun and humor to how I travel, I hope that everyone that is participating will dive in fully to those activities, because I think those experiences will be the ones that we will all be talking about at the wrap-up party in Saigon.
And yes, there will be a good wrap up party for sure. Everyone reading and following along is invited — first round of drinks on me.
So browse around, get a sense of what we are trying to accomplish here, and more importantly, give us your feedback. This whole concept is going to have a lot of input and feedback from readers like you — so help make this whole thing truly be “The Ultimate Train Challenge.”