Subway riding pals beat record
amNewYork Staff Writer
August 24, 2006, 7:58 AM EDT
Two college pals beat a riding record time Thursday morning for traveling the entire New York City subway system. At 6:06 a.m., the pair arrived at the Pelham Bay station on the No. 6 train, clocking in at 24 hours, 2 minutes.
Wednesday, the pair's entree into the world of competitive subway riding sparked a media frenzy. Reporters raced along behind the pals as the train-hopped across the five boroughs on their self-described "moronic" quest to traverse all 468 subway stations in record time.
The duo, Matt Green and Don Badaczewski, broke the standing record set in 1998, which was 25 hours, 11 minutes.
"It's ridiculous," Badaczewski, 24, said via cell phone at the above-ground Franklin Avenue station Wednesday afternoon while waiting for a connecting train. "We never thought anyone would care about it."
The duo's adventure began Wednesday at 6 a.m. at Rockaway Park in Queens.
In addition to amNewYork and Newsday, their adventure was featured in The New York Times, Metro, WABC, WCBS, NY1, and FOX 5. Even The Seattle Times ran a piece about them. Reporters and cameramen followed the duo onto the trains Wednesday and ran with them as they dashed between connecting trains.
But it wasn't random chance that got the two all the attention. Green, a 26-year-old Brooklyn resident, e-mailed reporters a press release days before their adventure.
It was clear from the release that they weren't trying to break the record to raise awareness about an issue or to promote the transit system.
"It probably has something to do with a need for attention or perhaps blunt head trauma sustained at a young age," Green wrote.
"Which may be part of why it works," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. "It wasn't something you had to pick up from a press release from the Transit Authority or a pediatric center. It is two guys on a lark."
Thompson said a "complex calculus of forces" allow wacky stories like Green and Badaczewski's quest to become big news especially during the slow month of August.
"Sometimes a story like this comes along just when editors need stories like these. Part of it was timing. I bet if the news cycle was blowing a certain way there'd be no response. ... The barometric pressure was right for the story."
Wire reports contributed to this story.
MTA ridership soars 36 percent (Aug 24, 2006)
Poll: Breaking the riding record
Matt Green and Don Badaczewski (amNewYork Photo/Lane Johnson) (Aug 22, 2006)
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Notable deaths in 2006