It's less than a week until XS Manchester producer and presenter Joe McGrath will race a tram between Deansgate and Piccadilly in Central Manchester, and the odds are changing every day regarding the likely winner.
We wanted to offer coverage of the race as soon as we became aware that Paddy Power were going as far as offering odds on the outcome, so we wrote about it in an article paying tribute to XS Manchester, and Joe McGrath, who will be going toe-to-toe with the tram on Thursday 13th June.
Chipping in with extra support to Joe McGrath only prompted more people showing an interest in the race on social media, and more debate sparked over who would win between a tram and a man within the provided parameters.
As the hype has continued to build over the bizarre challenge, we spoke to XS Manchester in an exclusive Oddschanger interview, where we were able to get some insight behind where the idea came from, how Joe's prepared for racing the tram, and details around how it could play out.
Oddschanger speaks to Joe McGrath and Adam Brown from XS Manchester
Q: Where did the idea to race a tram originally come from?
JM: "I think it was to do with the fact that I wanted to lose some weight. It was self improvement and as I was thinking about what I could do, like the Manchester 10k, London Marathon or anything like that, I thought it'd be quite funny to link it into racing something, and you can't just challenge people to a race these days. I know I could call my dad and go "what are you doing on Monday? Oh, nothing?...we're racing!", but I thought, let's race something that maybe doesn't know I'm racing it, so now I'm thinking the tram."
AB: "There was a slightly alternative story as well that was fun - a slight variation, in which he went 'I was doing some training for like, you know, 10ks and that, and then I just thought 'I could have a tram!''"
JM: "I did feel confidence in it! I think it was something to do with getting off at one station and seeing if you could beat it to the next. Now, the longevity of what we're doing obviously is going from Piccadilly Station to Deansgate because I'd never have it between Piccadilly Station and the [Piccadilly] Gardens, or even there and St Peter's Square. There needs to be a couple of stops in the middle."
Q: Are there a lot of variables that come into it?
JM: "There are - the tram can get quicker the least people that it has on it. Peak times, you've got to think, I've got to start running past people. I'll run on pavements, and the more people on there, the more people I've got to dodge, it hinders my time, I could trip. The tram - it's just got to track, hasn't it? Unless some maniac's on it - fingers crossed - I'm going to win."
Q: Has anyone hinted that they might help or hinder you along the way?
AB: "That's got to be people with far too much time on their hands! Very dedicated, that, isn't it?"
JM: "A guy called Luke that I haven't seen for a while, who's one of my mates on Facebook. He messaged me saying he's in a betting syndicate, and all of his mates are betting on the tram. Someone was going to bet £10,000 on the tram! That's what he said, but the max bet is about £120. What's happened is, basically, he sent me a friendly threat saying 'there is talk in the office about possibly kidnapping you whilst you're on the run to the tram', and I was like 'Oh, great. Wonderful'.
So, I don't think so. If someone's got money on me, I'm not going to get them to do anything, or if they try and get on the tram and they 'accidentally' leave one of their feet in the doors and the doors reopen. As my odds start going the other way and more people make more money on it, then someone will have my back. I'm 100% saying now that I will run independently. I'm not going to want anyone to do anything."
AB: "I like the fact that someone, somewhere who, at the moment, knows that they might sabotage it, and they're just at work at the minute like 'yeah, this time next week...!'. They've taken a day's holiday to come down!"
Q: On Tuesday, you were favourite. On Wednesday, you were both the same price. On Thursday, the tram was favourite. Is it fair for the tram to now be favourite?
JM: "Paddy Power have said that some chunky bets have been put on the tram, which has then made the traders think 'what's going on here? what do they know that we don't?', so they moved it down."
AB: "I love the fact that the tram driver doesn't know that he's in a race!"
Q: Is it going to be a typical Manchester tram or will it be a special one solely for this race?
AB: "Is it an extra fast one?"
JM: "No, because I think why I called the tram out was because there's nothing special about it. It has to stop at these two stops. That's why I thought it would be funny to do."
AB: "'That's why I called the tram out'?! It's like Anthony Joshua calling out Deontay Wilder!"
Q: What have you done to prepare for the race?
JM: "Carbs. I'm carbing it up! I'm going to take a break from running today but I'm back on it tomorrow. I don't know in terms of what to do the day before. Like, do I really have a big go of it the day before? Or, do I rest the day before and give it everything on the Thursday?"
AB: "I think maybe a day of rest. Maybe have just a light jog in the afternoon of the day before, and then don't go all in because you might do yourself some damage."
Q: Have you received a lot of support for the race?
JM: "No. No support. Amy at Paddy Power basically said that at the end of the first twenty-four hours, ninety percent of the betting was going to the tram, and I had two. You can figure out the maths there."
AB: "You can figure out who that is - his mum and his dad!"
JM: "Sadly, it was my dad and friend of the show, Dan Fisher, who tweeted us with his actual bet. £20! I bet he's gutted he didn't wait a bit because now the odds would've been better, but yeah, I know I've got two. Things have changed now. Paddy Power have been in touch, saying the market's swung a bit. Seventy-eight percent of people have gone for the tram, twenty-two percent have gone for me. The market's swung, and ten percent in my favour!"
Q: After this, what do you do to beat it?
JM: "There's been talks this morning of a boat race. There could be 'Man v Boat' if we can figure out how, in the canal possibly."
AB: "The boat's going to win."
JM: "Being a Greater Manchester [radio] station, there is a way that we could take the tram race to different parts. You could go to a Bury line, you could go to an Ashton line, you could go to a Didsbury line, and you know, that could be quite funny, but it depends if I win or not. You know, does the tram get a rematch? is it in the contract?"
AB: "It's like Ruiz and Joshua. He's entitled to it. If you beat the tram, does the tram get a mandatory rematch?"
JM: "No it doesn't! So, yeah, I think that's what we might do. If we can figure out 'Man v Boat' - happy days; if we can't - we're going to Bury! 'Man v Boat' or, there's a bike, 'Bike v Bus'. What other modes of transport are there? plane? you've got no chance!"
AB: "Watch this space, I suppose. He's known for crazy stunts, so we'll have to wait and see."
XS Manchester Man v Tram Odds - Paddy Power
Tuesday 4th June 2019
Tram - 5/4
Man - 8/11
Wednesday 5th June 2019
Tram - 5/6
Man - 5/6
Thursday 6th June 2019
Tram - 4/6
Man - 11/10
Monday 10th June 2019
Tram - 1/2
Man - 6/4