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In 1968 much of the world stopped to watch as around 100 crews set off on what was until then the world’s longest and most difficult marathon car rally ever, the Daily Express London to Sydney Marathon.

Never before in the annals of motorsport had such a difficult event been run and which attracted factory works teams, well-heeled privateers, the adventurous and the ill-prepared, and to all of those it was a huge drive into the unknown. Sixteen thousand kilometres later a lone Hillman Hunter crossed the finishing line at Sydney’s Warwick Farm racecourse to snare a victory which no-one had thought possible, and which had seen most of the fancied contenders fall by the wayside.

Some years later, the challenge of driving from the British capital to Sydney over some of the world’s worst roads and through many politically unsettled countries, caught the imagination of yet more motorsport fans. Further LSMs were run in 1993 and again in 2000 and 2004, and while there were some similarities with the route, each of these later events covered different parts of the world, yet all shared a common theme – they all started in London and finished in Sydney.

Now, in 2014, the challenge is starting all over again. However, to add yet more variety to the concept, next April’s event will run in the reverse direction – that is, from Sydney to London. And instead of the sting being in the tale through the Australian Outback, this time it will presumably be the final blast through some of Britain’s huge stands of softwood plantation, and which the organisers predict will determine a winner.

Also different to previous Marathons, the bulk of the 2014 stages in Europe will be on sealed roads, with only the Australian stages being run on loose surface. One of the only Australian similarities will be that, like many Marathons thus far, the city of Perth will be a major part of the Aussie route.

Cars will start in Sydney and, unlike previous events, the race to Perth will be directly across the top of Australia to Fremantle, bypassing legendary towns and little villages that formed an integral part of those four other marathons.

From here the cars will take to the sky in a giant Russian Antonov cargo plane (as was pioneered in the 1993 event), while competitors will fly in comfort in chartered aircraft to Antalya in Turkey. From Turkey it’s on to Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy and France, before crossing the English Channel and home.

It will be an interesting route that will leave European competitors back home in their own part of the world when the winner’s flag drops in Britain, not in some far away city “down under”.

The full entry fee is $US52,000 or you can opt to do just the Australian leg at only $US18,000, or just the European leg at $US23,000. Obviously the 2014 event is targeted at those with a real sense of adventure and suitably thick wallets, but what an experience it will be for those suitably equipped.

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