It cost an estimated $22 million dollars to stage, covered 16,000 kilometres through 11 countries and three continents over 11 days, plus 9 days on the P&O liner, the Chusan, between Bombay and Perth. It attracted a field of 98 crews, and was won by a crew who the bookies never rated highly, driving one of the least-sporting cars in the event, a humble Hillman Hunter.

The incentive? A first prize of $21,500 and the glory of winning. That event was the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, which left London’s Crystal Palace sports stadium on Sunday afternoon, November 24, 1968, and finished at Sydney’s Warwick Farm racecourse on Tuesday, December 17.

There have been a number of London – Sydney Marathons held since that time, some successfully, some not so successfully, but there is no doubt that the 1968 event was not only the first trans-continent event, but also the one that attracted the most media attention, and became the most watched event since the days of the Redex, Ampol and Mobil trials of the 1950s and 60s.

Many of us can remember that event from 40 years ago. Some of us were spectators, service crew members and control officials. Others are too young to remember much about it, but have heard our fathers reminiscing about this exciting event and telling tales of being part of the huge crowds that turned out to see it in out-of-the-way places across Australia.

Certainly the Police remember it! From angry Police running a fine-toothed comb over the rally cars as they rolled onto Fremantle wharf from the SS Chusan, to Police chasing speeding drivers into the Edi control near Wangaratta, and yet more Police tailing competitors through Cooma in NSW where leading drivers, like Paddy Hopkirk, christened the police as “Gestapo”, there was a constant police presence right across Australia.

But that was not entirely unexpected – the Fremantle to Sydney leg of the Marathon, all 5400 kilometres of it, was to be covered in an allotted time of 67 hours 19 minutes. That’s a non-stop average speed of more than 80 kilometres an hour for more than two and a half days over some of the most inhospitable country in Australia.

But if the desert tracks from Perth to Port Augusta was tough, even tougher was the 800 kilometre route through the Australian Alps that had to be driven at night or in the early morning. There were kangaroos and wild animals to contend with, thick fog, dust, and the inevitable ticking of the clock counting down the time left to get to the finish at Sydney’s Warwick Farm, with the least loss of points.

There have been other Marathons, other Round Australias, other Re-Run events, but this November’s Re-Run of that last, daunting 800 kilometres will be an adventure not to be missed. The route to be used will follow that 1968 route where possible, using the original route instructions, and where that route is no longer a challenge due to roads being upgraded or sealed, the Re-Run will use the 1993 route, which is equally as challenging.

The whole tour will take three days (November 24, 25 and 26), with two overnight stops in 2008-style accommodation, and will travel in a 20-vehicle convoy through some awesome country.

As of mid-July, only 12 places remain for people to lodge an Expression of Interest”, with enquiries steadily coming in.

If you would like to be part of this Re-Run, you should fill out the EOI form and forward it with a refundable deposit of $100 to RallySport Promotions to secure your spot in the tour.

Your tour guides will be well known rallying figures, Jeff and Peter Whitten, so you know that you will be in good hands all the way.

Don’t miss this special 40th Anniversary LSM Re-Run and relive some of Australia’s best rally history.


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