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Classic Marathon 2023 | The Original Classic Rally Returns for 30th Edition

Ultra-competitive field to fight for win on roads of Slovenia, Austria and Croatia.

2000 Kms in 6 days, the rally that started it all, still has ‘Endurance’ at its core.

Classic Marathon 2023 | The Original Classic Rally Returns for 30th Edition

The Classic Marathon is arguably the one that started it all, way back in 1988. Over the years the event has changed, but it still holds true to its principles with endurance at its core and with 2000 km’s being clocked across 6 days, crews will no doubt be excited and apprehensive in equal parts.

This is the 30th edition of the Marathon, a milestone that heralds an achievement as much as it does an anniversary and it underlines the Marathon’s perennial appeal, as well as highlighting it as very much a modern classic in the world of classic motoring events. The pearl edition will begin in Bled, Slovenia, a place that the Marathon has frequented before, and before it finishes will visit Croatia and Austria on a European loop worthy of the Marathon moniker.

The field is a mix of those seeking extended European adventure for the first time, and those very much looking to win, including the last Classic Marathon winner, Paul Crosby. Paul will be seeking to win three in a row, but with his long-standing navigator Andy Pullan having moved over to the dark side and now being part of the rally organisation, he will have Ali Proctor sat in the maps seat. They will no doubt be pushed hard by the chasing pack which is made up of HERO Cup winners, Golden Roamer champions and many that have lifted trophies on everything from one day events through to the longest and toughest endurance rallies.

The competition will play out across the quiet roads of Slovenia and Austria, with a short sojourn into Croatia. The route will very much be a mountainous one, with a mix of tarmac and gravel roads winding through dense forest and ‘Sound of Music’ countryside, as well as the day trip around the Istrian Peninsula to provide some contrast to the heady heights of the Alps. Whilst the backdrops will be stunning, the drivers, and certainly the navigators will likely have little time to take in the vistas, as eyes will very much be on the job at hand as they anxiously attempt to incur as few penalties as possible, although the accumulation of these will be inevitable.

As well as all of the high altitude regularity action there will be a number of tests for those with an itchy right foot to get stuck into, although with so many ups and downs in terms of topography, it will be important to not stress the machines too much, after all, to finish first, first you must finish.

For those that do finish though, arriving back at Bled six days after beginning from the same spot, the achievement can be celebrated, and although only one crew can win outright, the journey should be such that crossing the line will provide ample reasons to toast the adventure, regardless of who lifts the trophy. The allure and magic of the Marathon is more than just winning you see, the thrill of an extended event through incredible roads, often well off the beaten track, is an event in itself. Once it has the added sparkle of some competition as well, it elevates it into the event that the Classic Marathon has developed into, an event that retains its magic, event on its 30th edition.

Here is a sample of some of the illustrious names and winners who have responded to the call of the Classic Marathon:

Top three from 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2021.


1st John Atkins and Rob Lyall – Cobra

2nd John Chatham and Ken Bartram – Austin Healey 3000

3rd Luca Grandori and Tonio Tognana – Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA


1st Henry Pearman & Gordon Cruickshank – Jaguar E-Type

2nd David Thompson & Eddie Ganderton – Ford Lotus Cortina

3rd Stirling Moss & Jean Lindamood – MGB Roadster


1st Paddy Hopkirk & Alec Poole – Morris Mini Cooper S

2nd Ron Gammons & Paul Easter – MGB

3rd Stirling Moss & Chuck Shields – MGB


1st Ronnie McCartney & Beatty Crawford – Austin Mini Cooper S

2nd Jeremy Coulter & Paul Howcroft – Morris Mini Cooper S

3rd Donal McBride & Austin Frazer – Austin Healey 3000


1st Charles Colton & Guy Woodcock – Porsche 911

2nd Jayne Wignall & Kevin Savage – Sunbeam Tiger

3rd John Korrison & Peter Rushworth – Sunbeam Tiger


1st Chas Colton & Ryan Pickering – Porsche 911 2.0 SWB

2nd Paul Bloxidge & Andy Pullan – Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7

3rd Howard Warren & Matthew Warren – Porsche 911 2.0 SWB


1st Paul Crosby & Andy Pullan – Porsche 911

2nd Daniel Gresly & Elise Whyte – Porsche 911 SWB

3rd Marcus Anderson & Matthew Lymn Rose – Jaguar E-Type Series 1


1st Paul Crosby & Andy Pullan – Porsche 911

2nd Mark Godfrey & Sue Godfrey – MG B

3rd Marcus Anderson & Matthew Lymn Rose – Jaguar E-Type

Just some of the illustrious names from the Classic Marathon world, past and present; John Haughland, Timo Makinen, Jan Ebus, Rob Lyall, Tony Mason, Marion Herold, Ron Gammons, Richard Martin-Hurst, Guy Woodcock, Andrew Cowan, Paul Crosby, Rauno Aaltonen, Evan Mackenzie, Alec Poole, Elise Whyte, Ronnie McCartney, Sir Stirling Moss, Ryan Pickering, Paul Easter, Andrew Cowan, Sue Godfrey, Andy Pullan, Beatty Crawford, Chas Colton, Matt Warren, Leigh Powley, Denise Metzger, Roger Clark, Paddy Hopkirk, Jayne Wignall, Henry Pearman, Stephen Owens, David ‘Piggy’ Thompson, John Chatham, Gijs van Lennep, Howard Warren.

The 2023 entry will follow in the wheel tracks of competitors over the last thirty years, hoping at least to get their names at the top of their class sheets by the finish. The top three on the podium will very much deserve the accolade of conquerors of the Classic Marathon and rightly enter the rally Hall of Fame to sit alongside famous names of the past who have helped etch this event in rally history.

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