Land’s End to John O’Groats

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After 1500 miles over five legs, from the southernmost tip of the UK, to its most northern, in 75 hours, the 2023 Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trial came to an end at a fine and sunny John O’ Groats in sharp contrast to the dire conditions the crews had endured during the event.  Along the way the competitors experienced some of the most extreme weather to beset the rally in a very long time, helping to decimate the field, with just 27 from the 44 crews that came from across Europe making it to the end.  Of those 27, just four Gold Medals were awarded, as a combination of mechanical difficulties, driving incidents and fatigue made the achievement of those that did reach the end all the more remarkable. 

Andy Lane and Iain Tullie have become the most decorated of Joggers with no fewer than seven gold medals each after a skilful performance on both sides of their BMW 2002 Tii

This edition marked 30 years since the first LeJog in 1993, and if there was ever an edition that stuck to the original idea of endurance laid down by John Brown and those first founders, then this was it, as it went according to John’s original script.

One pair that exited the event due to mechanical woes was John and Robert Kiff, who are amongst the most successful to ever compete.  The wheels quite literally came off their challenge this year, when they lost a right front on the chaotic second leg, ruining any chance of adding another medal to their VW Beetle’s tally over 30 years.

Thomas Koerner was one of only four to achieve gold Photos Will Broadhead and Blue Passion Courtesy HERO

Experience and medal-winning history count for nothing in blizzards and black ice.  Ask Greek driver Nicholas Maris and Yorkshireman Henry Carr who slid off twice, once down a steep bank to be winched out by a media team.  Motorcycle racer Mike Farrell and navigator Zak Burns also went off the road twice, bruising their Ford Escort Mexico, the second time so far down a steep bank, thankfully without injury, that the car’s rescue was thought to be a lost cause.  Somehow against the odds, they miraculously reappeared in time to see the Maris/Carr 240Z winched up another slippery slope further along the route.  Six-time gold medal winners were not immune either, as Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage were forced to retire their Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint after three punctures left them stranded with no spares.

Richard White and Bernard Northmore (Volvo Amazon) were one of only three teams to take home silver medals

Of those that finished, only four managed to achieve the standard required to win a gold medal.  This isn’t a competition in the traditional sense.  There are no outright winners, you either achieve a medal or a blue riband, or you don’t.  However, even for those that made it to the finish without troubling the medals table, the very fact that they have driven under the arch to the Pipers salute after such conditions is something very special.

Manuel Dubs and Fabrizio Arrigucci from Switzerland interrupted thier run to rescue Nicholas Maris and Henry Carr. The latter
needed rescuing twice

Of special mention have to be Andy Lane and Iain Tullie who have become the most decorated of Joggers with no fewer than seven gold medals each after a skilful performance on both sides of their BMW 2002 Tii.  Said Lane, “This has been absolutely the toughest LeJog yet, I have never known anything like this!”

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