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Calibration of odometers in the morning and a sample of what the course will be like in the afternoon.

19 MARCH 2014: The day started out with a “calibration” of odometers. Each team drove a distance of exactly 20 km and the distance indicated on their odometer was noted by the officials. A coefficient will be calculated for each vehicle, which will be used to ensure that all kilometres are equal during the Rallye.

The Gazelles arrive at the bivouac at noon, in time to set up their tents before posing for a group photo. Then the teams line up in the starting grid for the “Prologue” — a small sampling of what the competition will be like, but with only 3 checkpoints and no major difficulties. This 45-km looped leg serves as a warmup for the start of the real competition tomorrow. Relatively flat terrain, straightforward navigation with easy to identify features… The 3 checkpoints shouldn’t pose too many problems for the Gazelles, unless they let themselves be lulled into a false sense of confidence: even an easy route requires concentration and vigilance!

The prologue got off to a good start; just 40 minutes in some teams had already reached their first checkpoint, despite its location in the bottom of a oued, hidden from view. The teams are learning that there is a world of difference between theory and practice.

As the day progresses, some Gazelles drive in circles, not seeing the flag that they plotted so carefully even though it should be “right there.” The desert can be deceptive and a seemingly flat plain hides many nooks and crannies. Another challenge: the strips of sand, which many Gazelles try to avoid, though a few teams go straight into the small dunes for practice.

“The prologue went very well, overall. At 7:00, only a dozen teams were still out on the course, manoeuvring between crazy desert grass and dried oeuds… Three teams had to call for mechanical assistance after getting stuck in sand or camel grass,” stated rally organizers.

As teams returned to the bivouac, they lined up for what is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the event for some people who are accustomed to always being connected: no more Instagram or Facebook, no selfies, no text messages, no more “Hang on… I’m checking my email!”… In short, the Gazelles hand in their cell phones and any other forbidden electronic devices to Rallye officials.

For more live coverage of Today’s event from the official Rally site: English | Français


Gazelles TV presents the Prologue [Sorry for the obligatory advertisement at the start of this clip, it comes as part of the embedded resource, not our site.]

GAZELLES TV 2014 – PROLOGUE by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles

M6 highlights from the Prologue [Sorry for the obligatory advertisement at the start of this clip, it comes as part of the embedded resource, not our site.]

M6 – Gazelles 2014 – 21 mars by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles





NEJJAKH / NEJJAKH – Ideal distance 45 km – Estimated time 2:00 (Looped leg)

Compass – check… Map – check… Road book – check … Start your engines… And they’re off!
The prologue provides an initiation to the terrain and the process, giving new Gazelles a chance to understand what is expected over the next week. Relatively flat terrain, straightforward navigation, everything is in place to allow the Gazelles to practice their driving and map reading skills under the best possible conditions. The bivouac will never be far away, but they will need to pay attention: possible pitfalls lurk around every “bend in the road” — a situation that the Gazelles will have to face many times during the 10 days to come. The prologue provides an initial ranking that is used only to establish the departure grid for the next day.


USnomads, c’est l’histoire d’une amitié de plus de 20 ans, qui s’est construite à travers le temps, les cultures, les expériences de la vie et des voyages. Seule l’union de deux caractères forts et respectueux l’un de l’autre explique que nous soyons arrivées à nos fins dans chacun de nos défis.

Ceci est notre première participation au Rallye des gazelles et nous ne sommes pas des professionels, mais JoMarie a une certaine expérience de l’Afrique et des situations d’urgence. D’autre part, elle s’est totalement investie dans la préparation de cette course et Isabelle s’est récemment mise à la navigation.

Le Rallye des gazelles dans le désert marocain sera le théâtre d’une nouvelle épreuve pour nous : une Jeep, une boussole, une carte et tout le pouvoir de notre volonté d’y parvenir fera le reste.

Ce défi sportif s’inscrit dans un projet humain plus large, celui de traverser le désert du Sahara d’Ouest en Est dans l’espoir d’accompagner les équipes d’ONG dans leurs micro-projets d’aide aux peuplades nomades locales. JoMarie en produira un film documentaire qui donnera à mieux connaitre les hommes de cette partie du monde.

L’équipe 171 prendra fièrement son envol le 15 mars 2014 avec toutes les autres participantes ! Et que les meilleures gagnent !

Mais quelle valeur et quelle portée aurait cette leçon de vie, si nous n’étions pas soutenues par l’amour de nos proches, de nos amis et de tous ceux qui nous entourent. Merci !


Team USnomads is proud to support the work of MothersToMothers, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that recognizes the ability of mothers to change their destiny. MothersToMothers, founded by Pamela Parlapiano, partners with local women to create community supported day care and learning centers that change lives. Their model project in Amacho Wato Kebele, Ethiopia, has shown how with just a little help, the mothers in the community can improve the lives of a whole village. Please join us in supporting their efforts to take this successful model to more villages: Donate to MothersToMothers here. (Note that all donations go 100% directly to MothersToMothers).


Detailed weather: Errachida

18 March – To Erfoud
17 March – Ferry to Tangiers
16 March – To Barcelona
15 March – Paris Presentation
14 March – Technical Verification day
8 to 13 Mar 2014 – Paris: Preparations




The stretch of California desert known as Anza Borrego has a lot of similarities with parts of the Sahara and as such is a perfect place to work on the terrain recognition skills that will help us navigate off-road without a GPS during the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles… [read]

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A photo storyboard featuring Team USnomads and some lessons learned during a recent training exercise in Anza Borrego. Putting the driving and navigating together in a real desert environment, the team completed an independent land navigation simulation as part of the preparation for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles 2014… [read]

> Team US Nomads is training hard to face the challenges of a Sahara crossing like no other. The first step in their journey is the 2014 Rally Aicha des Gazelles. Find out more about the team and their inspiration …
> A true test of endurance, the Gazelle rally pushes teams to their limits in a struggle to overcome the harshest terrain in the Moroccan Sahara. The key to success is a seamless combination of off-road driving abiility, land navigation skills and strategic thinking. Learn more about this unique race …
> Team US Nomads is working to connect people across borders and cultures in a true exchange. This includes a series of humanitarian efforts to assist communities in the region undertaken with the rally organization and other NGO partners. Discover how we are doing good as we go …
> Team US Nomads needs your support. Whether you represent a corporate organization interested in sponsoring the team, a humanitarian group that would like to find out more about working with us in the Sahara, or if you would just like to follow along with the adventure, we want to hear from you. Find out how to get involved …

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