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Day two of the first marathon leg of the rally brings the teams to a new bivouac at Tinfou

24 MARCH 2014: They call it the marathon leg. It’s long, grueling, and a true test of character. Yesterday morning, competitors packed tents, sleeping bags, food for 48-hours and collected their maps and headed south into the desert. One of the biggest tests of the rally, the marathon leg (the first of two) takes the Gazelles through some of the most desolate and beautiful terrain in the country.

This morning, the teams pack up their tents and set off. They have six more checkpoints to get through today. Most of the teams are starting at CP 6, but some still need to check in at CP 5 before continuing the course. There have been a few calls for mechanical assistance yesterday, and already early this morning a few more.

On the way to CP 7 they will cross the vast sandy plains of Oued Bou Haira, where the colour of the dunes resembles the coral of their vests. Curious formations shaped like tables and tajine dishes loom on the horizon. The routes are long and sometimes criss-cross: it’s enough to confuse anyone! Exhausted after 4 non-stop days, some Gazelles start to crack. Tears, moments of self-doubt. This is where solidarity comes into play. After a kind word, a tap on the back, a willing ear, they are ready to carry on.

The sand is followed by rocks… too many rocks, and a trail leading nowhere! A group of Gazelles make a U-turn: No pass here. Off they go in search of the twelfth and final red flag, and then the bivouac.

By 3pm the first teams start trickling in to the new bivouac. Some teams decide to skip the last few checkpoints to make it in before dark. By 11:30PM the last stragglers reached the bivouac, and all the Gazelles had made it to base.

Leg 4 is over, but tomorrow is another two-day marathon. The adventure continues!

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


Gazelles TV presents the fourth leg of the competition — The First Marathon. [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 – ETAPE4 by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles

M6 highlights from the fourth leg of the competition [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 – LEG 4 by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles


Team 171 USnomads picked up 8 of the 12 checkpoints over the two day marathon, with a total “penalty” of 441.8 for the two days (the value of the missed CPs plus the extra kilometers driven over the “ideal” course). The team ranked 67th among First-time Participants and 107th overall for this marathon leg.

Here’s the top ten 4×4 teams in today’s leg of the competition:

Top Ten - First marathon



The team’s track (white line) compared to the “straight line” course, at the end of Day Two of the First Marathon (Leg 4) (click the image for a larger view). Current live tracking in realtime is available from the official Gazelle Rally site here.



LEG 4: MECH IRDANE/TINFOU MARATHON – Ideal distance 325 km – Estimated time for total Marathong distance 20:00

After a tiring day in the sand, it is time for the first marathon leg of the rally. The marathon consists of more than 320 kilometres in complete autonomy, with no mechanical assistance in the evening, no refuelling, a makeshift camp and 12 CPs to check off over the course of two days. The difficulties will start early on the first day. The Gazelles will need to navigate with precision, avoid rushing ahead blindly and choose their route wisely. Until the third CP, the landscape is rugged, the map is difficult to read, and the terrain extremely difficult to cross. Navigation is the key, as the slightest error in trajectory could prove very costly. Things get easier after CP4 as green plains stretch out as far as the eye can see, though there are greater distances to cover between checkpoints. The night will be spent out in the desert under a starry sky far from the bustle of the bivouac, a well-deserved good night’s sleep awaits…

The second day of the marathon will take the Gazelles across the sandy plains of Oued Bou Haiara. While the sand may not be as majestic as Erg Chebbi, it is not necessarily less treacherous — the reconnaissance team took almost 3 hours to drive across a sandy zone no more than 150 m wide. Once again it will be essential to choose the right path; absolute trust required between navigator and driver. After two days out in the desert, it will be good to be back at the bivouac tonite.


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).


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 !


Detailed weather: Errachida

23 March – Leg 4: 1st Marathon Day 1
22 March – Leg 3: Merzouga
21 March – Leg 2: Nejakh North
20 March – Leg 1: Nejakh South
19 March – Prologue
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



Precise navigation will be key to a good performance in the Gazelle rally. From how carefully we plot our lines on the map to how well we can maintain a straight track while driving off-road, the smallest errors can add up quickly… [read]




A photo storyboard highlighting some of the challenges posed during a multi-day off-road run through the dunes of Desierto de Altar in Mexico with Tierra del Sol. The annual trip offered plenty of opportunities to get intimate with sand … [read]

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> 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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