< more recent | 26 MAR 2014 | older >


Another long marathon day today, as teams work their way across the erg Chegaga

26 MARCH 2014: The teams that slept near CP6, had it checked off by 6 a.m. just as it opened, then sped off in the direction of the last 8 checkpoints of this Marathon. They have two options for reaching CP7: drive a straight line across a chaotic zone of sand and rocks, or go down into Oued Draa and zig-zag along the dried river bed, taking an extra 30 km to reach the checkpoint.

Many choose to follow the Oued. CP7 leads to the vast expanse of the Chegaga dunes. Soon the more experienced (and more daring!) Gazelles are attacking the “X” route, while the others stick to their regular “ABCDE” route. In both cases, they will have at least twenty epic kilometres to cross in a magical landscape, with CP8 somewhere in the middle. And once they’re in the dunes, there’s no going back. Some teams prefer to go in as a group, this way when they get stuck they can help each other out. There’ll be no lack of shoveling today, and teams have sand ladders and shovels at the ready.

The dunes never seem to end. Just when you think you have reached the edge – and a wide plateau opens up like a clearing in the middle of a forest – there are more dunes. Getting through Chegaga proves particularly challenging for many teams and their vehicles. The large dunes give way to steeper, smaller dunes (1.5 to 2 m high) that are difficult to climb, and with a steep descent. The vehicles suffer. Team 160 (Elisabete Jacinto and Valérie Dot – VOLKSWAGEN VEHICULES UTILITAIRES) damage their oil pan again, just like they did last year. Fortunately, some other Gazelles give them some of their oil, so they can make it to CP14 then back to the bivouac.

After the dunes, there are still 5 checkpoints to find. The scenery is magnificent and looks like something you would see in an old Western: wide flat plains – a change from the dunes – across the dried lake bed of Lake d’Iriqui. Though there is no water in this “lake”: just a vast desert as far as the eye can see, interrupted here and there by the superb rocky outcrops of El M’Douaouer. The strategy here is to identify a feature and drive as straight a heading as possible towards it. A piece of cake for the navigation experts. And the novices are starting to get the hang of it too.

After this relatively “easy” stretch, the teams reach the rocky, winding trail that leads to the bivouac. The second marathon leg is over. Tomorrow is the last leg of the competition. Exhausted as they are, the Gazelles are determined to experience every remaining moment to the fullest!

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


Gazelles TV presents the fifth leg of the competition — The Second 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 – ETAPE5 by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles

M6 highlights from the fifth 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 – 25 mars by Rallye-Aicha-des-Gazelles


Team 171 USnomads picked up 8 of the 12 checkpoints over the this second 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 106th overall for this marathon leg.

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

Today's Top Ten - Marathon 2



Team 171 Marathon 2

The team’s track (white line) compared to the “straight line” course, as of the end of day two of the second marathon leg. Current live tracking in realtime is available from the official Gazelle Rally site here.



TINFOU / FOUM-ZGUID – Ideal distance 300 km – Estimated time 20:00
Marathon leg

During day 1, competitors were only allowed to complete seven out of the 14 checkpoints, which put them right at the base of the Chegaga dunes by nightfall. During the day, they encountered an endless series of extremely eroded mud flats and small dunes — no more than two meters –but still next to impossible to navigate in a straight heading. After spending the evening under the stars, they then took on the Chegaga dunes in the morning. Competitors could choose between the more difficult X checkpoints or the more reasonable checkpoints of their established groups. The next route after the dunes took them across Iriqui Lake, a dried lakebed with brilliant cliffs of M’daouer jutting up in the distance.


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 !


The Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a grueling nine-day off-road race across the Moroccan sahara, is one of the toughest motorsport events in the world. Using only a map and compass to navigate (GPS or electronic navigational aids are NOT allowed), the two-women teams must reach a series of checkpoints spread over the harshest desert terrain. The competition is a challenge of endurance and strategy, as teams must decide whether to go over obstacles or around them in an effort to complete the course with the least possible mileage. The winners are the team that reaches all the checkpoints via the shortest total distance. Learn more about the race…


Detailed weather: Errachida

25 March – Leg 5: 2nd Marathon Day 1
24 March – Leg 4: 1st Marathon Day 2
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



Driving a Jeep off-road across the Sahara presents a different set of challenges than the recreational offroading we are familiar with, so we went to Barlow Jeep School in Sedona, AZ, to learn the ins and outs of desert driving from an expert… [read]



How do they determine the route for the Rally? An advance team from the organization went out on a recon trip in November to select and pre-run the course. Check out this account from one of the members of the recon team, talking about what they were looking for in the terrain and how they made their determinations: english | français



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]

About Team 171 US Nomads
Team Training
Practical Matters
In Our Words
Team News
Contact Us

> 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 …

Copyright @ 2013 Team USnomads