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A difficult first marathon day crowned with a festive evening

Leg 5 MDJS | Marathon

This morning, the Gazelles set out for a very special leg: a marathon leg, lasting two days. The teams will sleep on their own out in the desert.

This morning, the Gazelles set out for a very special leg: a marathon leg, lasting two days. The teams will sleep on their own out in the desert. Something new, and the Gazelles are divided: “It’s a bit scary because until now we’ve always come back to the bivouac”, admits Virginie of Team 178 (Virginie MAUGER VENEZIAN / Corinne DERLON - Sadev94), on the start line. “It’s something new for us, a little extra challenge but it’ll be fine”, reassures her teammate Corinne. “Can’t wait for this evening”, enthuses Amel of Team 600 (Sihame NABIL (EL HORFI) / Amel NABIL (ELKHAL) - Sybelles.ski). “It’s finally here!” exclaims Alexa of Team 151 (Valérie THEILLIER / Alexa THEILLIER - Pack élite diffusion), who is looking forward to experiencing the magical evenings described by former Gazelles. Most plan to get together at a checkpoint to spend the evening together.

But before thinking about the evening ahead, Isabelle and Karine of Team 21 (Karine TEPPE / Isabelle LEMERCIER - OSCADI), are focusing their thoughts with the help of a Tibetan bong. And the Gazelles are going to need focus, with an intense day ahead starting with some difficult terrain. The teams are caught up in the game and taking chances for Leg 5! The Gazelles quickly get organized and the navigators guide their drivers across the rocky lunar landscape. “It’s so beautiful!” exclaims Vanessa of Team 118 (Vanessa COLSON / Pauline PHILIPPE - POMPES SEFAN). They encourage each other and applaud every obstacle overcome.

Gazelles in fine fettle

The Gazelles’ troubles are not over. The next pass is even more difficult. Jamila and Corinne of Team 147 (Corinne TISSERAND / Jamila FRUCHART - KOWA Company & WES Worldwide Exclusive Services) get stuck but hadn’t counted on the solidarity of the other teams who stop to help, including Anne-Marie of Team 190 (Anne-Marie BORG / Yolande BENS - CONSTRUCTIONS DU SUD OUEST - CSO), a Rallye regular. Anne-Marie offers advice and encouragement to the Gazelles, who are impressed. Meanwhile the navigators are “on vacation” and even get their cameras out to capture the moment, such as Delphine of Team 165 (Delphine BRIERE / Sylvie DAVID-BOULIN - Conseil National des Femmes Françaises ( CNFF)).

The Gazelles are in fine fettle and advancing well. “It’s going well today, compared to most days”, jokes Jamila of Team 152 (Jamila AZAÏS / Bérengère TRILLAT - AB FISH). Unfortunately, that is not the case for all teams. Some get a bit lost around CP3, like Patricia and Sylvie of Team 175 (Patricia JOLY / Sylvie GALLIOU - Didier Cisilotto). Patricia is disappointed, but Sylvie puts it in perspective: “It could be worse, we could be in the Metro”. Before continuing, they ask Charlotte and Hélène of Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE), winners of the 28th edition, for advice. To be sure not to make a mistake this time, Kiera and Sophie of Team 216 (Kiera CHAPLIN / Sophie TAPIE - https://www.sainthonore.com/en/) arrive on foot. “We thought it was too easy and we didn’t want to waste any kilometres”, explains Sophie.

The leaders are subjected to a body and vehicle search by the rally marshals, who check that the Gazelles do not have any prohibited equipment in their possession: GPS, obviously, but also electronic compasses, binoculars or a camera with a powerful zoom. “If you could find our compass that would be great”, jokes Camille of Team 142 (Mylène LECIEUX / Céline BOGDANSKI - HYLA EVOLUTION). Three marshal vehicles are criss-crossing the course to ensure that the rules are not broken.

A festive evening under the stars

The day advances and some Gazelles decide to stop at CP5 for the evening. “We’re going to take this chance to rest so we can resume the leg in good shape tomorrow”, explains Alice of Team 109 (ALICE LUTHY / CINDY PASCUAL - Lamalou immobilier). At CP5 of Route C, Anne-Sophie of Team 221 (Anne-Sophie AGUESSY / Lise LEBLANC-GARDELLE - PITCH PROMOTION) has set up a nice little camp in the enclosure of an abandoned inn. The plans for the evening include a campfire and good company! Even the CP official is invited to join in. “We’re stopping for an enjoyable evening”, confirms Catherine of Team 167 (Dianeba CISSOKHO / Catherine REGOJO GENOTAL - SNCF), who is convinced by the beauty of the surroundings. “We drove a good route today, we’ve earned it”, adds her teammate Dianeba. “It was intense so it’s a good idea to stop now”, says Céline of Team 132 (Céline MERIOT / Marie-Eve BAUDA - 4murs). Overall, the Gazelles are happy with their day and feel that they are improving.

A few kilometres away, another camp has appeared with teams from Routes A and C, about fifteen of whom have pitched their tents for the evening. Team 123 (Laurence HOURTICQ / Marie DE TAYRAC) soon arrive, shouting “Apéro, apéro!” It promises to be a festive evening! The Gazelles of Team 152 (Jamila AZAÏS / Bérengère TRILLAT - AB FISH) decide to wait for their friends to surprise them. The dinner menu includes champagne for the teams from Reims, as well as foie gras, cheeses… Teams share specialties from their region. Bérengère even heats up some duck thighs. The Crossover teams had planned to stop along the way to CP6. “We want to save some time for tomorrow because we’d like to get back early”, explains Frédérique of Team 312 (Frédérique ROBYR / Malika SCHMALZ - Consortium Entreprise Générale Patrick Schmalz et Dhome SA).




Dominique Serra has dedicated this 29th edition to Nasrin Sotoudeh – prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate – who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who took off their headscarves in public.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition for her release.