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It’s all over!

Leg 6 | Marathon

Last day, last map, last triangulations, last moments in the desert. After a night in the famous Chegaga dunes, under brilliant starry skies, the Gazelles will play on the Moroccan desert one last time…


The mission: get out of the dunes

This morning, the goal is to get off the du mountain. Whichever route they choose, the Gazelles cross erg Chegaga with more or less difficulty. Team 190 (Anne-Marie BORG / Yolande BENS - CONSTRUCTIONS DU SUD OUEST - CSO) is at CP6 of Route X at 6:30 a.m., before day breaks, after sleeping 500 metres from the CP. Today the Gazelles want to give it their all. There is a traffic jam between CP6 and CP7. The crests of the dunes are crawling in vehicles.It’s time to get out of here, it’s too crowded.” comments Team 196 (Florence PHILIP / Valérie PRIOUL - Saint Fort Auto). Team 191 (Léa BAUDIER / Alia BOUCHAMA - BMCE BANK) gets stuck three times in the dunes: “It’s hard. We’re fed up.” The Gazelles are tired; faces are drawn. It’s important to judge carefully: enough gas, but not too much. This careful balance must be found and felt. Let’s go Gazelles, you’re nearly there! The podium teams are driving together: “we’re 700 metres from CP7 but I think we went off course quite a bit in the hollows” remarks Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI - AFFI MOBILE). There are tracks everywhere but they are far from the CP. It’s long, even for the seasoned Gazelles. The odometer turns slowly, as they seek to follow a straight line.

To the nearest metre

Once they escape the lovely hills of sand, the Gazelles know they will soon be able to make their way to the bivouac. But it’s not over after CP7: they still have a kilometre of small dunes. And, naturally, a few more difficulties. Difficulties which could affect the rankings, which are close, within a matter of kilometres. This final day is decisive. At CP7, Team 151 (Valérie THEILLIER / Alexa THEILLIER - Pack élite diffusion) studies the terrain: « I don’t know if we’re going to get up, we don’t have much power” says Alexa to her mother. They watch the other Gazelles getting across… And they get across too. Next, time for Lake Iriqui and its baseless mountain, dry and dusty. There are also the M’daouer cliffs.

Hard to stick to a heading

The afternoon is long and hot. Team 128 (Emelyne YGON-PERIS / Anne-Claire VALLAT - LeBistrot Pse @lebistrot.pse) is first to reach CP8 on Route C. They take their time to enjoy a picnic in the shade of a tamarisk. Seated on their small cushions, they finish the provisions they brought. “It went super well! We were worried because, two years ago, we struggled in the sand and we wanted to take our revenge. We had such a good time, we trusted ourselves and we were right.” Now they just need to plot the rest of the points to have a precise idea of the distances. Team 225 (Valérie SANTINI / Odile ALESSANDRI-CHIOLDI) also reach the checkpoint. But it’s not the right one… They missed the checkpoint on Route F, which is nearby, 300 metres south-west. Team 122 (Cécile DOUCHEZ / Nadège OBOEUF - GMD) siphon for fear of not having enough diesel to finish. But their compensation is to see a real (4-footed) gazelle on Lake Iriqui.

Time to party!

Many teams do not reach all of their checkpoints. But that doesn’t matter: they did it! Bravo to all our Gazelles. The finish line is witness to pride, joy, relief and strong emotions. And regret that it is already over. The sound of horns is stilled. They pose for a final rally-style photo. Some joke that they want to sleep in their vehicle. And they collect their telephones! Now it’s time for one last festive night at the bivouac before returning to civilization. Tomorrow, the Gazelles will make the long drive to Essaouira, where another world and other marvels await.




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.