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The Gazelles holding course despite fatigue

Leg 5 MDJS | Marathon

The Gazelles have understood that there is no time to relax on this second marathon day, where every kilometres counts…

After a “magical” night in the desert among friends, the Gazelles are cheerful this morning.We slept in; it was lovely”, states Jamila of Team 152 (Jamila AZAÏS / Bérengère TRILLAT - AB FISH), who got up at 6 a.m. On the other hand, Valérie of Team 225 (Valérie SANTINI / Odile ALESSANDRI-CHIOLDI) missed Dominique’s little wakeup ritual. “I plan to record her message when she wakes us up on the last morning”, adds the Gazelle. Marie of Team 123 (Laurence HOURTICQ / Marie DE TAYRAC) is taking her time this morning and “taking the time to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes”. The day begins well for Team 199 (Marie-Noël RACICOT / Nadia MORENCY - Groupe Boombox), who “slept super well” at CP6. The teams leave their checkpoint and their campsite with the first rays of sunlight, wasting no time on this second marathon day.

After breaking down yesterday, Géraldine and Sylvie of Team 154 (Géraldine VIGIER / Sylvie GODEAU-GELLIE - LA CABANE DU ROUTIOUTIOU) are heading for the bivouac. They hope to be able to find the right part and repair their vehicle in time to start Leg 6. They must say goodbye to all chance of a good ranking finish, but keep smiling and take it philosophically despite their disappointment. They stop at CP7 to say hello to their fellow Gazelles, who arrive little by little. Moving on from the “struggles” of the day before, the Gazelles of Team 180 (Carine HEDOU / Julie COUSIN - Vignobles Olivier Carême) are savouring the start to the day. Laetitia and Juliette of Team 116 (Laetitia LAFON / Juliette MAS DAMOUR - Charente Pliage) reach the checkpoint with a high five and cries of joy! Others are having more difficulty… Several Gazelles end up at the wrong checkpoint and count on other teams to help them recalculate. “It doesn’t matter, we’ll keep going because we’re Gazelles”, declares Odile of Team 225 (Valérie SANTINI / Odile ALESSANDRI-CHIOLDI).

Other Gazelles are focusing on the rankings and attempting to drive the shortest possible distance. That is the case for Alia and Léa of Team 191 (Léa BAUDIER / Alia BOUCHAMA - BMCE BANK), who grumble when they realize that they did 600 m over the ideal distance between CP6 and CP7. But there’s no time to dwell on it: they must keep going if they hope to reach every checkpoint before nightfall. The Gazelles cover kilometre after kilometre across majestic scenery: from steppes reminiscent of the African savannah to rocky lunar landscapes. They soon reach CP9 with an effusion of joy! Fatigue is starting to take its toll; every checkpoint is a small victory! Others are realizing why it is called a “marathon” leg: endurance is key to success.

Alexandra of Team 20 (Catherine KERAMIDAS / Alexandra CHAPUIS - EIFFAGE - CBA) also reaches CP9, but doesn’t understand how they got there. “We went too far off course, but we’re pleased with ourselves because we’re triangulating really well”, observes Catherine. They are not the only ones to make mistakes. Valérie and Frédérique of Team 32 (Frédérique GREGOIRE / Valérie FONTAINE - AUTOCONTROLEPONTOIS) arrive, convinced that they are in the right place, only to have their hopes dashed. The Gazelles de la Team 20 (Catherine KERAMIDAS / Alexandra CHAPUIS - EIFFAGE - CBA) happily show them the heading they need to take to reach their checkpoint. That’s “Gazelle spirit” in action! Just three more checkpoints to go before the bivouac, which has moved to Oulad Driss, a bit further south.




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.