In life, there are friendly crushes. This was the case for Nadège and Delphine. Both gendarmes in Franche-Comté, they met ten years ago, when they were preparing for the judicial police officer exam, one in the Jura and the other in Haute-Saône. Very quickly, the two women discover common points and become accomplices. Over the assignments, they end up finding themselves in the company of Montbéliard, and rub shoulders all the more outside of work, surrounded by their families. It is around a barbecue that Delphine’s husband finally submits the idea to them: why not try the adventure of Gazelle Rally ?
A common project
Nadège and Delphine learn about and appreciate the concept of this 100% female competition, in 4X4 in the Moroccan desert. Existing since 1990, it is not a speed race, but an orienteering one, since the participants must complete this off-road course, covering as few kilometers as possible, using only a map and of a compass.
In addition, the rally is done with respect for the environment and with a spirit of solidarity with local populations, supported by the “Rallye Coeur de Gazelles” association, which builds wells, provides school and medical equipment, etc.
But the adventure has a price: 28,000 euros to be found in a limited time, to meet all the expenses (registration fees, purchase of the vehicle, transport by boat, etc.). More motivated than ever and supported by those around them, the two women will move heaven and earth to raise funds. They are looking for sponsors and carry out several operations to finance their project: the creation and sale of a special crest, the organization of a cabaret show, a flea market or even a raffle.
Moreover, it is not a question of rolling mechanics without knowing a minimum. Also, the friends take driving and navigation courses. The gendarmerie even offers them training with the garage workshop to be sure to see them come back!
An unforgettable first experience
This is how, in mid-March 2018, the two accomplices left work, husbands and children, to embark on the adventure, aboard a Nissan Navara 4X4 pick-up. Each naturally finds its place because of its aptitudes: Nadège in piloting, Delphine in navigation. But the 2,000 km off-road course remains strewn with pitfalls. From the start of the race, while they admire the desert landscape and take the time to take selfies, they get stuck in the sandbanks which soften under the blazing sun. “There are days with and days without! We could get stuck in the sand, go round in circles, or even break down. Sometimes there is no choice but to call mechanical assistance, but this generates a penalty”, explains Nadege. However, no tension will come to tarnish this beautiful parenthesis: “The idea was really to forget yourself for ten days. We made the most of it. In addition, solidarity is omnipresent between the crews. » Above all, the trip leaves them with wonderful memories: the sincere exchanges with the local population, the bivouacs near the fire, where the magic of the Milky Way operates, the adrenaline generated when overcoming certain obstacles… A real flood of emotions …
“We had come in search of adventure, self-transcendence, solidarity and we were not disappointed”, they say. On arrival, the two accomplices finish 101e out of a total of 165 crews. “An honorable result for beginners “, recognizes Nadège.
A new challenge
Upon their return, the two gendarmes organize an evening to thank those around them and all the partners who have supported them. ” On this occasion, we told them that we would be delighted to go back “, they say. Determined and swing by nature, the two women do not want to stop there. In order to win places in the general classification, they want to go on an adventure on the occasion of the 30e edition of the rally, initially scheduled for March 13 to 28, 2020. “The first time was a discovery. Now that we know, we want to test ourselves and give our best for the competition “, explains Nadège.
To this end, they mobilize all their energy to find the budget necessary to finance the project: the transfer of part of the profits on the sales of partner merchants, but also the sale of a new patch, embroidered “Team gazelles bleues” , as they like to call themselves. After training in real conditions during a piloting and navigation course in Erg Chegaga in mid-February, they feel ready to take up the challenge. But as D-Day approaches, the health crisis arises, and instead of flying to the Moroccan desert, they find themselves confined. ” The rally has been postponed five times! The 30e edition was finally able to take place in September 2021, but it was no longer possible for us in terms of professional organization “, explains Nadège.
Here we go again for the rally!
Never mind, the two women manage to re-register for the 31e edition, which will take place from March 18 to April 2. ” It was necessary to find additional funding to assume certain costs that appeared linked to the Covid: masks, bottles of hydroalcoholic gel, self-tests and above all cancellation insurance in the event of a new unforeseen event. “, she points out. These two balls of energy have also planned to organize a new cabaret show next September, ” to thank everyone, cover our costs and donate, if necessary, the surplus to an association. »
If the duo has again trained to orient themselves on a map through various exercises, piloting in the desert remains a distant memory, Morocco having only reopened its borders on January 31. Nevertheless, the two gendarmes remain confident. ” It’s like cycling, you can’t forget it and it will come back very quickly, as soon as we are on the sand. That’s all we wish for them. See you at the finish line to find out their ranking and their impressions of this second experience!