LEG 4 – MARATHON
DAR KAOUA / OULAD DRISS
LEG 4 – MARATHON
DAR KAOUA / OULAD DRISS
After 4 days of grappling with maps and vehicles, it’s time for a change of scenery and the discovery of new horizons to the south.
This first marathon leg covers more than 265 kilometres on paper (more than 320 km in reality) in complete autonomy, with no mechanical assistance in the evening, no refuelling, a makeshift campsite, and a dozen checkpoints to reach in two days.
The first day offers nothing less than “Gazelles Hell” as it is known by the Organization. Every year during the terrain reconnaissance, the team rails against the apprentice cartographer who drew up the maps of this area. They are sketchy at best, and the missing details make it incredible difficult to read the maps and the terrain with any precision. One can get lost with disconcerting ease. The Gazelles will then leave this area for wide plains that seem to stretch forever, with longer distances between checkpoints. Let’s hope the wind doesn’t rise, making the features more difficult to recognize. And then, as it’s the 30th anniversary and quite frankly it would have been disappointing not to do it, it’s the return of the “carte blanche” or “blank map”. Certain sectors of the map for this first day have been deliberately “erased”. Of course, that makes everything a lot more challenging, but not impossible. There is more risk, as the terrain is impossible to anticipate, and choices must be made on the spot. Can I get through those mountains or not ? Do I turn around now, or do I keep going and try to get through? The choices made in this sector could end up shaping a first version of the top 10.
This will be the Gazelles’ first night away from the hustle and bustle of the bivouac. Just the sound of the wind rustling their tents !
Day 2 of Leg 4. While pink and yellow dominate the landscape, shades of ochre, red, grey, black and even green can also be seen on the plain of Hassi Bou Haïara. On one side, a oued that attracts sand and dust like a magnet. On the other, a fantastical landscape dotted with “tajines” and jagged mountains that wouldn’t be out of place in the background of a 1960s spaghetti western. It’s an ideal playground for Gazelles ! The headings are tight and the terrain is harsh. The Gazelles will have to fight all day long to avoid losing their bearings while contending with sand and rocky terrain. As the day progresses, the routes gradually come together to converge on the great Tafenna cirque and then the new bivouac in Oulad Driss. The teams will sleep in the comfort of the bivouac and leave their vehicles in the capable hands of the mechanics, who will make sure they are ready to tackle Leg 5, in terra incognita !
Some thirty teams are still a ways away from the bivouac. Team 145 is the farthest from the finish line.
90 teams have reached the finish line for the leg!
Valérie and Emmanuelle of Team 304 have just gotten stuck between CP7 and 8. Nothing a little shovelling shouldn’t fix!
28 teams have reached the new bivouac.
The Gazelles of Team 191 are still starry-eyed from their night in the open desert when they reach CP11.
Marie-Pierre and Virginie of Team 108 are leading the pack and are heading for CP11. They are followed by 170 and 206.
After a great performance, Team 500 is approaching the finish line, which is some distance from the bivouac. For autonomy reasons, the electric vehicles do not have to make it all the way to the bivouac for this leg. Teams 600 and 602 are just behind them.
Team 301 is at the back of the pack and is currently at CP6.
Some 20 teams have reached CP8.
All teams are now between CP5 and CP7
For a question of autonomy, the E-Gazelle Buggy Prototype Vinci Immobilier teams will follow the same route as E-Gazelle Auto Vinci Immobilier, i.e. Route G. We apologize for issues in displaying the positions of these teams.
After a first night under the stars, the Gazelles set off for the 2nd day of the marathon leg.
At the head of the pack, some fifteen teams have decided to spend the evening together at CP6.
Most of the Gazelles have decided to pitch their tents at CP5.
Many Gazelles are attempting some nighttime navigation in an effort to reach their 5th checkpoint.
Many teams appear lost at the end of this first marathon day.
The Gazelles are advancing slowly. Most teams on this route will probably sleep at CP4.
The Gazelles who wanted more sand after the red sea of Merzouga have got their wish! Time to get the shovels out…
Surprise of the day: a blank map! The organization deliberately erased a section of today’s map, so the Gazelles won’t be able to rely on the landscape features to navigate. The first Gazelles on Route F have reached CP2, where they are taking a long break to plot their points…
The E Mehari of Team 504 has battery trouble and won’t be able to start this leg with the other teams.
The Gazelles left early to reach today’s start line at 30 km from the bivouac.