Pride in the eyes of the Gazelles
Further on, Gazelles discuss strategy before setting out. Anne of Team 206 (Anne ROUSTIT / Nelly BELOTTI)encourages the others: “When we get to CP6, if we realize it’s too difficult, we’ll skip CP7 and get out of Chegaga. We’re not going to go get hurt; we’re here to enjoy ourselves as well. That’s what happened in Merzouga so we want to try again”. “We can do this, let’s drink some water and let’s go”, confirms Ania of Team 208 (Ania DUFLOS / Blandine COUSIN). “Once a Gazelle, always a Gazelle”, shout Teams 170, 206, 208 and 246, like a war cry.
At the last checkpoint of this final leg, the Gazelles can hardly believe it. Nina and Émilie of Team 177 (Emilie LOGET / Nina LEBELLENGER) assess their first rally: “Being alone in the desert can be frightening because it’s the kind of thing that never happens in real life”, says Nina. “At first, we weren’t able to read the maps and the terrain but as time went on, we got better at navigating. We’re much more comfortable now, we learned from our mistakes”, adds Émilie, who is now planning to do the GAM with her husband. To reach the last bivouac in Foum Zguid, the teams get to enjoy spectacular regs bordered by immense mountains, like something out of a classic western movie.
The finish line is abuzz with emotions and honking horns. Many organizers are waiting for the teams to applaud then after nine days of intense competition. Marina hugs the Gazelles. Nadjette and Sophie of Team 509 (Sophie QUERO / Nadjette GUIDOUM)jump into each other’s arms. “We had such a great time! We made it to the end, and so did our car”, exclaim the Gazelles, their eyes shining with pride. “Congratulations, you did it!” cries Élodie, team relations officer, as she gives each one a “finisher” bracelet. “It was hard, but we were able to do it. We’re very proud of ourselves”, says Melissa of Team 236 (Mathilde NOURRY / Melissa BERT)before starting to cry, followed by her teammate Mathilde. After nine days of competition, the pressure is off.
Solidarity is as present as ever at the finish line. Charlotte and Hélène of Team 238 (Hélène GRAND'EURY / Charlotte ZUCCONI)applaud the teams and congratulate them all, one after the other. Despite their vehicle being immobilized, Séverine and Angelika of Team 133 (Séverine DUHAMEL / Angelika OLIVIER)cross the finish line, towed by a mechanical assistance vehicle. Julie and Karine of Team 217 (Julie LAMBOLEY / Karine LUONG)get out their Basque flag. There is celebration in the air!