The 5th leg is the first of two marathon legs. The Gazelles spend two days covering a minimum distance of 365 km to find 17 checkpoints before reaching the new bivouac in Mhamid. It is also the leg for camping in the desert. The competitors try to arrange to meet at certain checkpoints and spend the night together, but it is always hard to plan ahead, not knowing how the leg will go.
Some 15 teams ended up together at CP8 on Monday night. Small groups form around a table or a campfire. As usual, the Gazelles have brought goodies to share on this special night, making a change from the usual diet of military rations. It is also an occasion for a glass of wine or champagne. Organizers mix with groups of Gazelles and for many this is their first time sleeping in the open desert, outside the bivouac. The competitors are well behaved, going to bed early and starting again at dawn. A maximum of 8 checkpoints may be validated on the first day; CP9 doesn’t open until 06:00 on Tuesday morning, while CP8 will stay open until 11:00 on Tuesday, allowing the Gazelles to continue on the 2nd day.
In terms of the rankings, the gap widens after this first marathon: Team 184 (Marie-Helene MENAGER and Natalia DINGE SKLENARIKOVA - ISUZU / TÉLÉ 7 JOURS / ASSOCIATION MÉDICO LIONS CLUB) leads the Isuzu Media Challenge with a total of 79.46 points. Their experience is certainly an asset - they did the Rallye together in 2008, know each other well and are familiar with the terrain.
“Les Miss“, Team 149 - ISUZU / TV MAG / ASSOCIATION ELA, are making good time, often reaching the checkpoints before the teams at the head of the pack. The goal of Valérie and Cindy is to reach every checkpoint, and they are in the process of doing just that! They are currently running 2nd in the Isuzu Media Challenge with a total of 104.27 points.
In 3rd position, the Belgian team 195 (Tatiana SILVA BRAGA TAVARES and Emilie KINO - ISUZU / CINE TELE REVUE / ASSOCIATION THINK PINK) reached every CP for the first time since the start of the competition. Bravo to the two novice Gazelles!
These were the only three teams of the Challenge to reach every checkpoint on this difficult marathon leg.
121 - ISUZU / AUFEMININ.COM / HEART OF GAZELLES - Estelle and Marie Amélie, leaders of the previous leg, continue their roll, reaching every CP until CP9. On the second day, they set out at 6:00 but have a lot of trouble getting across Oued Rehris. After getting stuck several times, the Gazelles decide to avoid problems by following the trail. They make it to CP11 before heading straight for the distant bivouac.
139 - ISUZU / RADIO VITAMINE / ASSOCIATION LE SOURIRE DE LUCIE - Laure and Valérie drive a good leg, finishing in 4th place in the Isuzu Media Challenge despite not reaching all of the checkpoints.
The Moroccan team 148 - ISUZU / LUXE RADIO / ASSOCIATION AMSAT drove a real marathon! In fact, Maha and Nadia slept in the Merzouga dunes two nights ago, just before leaving for 2 more days in the desert. They reached 16 of the 17 checkpoints, quite an exploit! "We were stressed, especially all the first day when we got back from the dunes and left again in a rush", explains Maha. “Luckily we get along very well together, even though there are some hard moments!"
Team 170 - ISUZU / FEMME ACTUELLE / LA FONDATION PIECES JAUNES is one of 6 teams chosen by M6 for a short program court broadcast every evening at 20:40. They were filmed before the competition (with their families and at work) and now the cameras follow them throughout the first day of the marathon leg. Viewers will follow the team from the Nejjakh bivouac (where they get stuck at CP2) until the day ends with an interview with Julie, personal coach and Ingrid, actress.
173 (Anne-Sarah GRUNENWALD and Maryline BARBE - ISUZU / COTE SANTE / ASSOCIATION CEW) - Our team of nurses, always dressed in pink, go along their merry way, never without a smile. They spend some time comforting Gazelles who are cracking under the strain of the challenging competition. This team may be in the middle of the pack in the Isuzu Media Challenge, but they win first prize for kindness!
176 - ISUZU / GENERATION 4X4 / ASSOCIATION KASSOUMAI - Carole and Sandrine are ill and got back at midnight after the marathon leg, tired and disappointed not to have reached more CPs... but as Jean-Pierre Berthet said at the briefing, it is quite an exploit for a new team to reach every checkpoint on a long leg like this one!
177 (Aurore TEBOUL and Charlotte LATOUR - ISUZU / AUTOROUTE FM / ASSOCIATION AUDITIONSOLIDARITE.ORG) - Our two journalists from Autoroute FM are having some problems finding their way in the desert ... They are 9th in place before the last leg.
179 - ISUZU / TV5 MONDE / ASSOCIATION PAROLES DE FEMMES - Fiona and Valérie went straight from CP1 to CP8 on the first day of the marathon, and drove straight to the bivouac on the 2nd day. To each his own, every team at its own pace...
182 - ISUZU / RADIO FRANCE BLEU / ASSOCIATION REVE - Marie and Jessica are in 10th place after the first marathon.