Chiswick Woman Tackles Female Only Rally

Armed with maps and compass Benedicte heads for Morocco


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Chiswick woman Benedicte Clarkson of Chiswick Mall is once again entering the biggest women-only off-road rally in the world, the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles du Maroc.

After last's experience in this intense competition, she had thought "Never again" but then, together with her co-team member and navigator Jamila Ait Akka, she decided to give it another go, determined to improve their ranking (83 out of 130).

Pictured last year after the rally

So from the 18th of March and for 10 days, she will be driving the desert and dunes of Eastern Morocco, along with 300 women from all over the world, without GPS or Satnav, nor mobile or any technological devices, armed only with 1960s black and white maps and a compass, being given latitudes and longitudes point to put on the maps and being let off looking for red flags in the immensity of the desert.

The aim of the competition is not speed but doing the least amount of kms between checkpoints making this an ecological rally. This also means that there's an incredible amount of solidarity between the gazelles, which is needed as cars do sink in the sand or get stuck on hard vegetation. its caravan is made of doctors, nurses and dentists, who follow the 'gazelles' and stop in the villages around the circuit.

Most nights, the women pitch their tents at set up camps apart for 2 nights where they are left to their own devices. Benedicte says. "It's an extraordinary adventure and it's a shame there aren't more English teams."

Known as the 'Smily Gazelles', team 176, her progress can follow us on the internet even if they might be lost, a tracking system on the car ensures that the organisers and their family and friends always know where they are).

January 14, 2013

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