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Rebelle Rally 2019: How it went down

The Rebelle Rally covers more than 2,000 kilometers of stunning terrain through the California and Nevada deserts, ending in the Imperial Sand Dunes at the US/Mexico border. All navigation is done using map and compass only, no GPS or technology.  It just happens to be a rally exclusively for women.

Thayer Low

This was the second year that my teammate, Penny Dale, myself, and my beloved 2013 LR4 competed.  Since we were no longer rookies, we went in with the confidence of knowing what we were getting into, but also a little tentative that we would make some mistakes by simply being overconfident, and of course we did!

Team Anam Cara

The beginning of the rally started out fabulously! We were scoring at the top of the charts and amazing ourselves! We got back into the swing of things quickly; packing the tent at 5am and making it to the starting line on time after plotting all the latitude and longitude points for the day, by about 7 am. Last year we were the team that was always running to the truck to barely make it. With some time management we corrected that this year.

The Rebelle Rally consists of time-distance sections but is primarily focused on getting to checkpoints and recording the position with a Rebelle supplied tracking beacon. Emily Miller and the Rebelle team like to keep us competitors on our toes. There will be checkpoints (lat/long points) that are about 500ft from one another but for different groups. This takes accuracy, as well as staying alert to make sure you don’t just assume the first flag you see is yours. We got tricked on one of these points, but stayed alert the rest of the time.

Besides the navigation, driving in the dunes is the second biggest challenge. We arrived in Glamis earlier on day 7 and decided to get some extra checkpoints and gain some confidence driving in the dunes.  We hit everything we went for that afternoon before heading back to basecamp, ready for the last day of competition that was entirely in the dunes!

Day 8 came and we were ready to finish the rally on a high note, hopefully in the top ten! After a few checkpoints we decided to go for a black (a checkpoint that doesn’t have a marker so you just have to be extremely accurate) that was in the bigger dunes.  We went down the face of a dune and got stuck at the bottom.  With our trusty MaxTrax we got ourselves out in not too long and I drove up the next dune as Penny collected shovels and things. However, and it’s hard to know exactly why, whether it was the soft sand, the loaded car -we can speculate for days- I never made it to the crest of the next dune. I felt the car start to roll, tried to turn downhill but didn’t make it. It was slow motion the entire way.  You never realize how much loose stuff there is in your truck until it is all in your lap; popcorn, water bottles, rulers and maps! My trusty LR4 went all the way over landing on its tires. I had my helmet on and the Rover’s side curtain airbags went off so I walked away stunned, but without a scratch.  After winching the truck up the next dune, I drove it out of the sand and back to the pavement.

Penny and I were still able to drive across the finish line that day as the airbags had all gone off, 4 windows had broken, the car was pretty banged up and missing fenders, but the LR4 was in running condition. There is not much better than crossing the finish line to your Rebelle Tribe cheering. Everyone finishes the Rebelle. Even if our “finish” wasn’t how we had planned or as we would have liked to place, it did show me that we have some seriously amazing friends for life.


I plan to compete in 2020 for the fifth Rebelle in a new-to-me 2012 LR4 and couldn’t be more excited! Bring on the dunes!

Thayer Low

MaxTrax Recovery Devices are available from Bearmach > https://bearmach.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=maxtrax

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