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by Lorisa Hasenbush March 01, 2022
FRÉ graphic designer, Alona Ben Natan, will participate in the Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles in Morocco this March. She took some time to tell us about her love for rallying and this unique event.
About me: By day I am FRÉ’s UX/UI Graphic Designer, but I dedicate a lot of my free time to my SUPER hobby, rallies. I train at the gym at least three times a week and do a long drive in the desert every weekend. In addition, I do an enduro ride, which is on a motorcycle, in the morning in the middle of the week. This sport is a big part of my life; but it’s good, because it makes me manage my time during the day, so that I have enough time for everything.
I am a single mother and have a six-year-old son. It is hard on both of us when I am out of the country, participating in a rally. I make sure to call my son every day that I am away. He always is proud of me when I return with a medal for all my efforts. As he grows, he will understand more about how important it is that his mother pursues her dreams. My dedication is an example for him, showing him the need to be strong and driven in order to reach one’s goals.
The beginning of my rally adventures
I started participating in rallies in cars 10 years ago. I returned to Israel from a long trip in Finland, and some friends invited me to join them in a rally, Israeli Baja 2012. I had such a great time, I have been rallying ever since.
Four years ago, I learned to ride an off-road motorcycle, and two years ago, I began to participate in rallies on motorcycles, too. My first motorcycle rally was in 2020.
Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles in Morocco
The Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles in Morocco is very unique. It is an all-women off-road rally raid in the Moroccan desert. It is a nine-day rally and we can only use a compass and maps. We must hand in our phones at the beginning of the event. The rally is not based on speed, but on the least number of kilometers driven. Every day we are given new geographical coordinates for the day’s checkpoints; we analyze the map and the risks and plan our own routes. The winning team is the one that drives the least number of kilometers while finding the greatest number of checkpoints.
The rally is incredibly inclusive. Women of all ages, social backgrounds, nationalities and levels of off-road experience can participate. We are allowed to compete in a variety of vehicles, including 4x4s, Crossovers, Quad bikes, SSVs and trucks. Toyota is one of my team’s sponsors, so we will be competing in a Toyota Hilux.
Working together for a sustainable Morocco
This rally is under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, who promotes the idea of working together for a sustainable Morocco. It has the international environmental management certification, ISO14001. In addition, teams are not allowed to leave waste throughout the desert. All non-recyclable waste must be incinerated, while everything else must be recycled. Cœur de Gazelles, a nonprofit organization involved in the race, will recycle all empty water bottles consumed during the event.
Additionally, since the concept of the Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles is not based on speed, the carbon dioxide emissions are lower than those of a traditional rally.
Social commitment of the rally
Cœur de Gazelles follows the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles with a traveling medical caravan. While this medical team is available to help the rally participants if the need arises, it also provides free medical consultations to people living in villages along the rally route, who have little access to medical care.
Daughters of Abraham
We are a team of two women and our team name is Les Filles de Abraham (daughters of Abraham). My partner’s name is Hyba Benryane; she is Moroccan-born and now lives in Switzerland. Helene Clemenson, responsable développement Maroc, came up with the idea to have a Moroccan-Israeli team to represent the friendly relationship between the two countries. The Chamber of Commerce from both countries supported the idea, wanting to publicize this good relationship in hopes to strengthen commerce between Morocco and Israel.
It is an honor to represent Israel in this rally as well as be part of a team that represents peace and acceptance. I know there will be outsiders that will have negative comments about an Israeli woman and a Moroccan woman working together, but I hope our strong teamwork will outshine any small minded remarks.
When women and girls see me participate in this rally or any other rally, I want to give them hope for their own futures. I want them to see that women can do and achieve anything they want. It takes dedication, but we all can fulfill our dreams.
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