Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Home New Release B.C. women competing in 15-day Moroccan rally across the Sahara Desert

B.C. women competing in 15-day Moroccan rally across the Sahara Desert

Ten days driving across the Sahara Desert in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is not exactly the type of adventure a pair of B.C. women ever expected to sign up for.

“I’ve never driven in sand. I’ve driven in a lot of snow being Canadian,” said Jessa Arcuri, the navigator for their team called The Northern Rallycats.

“I think her husband thinks we’re crazy. But I think a lot of people think we’re a little out there for this one,” said Myra Van Otterloo, who will do the driving.

A pair of B.C. women share their excitement for the race they are competing in, in Morocco.


Van Otterloo and Arcuri are part of the annual all-women’s rally, travelling for a week and a half through some very tricky terrain, that presents all kinds of hazards, in southern Morocco.

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The race, which runs from March 3-18, will feature 190 different crews from around the world, with 14 from Canada.

“Maybe you roll over and get disqualified or maybe you get stuck and have to wait for a tow out, or you dig yourself out,” said Van Otterloo.

The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc has been supporting Moroccan villages in some remote areas, building homes and schools with used water bottles, and offering free medical care provided by the team of doctors and nurses set up for the rally.

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The social impact helped convince Jessa and Myra to partake, who are ready for every challenge involved, they said.

“This is going to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done,” said Arcuri.

It’s a true test for every team in the field.

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“You’re using your brain and your body. You’re being physical and you’re making some risky decisions at times,” said Van Otterloo. “It’s a lot of teamwork. Jessa and I have been friends for a long time so it’s perfect for us.

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“I expect a lot of laughs. I expect a little bit of frustration.”

Van Otterloo’s competitive nature has her aiming for a top-five finish, but making it all the way through will still be the ultimate reward for these rally rookies.

“I’m not thinking about if I can’t,” said Arcuri. “I’m thinking about the celebratory finish and that it’s a story I’ll be able to tell my grandkids.”

To make things even more challenging, crews are not allowed to use any electronics for help and must rely on traditional  means of navigation such as maps and the sun.

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