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  • Writer's pictureThayer S. Low

2021 Rebelle Rally

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

My third year competing and first year navigating. I'm only more in love with the event now.

The Rebelle Rally is the longest navigational rally in North America, it just happens to be for women.

This is what the founder, Emily Miller is often heard saying. I love that the Rebelle is not a rally made for women. It's not a watered down version of a men's event. It's an endurance rally that has you almost seeing double toward the end of the eight days, but loving every minute of it.

The Rebelle is over 2,300 kilometers driving through amazingly beautiful terrain in Nevada and California, mostly off-road. Every day competitors get about 20 checkpoints (CPs), which are latitude and longitude points. Rebelles get everything down on paper starting at 5 AM each day of the event, before heading off the starting line beginning at 7 AM and then driving for 10 hours or more and "chasing" those CPs. The team that is the most accurate is then ultimately the winner in the rally. This is all done with no technology, only a map and compass. Sounds like a blast right? I'm definitely hooked!

This year I learned a lot as a navigator, in sharp comparison to my two years previous as a driver.

Let me take a step back first. I was very tentative to navigate as I get car sick looking at my phone as a passenger in a car usually! Somehow, with the pressure of navigating and the intense focus it took, I didn't even feel a tinge of it until we were driving in the dunes.

On the first day, when I realized I could actually look down in the car, I was thrilled! I got over my trepidation of navigating and fell in love with it! I had the sole responsibility of where we were headed. This sounds terrifying in a rally when you think about it, but it was also so much fun. I loved the precision with the scales and maps as well as empowerment that jumping out to get a bearing on the compass gave me.

Now, I learned some rookie things- Make sure your map matches the scale you are using to decide the distance that needs to be driven. It's like looking at the map upside down. You do it once, hopefully have a laugh, but either way you've thrown yourself off for a bit and probably lost some points.

However, more interesting to me was that I felt I was better at communicating with my driver, Kathy Locke, because of the time I'd spent in her position. Kathy had also spent a lot of time learning navigation so she understood the time it took to figure out our route on the fly and it made us stronger in the long run.

Communication in general is key in the Rebelle as you are with your teammate for eight days, mostly sharing a small space and often in tense or stressful situations. Getting the rig out of sticky situations, which way to drive on a road that suddenly splits, or simply sharing a tent; these are things that can make or break a team.

We weren't the highest placing team by any means, but this year reminded me why I love being at the Rebelle anyway. The energy, the enthusiasm, the absolutely amazing women that come from diverse backgrounds. And this all takes place in some of the most gorgeous scenery. It's like a summer camp for adults!

Photo credit:

Calleb Wallace

Richard Giodrano

Nicole Dreon


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