2020 Rebelle Rally: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Since debuting five years ago, the Rebelle Rally has been on the bucket lists of many courageous and adventurous women. This year's event started in Nevada and finished in the insanely beautiful Glamis Sand Dunes, CA. The competitors covered 2,000 kilometers of terrain with only a compass, maps, roadbooks and sheer determination. 

2020 Rebelle Rally

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen


What is the Rebelle Rally?

The Rebelle Rally is the first women's all outdoor, off-road navigation rally raid in the United States. It is unique because only women are allowed to compete, and because it has nothing to do with speed. It's all about blending the love of driving with precise navigation.

Rally Overview

  • Duration - 10 days
  • Distance - 2,000 kilometers
  • Where - Roads, trails, dunes
  • Who - Open to any team of two who want to participate (driver and navigator). NOTE: Registration is on a first come, first serve basis. Once all team places are filled, registration will close even if prior to the closing date of September 10, 2021.
  • How to win - The goal for the teams is to accurately locate the assigned checkpoints, with as few penalties as possible. The team with the highest score wins the rally.
  • Devices allowed - Compasses, maps and roadbooks
  • Devices NOT allowed - Cellphones, GPS devices or other technology
  • Awards - Trophies, compensation given to the charity the winner's choice, and bragging rights OF COURSE!

I know you're probably thinking, "What? No cellphones or GPS?" You are correct. During this competition, there is no place for Google Maps.

Rebelle Rally participants

Source | Abigail Bassett

Not a Traditional Race

Like I said, this rally is different from traditional races because it's not about speed and who finishes first. It's about teamwork, communication, respect, patience, precise driving, navigation skills and locating checkpoints.

Oh, and let's not forget stepping outside of your comfort zone, because trust me when I say that this event is not for the faint of heart.

Competitors must redirect their thinking and get back to basics in more ways than one. For instance, they slept under the stars in tents throughout the entire competition. Bathrooms/bathing facilities are not always available and weather conditions changed dramatically. During the day, Glamis was 114 degrees and in the early morning dropped to as low as 66, which—if not prepared—would be a shock to anyone's system.

2020 Rebelle Rally offroading

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Two women navigating the 2020 Rebelle Rally

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen


I was invited by Mitsubishi Motors and Record The Journey, along with three other magnificent freelancers, to cover this year's event.

Mitsubishi and the Rally put together an entire social media station to help media stay connected. They also ensured we were as comfortable as possible by setting up an amazing glamping area, where we were all assigned our own cute and cozy stout tent.

Additionally, in order for media to understand just how intense and demanding the rally truly is, we were allowed to sit in on competitor briefings and participate in off-road challenges. We also took a brief navigation course, taught by the actual Record The Journey competitors, U.S. Army combat veterans Rachael Ridenour and Kristie Levy.

tents at 2020 Rebelle Rally

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

glamping at 2020 Rebelle Rally

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Rebelle Empowerment

The rally takes all year to build, and the competitors start preparing as early as January. Women from all walks of life compete, from stay-at-home moms to military veterans. Even though they're being tested mentally and physically during the entire 10 days, some use this time as their annual vacation.

“I wanted to create a platform that made women feel like they had a place to shine and gave them encouragement to get out and to do this. I wanted an event that was really built for women's strengths and also to push them on their weaknesses, and I wanted it to be set against the backdrop of the United States," said Emily Miller, founder of the Rebelle Rally.

Emily's statement really touched my heart, because I experienced firsthand how the rally empowers and pushes women to be great. For example, when it was time to drive, I was first in line. When it came time to navigate, I took a few bathroom breaks.

I think I am the only one in my immediate family who doesn't know how to read a map. However, while there, it didn't matter that I didn't know, it only mattered that I wanted to learn. Everyone on my team mentored and supported me, and by the time it was over, I wasn't taking as many bathroom breaks.

Needless to say, having a better understanding of navigation is one of my proudest moments ever.

women navigating in a tent

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Earlier, I spoke about the competitors getting back to the basics. Believe it or not, media had to do the same, and at times it was tough.

There were no Netflix and chill moments. During the day it was very hot outside, and even hotter inside the tents. Additionally, there is nothing soothing about drinking extremely warm water on an extremely hot day.

rally participants on the sand at sunset

Source | Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Yet, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The location, beautiful scenery, stout tent, amazing women, driving courses and navigation training made the entire experience pretty epic. After the first evening, Netflix was a distant thought.

Mitsubishi PHEV

Source |Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Would you be interested in stepping outside your comfort zone and participating in the 2021 Rally? If so, registration is open now. For further details please visit the Rebelle Rally Website.

Last updated November 3, 2020