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February 21, 2023
Midland Radio was the proud sponsor of Katie Abraham and Lisa Addington in the 2022 Rebelle Rally.
The Rebelle Rally is a women-only off-road and navigation rally.
"Essentially it’s only paper map and compass, no electronics whatsoever. It’s 2,700 plus kilometers so this year we went from Lake Tahoe to Glamis, right off the Mexico border so we went through Nevada and California," Abraham said.
It's eight total days of about 10-12 hours of driving per day.
"It’s just you and your teammate. You’re not allowed to have any outside help. Teams can help each other."
Because there are no electronics allowed, paper map navigation is key. Abraham was in charge of the driving while her partner managed navigation.
“Some days you might move across six different maps in three different scales to move between those maps. They don’t make it easy to where the different maps touch each other. Three of the maps might be on the same scale, but there might be a gap between them where they line up so you’re then switching back to a larger scale map.”
The competition is judged through points. Competitors are given checkpoints that they have to gather through coordinates or headings.
“There’s three different types of checkpoints. A green, blue, and a black. The greens are mandatory and worth the most points, blues are optional which were like a stick in the ground, and black there was nothing there. You just have to know exactly where you are and click the tracker.”
Whoever gets the most points at the end wins.
Abraham has been off-roading for years. She decided to embark on the challenge after years of following the event.
“My boyfriend James and I had followed it for while. We were watching some Youtube videos about it and he looked at me, said, ‘You should do this.’ I sat there and thought about it. I couldn’t believe I had never thought about it.”
The momentum of planning picked up after Abraham reached out to partners and contacts she's developed throughout her time as off-roading.
“I realized I have all these great contacts like Midland, Chris with MOORE Expo, and a ton of others I had met over the years wheeling that were really excited about it.”
Abraham said she was thrilled to get her now teammate, Lisa involved.
"We had wheeled together for a couple of years. I told her about it and I don’t think she realized exactly what she was getting herself into when she said yes, but now she’s hooked.”
The women made the decision to compete in early 2021, but decided to wait to sign up for the 2022 rally in order to increase prep time.
“The first bit of preparation, I really spent trying to get as many sponsors as possible to help cover the fee because total, it’s about $15,000 to enter. Working with sponsors was huge. We couldn’t get to the Rebelle without different sponsors that we worked with.”
After sponsorships were secured, the women began honing in on their off-road and navigation skills.
“There was a lot of training- practicing our map skills, practicing our compass skills, making sure that we both knew how to navigate properly. I focused on learning everything that I could about the 4Runner."
Abraham reached out to Midland Radio while they were looking for sponsors.
“Midland first came through with giving us equipment- some radios that included MicroMobiles and handhelds. We were able to use these as raffle items to help us raise money. This helped us a lot at MOORE Expo.”
Midland then donated funds to the team in order to help cover registration costs.
While two-way radios weren't allowed throughout the competition, Midland's MXT115 MicroMobile® Two-Way Radio and handhelds were helpful throughout the team's training.
"We used them a lot when we were out practicing spotting or just doing general training on the trails. We didn’t stop using radios until two months prior.”
Throughout the intense competition, Abraham and Addington faced challenges.
“I think the hardest part was going to the rally and not doing as well as you would like to do. It’s just so much harder than you’d think. You can prepare and plan, but until you actually get there, get to see the maps, the shear amount of exhaustion, and the emotion- it’s the coolest experience, but one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
Abraham enjoyed going off-grid over the course of the competition.
“I think the best part about it was kind of disconnecting from society and disconnecting from like your cellphone. You also get to meet a lot of special people. It was really about enjoying it in the moment and taking the time to enjoy where you were. Even though it was stressful and difficult, it was nice to take that step back and be in the moment.”
While she would have hoped to finish with a higher score, Abraham said she learned a great deal about herself while competing in the rally.
“One of the main things I learned about myself was that I have a great deal of patience, but that I am very hard on myself. I need to give myself some more grace and not push myself too hard, do the best that I can.”
One of the most unique and special aspects of the competition is that it's all women, something not lost on Abraham.
“It was great to come together with so many different women and people of all different skill levels. You had the Nina and Tara Lynns who won for the fourth year out of the seven years it’s been around. Then you have people who have maybe been off-roading twice in their life. They just really wanted to come out and try it, give it their all.”
Abraham enjoyed getting to know each woman and appreciated how vastly different everyone's experiences were.
“It was also special to hear about what they do in their regular life. There was a nuclear physicist, orthopedic surgeon, a stay at home mom, you just get this wide range of people with different experiences. It’s very inspiring to see everyone come together.”
Abraham and Addington are already signed up for 2023. The two plan to switch roles.
“Going back, we’re going to try and crush it.”
She encourages all women interested in off-roading to take the plunge and put their skills to the test at the Rebelle Rally.
“It was the experience of a lifetime. Anybody should go and try to do it.”