24 January 2020

4L Trophy: On the way to the Moroccan desert with Elena!

A Business Manager for agap2 Strasbourg in France , Elena has challenged herself to take on the 4L Trophy 2020 rally, which will start on the 20th of February. This humanitarian rally covers 6,000 km across France, Spain and the Moroccan Sahara, and is supported by agap2. She has joined forces with her team-mate Juliette to create an all-female partnership ready to take on this huge challenge.

Elena gave us a few initial insights regarding this amazing experience:

can you explain what the “4L Trophy” is?

The 4L Trophy is the biggest humanitarian rally in Europe, open exclusively to young people aged between 18 and 28. It will take place between the 20th of February and the 1st of March 2020, roughly 10 days in total, covering 6,000 km across large parts of France, Spain and the Moroccan Sahara. Everyone travels in legendary classic Renault 4L cars! The hardest part is being able to negotiate the dunes and the Atlas mountains whilst covering the shortest distance possible. The 4L Trophy is an orienteering challenge rather than a race.  

The main goal of the trip is to get to Marrakesh and hand over school supplies and sports equipment to some of Morocco’s most disadvantaged children. Once the teams arrive, these supplies will be distributed by the ‘Enfants du Désert’ charity.

what made you want to take part of this adventure?

I’ve dreamt of doing the 4L Trophy for years. Watching other teams from my college taking part made me curious but I never dared to have a go until last spring, when my friend Juliette and I finally decided to take the plunge.

I see it as a personal challenge, with the spirit of adventure and the desire to work together and help others being my key motivation. I wanted to test my limits and enjoy a unique experience with the rally teams as well as the local people, building memories that will last a lifetime.

Competing in the 4L Trophy is also about being part of a humanitarian project. I’m enthusiastic about being able to help children and feel useful. I believe that going to school should not be optional but rather a fundamental and universal right. No-one puts it better than the Enfants du Désert charity: “learning to read, write and count is a right that should be accessible to everyone!”

how do you prepare for this kind of rally?

I currently compete in two types of sport: triathlon and horse-riding. I already train a lot, so I think I’ll be fine to take on this rally.

I am used to the stress involved before the start. This type of pressure is manageable and it also helps boost your adrenaline levels! I think it will be similar for the rally. The desire to cross the finish line will help me get over the butterflies in my tummy and the initial stress.

In terms of technical preparation, my team-mate and I were complete beginners when it came to maintaining our Renault 4L – nicknamed Ginette – which hasn’t been driven for over a year. We had to learn all about mechanics as well as the modifications needed for the rally and bodywork, which we didn’t find particularly difficult. We might be an all-girl team but we’re pretty resourceful in our everyday lives, something that we’re keen to demonstrate during this rally!

what are the different preparation stages?

Signing up for the 4L Trophy is like managing a project! You start by setting out a specific goal and look at the various ways to achieve it. It’s like an endurance test in itself, requiring absolute determination even before you set off!

The first choice you need to make is who will be your team-mate. You need someone reliable who will work closely with you during the planning stage as well as in the centre of the action. You also need to choose a name for your team. This is when all the paperwork starts, which may include creating a charitable organisation to ensure the project is officially recognised, and opening a bank account before approaching potential sponsors. You also need to set out the budget in a sponsoring kit that also includes an introduction to the 4L Trophy concept, the charity, media coverage of the event, and how to become a sponsor and the reasons for doing so.

The process of seeking out sponsors involves implementing a business strategy: from making an initial appointment to negotiation. Any help is welcome, which is why it’s important to get your friends and family involved in spreading the word: nothing is more important than word of mouth!

How are you financing your project?

Assistance can be financial or practical: help with renovating the car, for example, or providing sports equipment and schools supplies for the children. I’m financing a large part of my project by selling advertisement banners on Ginette to companies, which then become our sponsors. We have also set up a fundraising page on Leetchi, available via our Facebook page, where people can help us financially by donating as much as they like. Finally, we have bought 4L Trophy pens that we are selling to our friends and family as well as in our local villages.

Attempting to reach our target budget of over €10,000 is clearly not easy, which is why we are both contributing personally by drawing on our savings.

what are you hoping to get out of this kind of experience ?

First and foremost, I consider it a personal challenge. There are definitely more men than women taking part in the 4L Trophy so people haven’t always taken me seriously in my search for sponsors. I’d like to prove that a girl can manage in the desert in a Renault 4L, and cope with any mechanical issues. I don’t think any of my friends and family were really surprised when I told them I wanted to take part in this rally; it’s not something that scares me. The entire adventure, the journey, camping out and getting together with students from all sorts of backgrounds are what really makes this rally, I’m certain of that. It’s going to be a unique experience where the conditions don’t matter, however tough. It’s also an opportunity for me to learn how to manage a complex project requiring a lot of resources and personal commitment.

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing some amazing scenery, learning how to deal with mechanical issues and, most importantly, finding myself and interacting with others. I expect there will be new things to discover every day, and I hope to enjoy the feeling of freedom and happiness with a new outlook on life.

why did you ask agap2 to help you with this project?

I found articles and testimonials on sports projects, challenges and events in the company’s internal newsletter, agaptualité. agap2 regularly supports employees in projects they feel strongly about. I’ve been a Business Manager for the Strasbourg branch of agap2 for three years now so I know it is people-centric, works closely with students and supports charities. That’s why it seemed like the best company to approach to put its trust in me by sponsoring my adventure.


> If you would like to help Elena and Juliette to finance their project, visit their Facebook page at M4d moi’z’aiLes: €1 means 1 kilometre covered!