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2010 Quebec Auto Show: Canadian women to tackle the Roses des Sables Trophy!

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Quebec – They’ve been at it for two years. But this year is definitely going to be the one, they chime in unison. Isabelle Gagné and Isabelle Desgagné will race in the Roses des Sables Trophy next October, no doubt about it!

The Beladenium duo (left to right): Isabelle Gagné of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier and Isabelle Desgagné of Longueuil. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/

We met with them at the 2010 Quebec Auto Show, where they were enthusiastically presenting their project to the crowd.

The Roses des Sables Trophy is an adventure trek through the heart of the Moroccan desert with nothing but a compass and a road book. The event is strictly women only, which obviously helps pique the interest of the fair sex.

“I’ve been dreaming about it for 10 years!” says Isabelle Desgagné, a 33-year-old wife and mother of a 3-year-old from Longueuil, Quebec. Working in the medical field, she says the trek is the “challenge of a lifetime.” “It’s a project where you have to push yourself to the limit, something you have to do while you still can. Because after that, it’s too late. And there’s obviously also a humanitarian aspect to the event that appeals to me.”

That last point was a natural draw for her team-mate, Isabelle Gagné. The 37-year-old mother of a pre-teen girl has been doing humanitarian work for the past 15 years. Living in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, a northern suburb of the city of Quebec, she is also crazy about 4x4s. For her, the effort asked of Trophy participants is a no-brainer: “It gives meaning to the event. There’s significance in assembling 50 kilos of hygiene or nursing products, clothing or school supplies that will be donated to the little girls of southern Morocco by a foundation called Enfants du désert,” she explains.

Not so easy to get to the starting line

Together, the two Isabelles formed Team Beladenium, a contraction of the words belle and adenium, the latin word for desert rose. A flower as beautiful as it is tough. And a symbol that suits them well.

In 2009, both tried unsuccessfully to take the start on their own sides. “The biggest challenge,” admits the Longueuil native, “is to find the funding”. When we met with them, the two young women had raised one third of their goal of $24,000. “There was the economic crisis in 2009, then the recent earthquake in Haiti. Companies are being cautious, and you have to work hard to get them to pledge big amounts,” she says. “But whatever happens, this year we’re going to take the start,” she declares, going so far as to mention the possibility of a personal loan if they fall short – quite short – of their goal.

Photo: Matthieu Lambert/