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SOLO WALKERS & RUNNERS ROUTE - DAY ONE
It is a long drive to the lowest point in Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Save and Runde Rivers. Walkers and runners will start their 2018 Blue Cross by backtracking on the route to their first overnight camp on the banks of the Save at the Jamanda Community Camp, opposite the phenomenal and wild Gonarezhou National Park. For those who would like some luxury, accommodation is available at Chilo Gorge Lodge.
LAST YEAR WE WELCOMED BACK FULL 500KM EVENT WALKERS AND A RUNNER.
This year, our 25th anniversary, we have had more runners register already for this phenomenal challenge. A marathon a day for 12 days puts the Blue Cross back into that physical event category that will be undertaken by long distance runners in a league of their own.
It is a long drive to the lowest point in Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Save and Runde Rivers where the event starts. Walkers and runners start their 2020 Blue Cross from the Save River riverbed, opposite the phenomenal and wild Gonarezhou National Park and close to the Chilo Gorge Lodge. For those who would like some luxury, accommodation is available at Chilo Gorge Lodge. BOOK EARLY.
Soloists begin their epic endeavour by taking the Chilo access road northwest from the Save riverbed towards the Rupangwana Business Centre on the main tar road. Elephant and Buffalo may be encountered along this section and participants should exercise caution.
24.8kms from the start, participants turn right at the Muhlambi Business Centre and follow the route through an area of black cotton soils, heading east and then north. Cyclones Eline (2000) and Idai (2019) have caused considerable damage to various sections of the road and some 4x4 work is required of the back up vehicles negotiating the numerous gullies and washaways. A possible campsite on the dry Machitove stream can be accessed either by following the cyan (turquoise blue) track from the south or by crossing the gully at Obstacle and then back-tracking from the north along another section of the cyan track.
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY TWO
Day two starts approximately 500m south of Obstacle, a particularly tricky gully where 4x4 and low range are indicated. The road winds through the communal area adjacent to the Mozambique border with the sense of well-being heightened by the cheery waves of the local people going about their daily lives, much of which now seems to revolve around Sesame production rather than cotton. The route passes through black cotton soil with more gullies, stony sections and washaways to be negotiated by the backup vehicles. Around the day's halfway mark, the road comes within 300m of the border with Mozambique and participants may need to show their introduction letter to an army outpost to be found on one of the cross border trails. Along this section, there is a dearth of potential campsites and participants will almost certainly have to request an area to camp from one of the local villagers. Two possible sites are located close to the international border at points 2A and 2B, neither of which is particularly appealing.
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY THREE
From the overnight camp close to the Mozambique border, the route continues to progress along some rough and stony sections which make for slow going on the part of the back-up vehicles.
4.67kms from the start, the route takes a sharp but indistinct right turn, following a stony descent past WP6 and through Zamchiya Village which boasts its own mobile phone mast! Once through the village, the scenery improves but there are still some relatively steep and stony patches to negotiate before reaching the village of Mwangazi just beyond the day’s halfway mark. Thereafter the route moves into more mountainous terrain, passing Musikavanhu Primary School at which the relay teams and cyclists camp overnight. Beyond the school, there is a long and stony climb which taxes both participants and vehicles until Tuzuka School, at 33kms from the start, signals the start of more benign terrain along the ridge with some spectacular views both east and west.
38kms from the start, and at the top of a steep rise, an area of stunning miombo woodland offers some very good campsites on the west of the road; Ni3A being the best site, albeit close to the road while Ni3B has limited space but is more secluded. In spite of the rough road conditions, it is worth using one of these camps rather than Ni3C which is located less than 2 kms from the day’s end.
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY FOUR
DAY FOUR traverses from Fiddlers Green to an uplift just outside Chimanimani; a distance of 76.8 kms. From Fiddlers the route passes through commercial farms to reach the Junction Gate Road. This section from Point A, (see map insert below) is unsupported as vehicle access has been blocked. Back up vehicles follow the Cyan track through Chipinge Town to RV with the walkers at Point B. The Junction Gate Road surface is of poor quality and calls for care and attention while cycling or walking. Just beyond a low level bridge the road turns north and after passing through Macadamia orchards and manicured tea fields it crosses the Eastern Border Road on Clearwater Estate and descends towards the Rusitu Valley to join the broad, gravel, Rusitu Road heading east. 3.3 kms further along, participants take the left fork and begin a series of ascents and descents, crossing the newly repaired Rusitu Bridge and passing through Roscommon Estates before heading east towards the Nyahode Valley. Everywhere participants will be bombarded with images of the destruction wrought by Cyclone Idai. Once almost hidden in the forest, the Nyahode River has carved a 300 metre wide swathe of destruction through the valley and now dominates the countryside. The route swings northwards, following the Nyahode River to the tarred section of the Nyahode Road and arriving at Charter Sawmill on the main road into Chimanimani. There, walkers are uplifted into the village, witnessing to this day the Cyclone IDAI's devastating impact on Ngangu Township en route. Several accommodation options are available in Chimanimani. (See Overnight on this site.) For those with time to spare, a visit to the nearby Bridal Veil Falls is highly recommended.
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY FIVE
DAY FOUR is the longest day for the walking discipline; a distance of 86.7kms. From the Start Point in front of the Chimanimani Hotel the route winds along the scenic drive towards Cashel. From the road, there are many spectacular views of the Chimanimani range and the Masapas Gap. Steal a few moments to capture the grandeur on your mobile phone or camera. After descending towards the Martin's Forest Estate, the road contours for several kilometers before it begins the climb towards and then up the iconic Tank Nek. Considerable roadworks have been carried out on the Cashel Scenic Road, and the condition of the road gets investigated annually by the Committee before the Blue Cross. This iconic section of the route is always included, and it differs year by year, but its always worth the challenge, Participants may complain, but they always remember this remarkable day. Midway through the day a watershed is reached and the road descends gradually towards Cashel Village. Again, take a moment to peep through the roadside vegetation to glimpse the beautiful Tanda Falls a few kms south of Cashel. Temporary repairs have been effected on the low level bridge just south of Cashel Village which was damaged by Cyclone Idai. This repair should still hold up in 2020. An 11 km stretch of tar road then takes you to a turn off at Mutambara Mission from where the road winds through communal farmlands before entering an unpopulated area of picturesque granite kopjes and miombo woodland.
The Whitewaters Bushcamp is on the left of the road a few kms further on.
Elevation Profile Day 4
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY SIX
DAY SIX starts from the Whitewaters Bushcamp and winds through the scenic granite kopjes and woodland before breaking out once more into communal farmland. The route crosses to the west of the main Mutare - Birchenough road before turning north to meet the Bazeley Bridge access road. 8 kms of tar road descend gradually towards the Bazeley Bridge where the route turns generally north north east to a pick up point a short distance from the main road near Zimunya Township; a total distance of 70.8kms. This night is spent in Mutare. Please pre book your accomodation. Campers may take camp at Mutare's Hillside sports Club in Murambi central suburb. Dinner may be PRE ORDERED on the club's lovely deck, drinks are available at the bar. See Overnight on this website for other options
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY SEVEN
Elevation Profile Day 5
On DAY SEVEN, after sleeping over in Mutare, participants 'leapfrog' past the city, with the days walking starting just off the Nyanga road near L'Amour Store. A narrow tar and then a gravel road wind past the remote and undiscovered side of Osborne Dam through some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery that the Blue Cross has to offer. A series of steady climbs from midday onwards will test participants as the event moves towards its climax. After uplifting the walkers at the Bonda road, the back up vehicles take the short cut past Bonda Mission and up the Chamakohwa Road to the overnight stop in Juliasdale or Nyanga. The National Parks cottages are recommended if you can get booking. Mare, Udu or even Rhodes Nyanga Hotel are recommended. Camping is available, but its very chilly!
Elevation Profile Day 6
The "Bonda Bump".
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY EIGHT
Starting at the Placefell Road turn off, Day seven involves 28.5kms of winding gravel roads, initially through commercial forest areas and then through open grasslands and stunted Miombo as you approach Mount Nyangani. Tradition has it that all relay team members walk together for the last 10kms, from the Circular Drive junction to the Nyangani Car Park. The day finishes at the Car Park where participants are welcomed in by the Mutare SPCA team and a festive and colourful welcome in. Your seconders and families join us all to celebrate your achievement! Mutare SPCA supply THE BEST WORS OR BACON AND EGG ROLLS, TEAS AND COFFEE
Elevation Profile Day 7
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY NINE
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY TEN
SOLO WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY ELEVEN
Day eight starts with all participants returning to the Nyangani Car Park by 0800, ready to start climbing the 430 meters from the Mount Nyangani Car Park to the summit where the soloists sign the Blue Book and relay participants the Relay Book. Many bring along a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their achievement.
After descending the mountain there is a celebration lunch at the Rhodes Hall where medals and other awards are presented to successful participants. THIS LUNCH is NOT TO BE MISSED! We try to make it special, fun and its the only time you will meet all the particpants of this year's event.
Elevation Profile Summit Day 8