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SOLO WALKERS & RUNNERS ROUTE

IN 2019 WE WELCOMED BACK FULL 500KM EVENT WALKERS AND A RUNNER.     

This year, our 26th consecutive staging of the Blue Cross, we have had more soloists 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 walkers and runners in a league of their own.

Participants choosing the self-regulated competitive option for either the Light or Heavy Infantry disciplines must ensure that they have suitable software (Strava or equivalent) on their navigation devices which will allow for the capture of their daily and aggregate times.

The assumption this year is that soloists will all start from the traditional start point opposite Mahenye Camp rather than the Mwachumeni Start Point 10k further south.

The 2021 Solo Runners/Walkers (SRW21) daily splits, approximated to a Standard Marathon per day, are predicated on the location of the recommended campsites:

  • D1(Day 1)  Soloists Walk/Run 43.3k from the Start Point (See .gpx and .kml route files - 'SRW21 Start')(180m ASL) via Mulambi BC to a Camp Ni S1 (See route map) just beyond 'Obstacle'; now impassable to vehicles. Fair to rough all-weather gravel road for first 24.7k to Muhlambi BC. Thereafter rough gravel and black cotton soil with numerous washaways requiring careful negotiation and some low range work. At 42k, Back Up vehicles follow the 5.4k cyan track around the 'Obstacle' to RV with Runners/Walkers at Camp Ni S1 (358m ASL) in open field just east of road.

  • D2 From Camp Ni S1 (358m ASL) Soloists run/walk 42.4k to Camp  Ni S2 (636m ASL). Very rough and stony gravel and dirt road with several washaways. At 33.4k from the day's start, Back Up vehicles follow the 4.7k cyan track around 'Xtreme Hazard' . Follow magenta track 'Ni 2 Access' through rough and thorny alleyway to Camp Ni S2 in secluded clearing surrounded by thorny scrub. Long handled loppers and leather gloves are useful accessories if additional clearing is needed.

  • D3 - Shortest day!  From Camp Ni S2 (636m ASL), soloists run/walk 36.2k to Camp Ni S3A or S3B (1050m ASL). Very rough and stony road throughout with steep gradients particularly beyond Mwangazi Village around the half way mark. Stay alert for sharp right turn to Zamchiya BC at 2.7k from start.  Recommended overnight camps are situated in a stunning brachystegia grove at the crest of a very rough ascent. Camp Ni S3A is more spacious of two but, if inadequate, follow cyan snail trail 'Ni 3B Access' to smaller camp area but with more level sites.

  • D4 - Longest day!  From Camps Ni S3 (1050m ASL) soloists run/walk 45.4k to Fiddlers-on-the-Green (FOTG) (970m ASL). Rough and stony road conditions persist but some compensation from sensational views both east and west as well as the iconic 'Sally's' through mature miombo woodland to join traditional route at the top of the legendary 'Barbara's'. Please close gates in farming areas. Sign in to Rift Valley Enterprises (Makandi Estate) and strictly observe Covid protocols. Carefully follow the magenta track through the Makandi orchards to avoid being blocked by farm gates. Overnight camping at Fiddlers with meals available courtesy of Chipinge ladies. See 'Overnight Stops' and book/pay individually.

  • D5 From FOTG (970m ASL), soloists run/walk 41.7k to Camp Ni S5 at derelict Arda Rusitu Coffee workshops (1079m ASL). Soloists unsupported for first 7.3k to Junction Gate Road while Back Up vehicles follow the 10.6k cyan track 'Chipinge Bk Up Route 10.6k' through Chipinge Village. First 33k characterized by a mix of rough, broken tar and stony dirt. Thereafter Rusitu road is under rehabilitation and Roscommon road is in reasonable condition. Recommended camp site at Arda Coffee workshops represents one of very few level areas - permission received from Mr Dirikwe of Arda Rusitu (+263773255140), but please confirm with him beforehand your intention to utilize the camp. Dry camp with adequate Blair toilet which may need a quick clean with a grass broom and a bucket of water.

  • D6  From Camp Ni S5 (1079m ASL) soloists run/walk 41.8k to an Uplift Point (1367m ASL) in Ngangu Township, just short of Chimanimani Village. The Roscommon Road is rough, steep and stony in places but passable throughout. The tar road is reached 26.5k from the start and that persists to the day's end. Overnight stays are by own arrangements (see 'Overnight Stops' page).

  • D7  From Chimanimani Village (1514m ASL), soloists run/walk 42.9k to Camp Ni S7 (1792m ASL) just off the Cashel Scenic Road. The road is passable but there are some rough, stony and dusty sections including the steep climb up towards the iconic Tank Nek. Exercise caution on the bends as vehicular traffic is common in the section between Chimanimani and Chikukwa. Camp Ni S7 is situated on a narrow ridge extending west from the main road. This is a dry camp so stock up with water in Chimanimani.

  • D8   From Camp Ni S7 (1792m ASL), soloists run/walk 43.8k to the Whitewaters BushCamp (WWBC) (956m ASL). The road is passable throughout but there are some rough, stony areas resulting from landslides on the Cashel road, and there are a number of very powdery sections through the Martin Forest area on the approach to Cashel Village. Beyond Cashel, 11 kms of tar take participants to the turn off just west of Mutambara Mission. A passable dirt road leads into the minimally populated Whitewaters area and a secluded camping area amongst the granite outcrops and miombo woodland. Follow the cyan track 'Ni 8 Access WWBC' to the camp site. The area is dry, so fill up at WP15 or 16, and it is advisable to have a small bag of sugar or salt as a 'mutete' in the event of a visit from the nearby kraalhead (sabuku). 

  • D9   From WWBC (956m ASL), soloists run/walk 41.8k to Camp NiS9A or 9B (927m ASL) adjacent to WP20. The road is a mix of good to fair sandy dirt and some tar which crosses to the west of the Mutare - Birchenough road before swinging north and finishing on the broad tar of the Bazeley Bridge road. Follow the red snail trail to a secluded Camp Ni S9A, or follow the green snail trail to a larger area at S9B; the latter being an Apostolic Sect gathering area which may be off-limits during their times of worship.

  • D10A & B From Camp Ni S9 (927m ASL), soloists run/walk  30.5k to an uplift point (1110m ASL) on the main Mutare - Birchenough Road opposite Zimunya Township. The road is a mix of tar, reasonable sandy dirt, and one steep and stony section (Laurie's Ladder) approximately 9k from the day's end. From the Uplift point, a 22.8k vehicle transfer takes soloists into Mutare to the start of D10B which follows the urban ring road for 8.0k, to Hillside Golf Club (HGC) bringing the total day's distance to 38.5k. That leg may be walked/run at any point to make up the required distance. Overnight stops are by own arrangement but HGC offers camping, hot showers and a meal option (subject to any prevailing Covid restrictions)

  • D11  From HGC, take 24.7k vehicle transfer to D11 start point on Koodoosberg Road at 'SRW21 Start D11 417.8k'. Soloists walk/run 39.6k to Camp Ni S11 (1182m ASL), just beyond the Nyadiri R bridge. The road is all-weather gravel but rough and stony in places with some spectacular views of Osbourne Dam and the surrounding granite dombos. This is a signature day for the Blue Cross. The recommended camp is approximately 80m ENE of the day's end point. 

  • D12A & B  From Camp Ni S11 (1182m ASL), soloists run/walk 19.1k to an uplift point on the Bonda tar road 'SRW21 D12A end 476.5k' (1672m ASL). The road is a mix of reasonable sandy dirt and some steep and stony patches, including the 'Bonda Bump'. At the Bonda road soloists are uplifted by vehicle for a 30.2k transfer to the D12B start point 7.8k along the Placefell Road. From there soloists walk/run 20.6k to the Finish Line at the Nyangani Car Park (2144m ASL), bringing the day's distance to 39.7k and the total distance to 497.1k. There a heroes welcome awaits with a richly-deserved cup of coffee and a freshly cooked egg and bacon roll served up by the Blue Cross team. Please bring along your camp chairs and cooler boxes and stay on to soak up the festive atmosphere. Overnight stays are by own arrangements.

  • D13 Summit Day (2.9k to 2565m ASL) and the Spirit of the Blue Cross Celebratory Lunch are subject to possible 3rd wave Covid-19 restrictions and details will follow by circular brief closer to the time.

SOLO WALKERS & RUNNERS ROUTE  - ELEVATION PROFILE