Frequently asked questions

Registration & entrance fees

How do I make payments to the Blue Cross?


We hope that all our valuable supporters, be you participants or sponsors will appreciate that the only sensible way for us to manage our fundraising which takes place over an extended period is to use the US$ or Rand. That option would apply across the board including Registration fees, Blue Cross shirts, Sponsorship, The Spirit Lunch and all other incidental participant costs in the Event. A collection point for cash payments in those currencies has been set up in the offices of Microman at 15 Arden Road, Newlands, Harare. (see the last question in this section for more details) For easy payment by sponsors from outside Zimbabwe we recommend the use of https://backabuddy.co.za/champion/spca-bluecross-zim/event We also accept payments via World Remit or Western Union. Please ask your sponsors to specify CASH PICK UP. Once payment has been made, please send Proof of Payment to bjcleggzim@yahoo.com notifying us of the purpose of the payment, be it Registration fees, Sponsorship etc.




What is the entry fee used for?


The entry fee of US$50 covers some of the administration and logistical costs of the event including recce expenses, venue hire, National Park entry fees, campsite facilities, medals, goody bags, printing etc. See the FAQs for details of how to pay.




Is the cost of the lunch covered by the entry fee?


No. Once the lunch cost is known, participants will be asked if they and their back up crew/family wish to join us for the lunch. The per person lunch cost is additional to the entry fee. The LAST DATE TO CONFIRM LUNCH NUMBERS IS 31 JULY. Limited space is available for the seated lunch. SADLY NO EXTRA PERSONS CAN BE ADDED IN DURING THE LAST WEEK OF THE EVENT AS THE CATERING IS PRE-PLANNED and cannot be altered at the last minute.




What is the Registration fee?


US$50.00 in cash (See Payment options above.)




Is the Registration fee payable in local currency at the exchange rate of the day?


Unfortunately, as with all other payments, the volatility of the exchange rate and the mismatch between real and interbank rates will seriously erode values by the time the event takes place and thereafter as funds are disbursed/expended. Using US$ cash or ZAR is the only reasonably sure way of locking in value.




Is there an easy way to pay the Registration fee?


Yes, a collection point has been set up in the Harare offices of Microman which are situated at 15 Arden Road, Newlands, GPS Coordinates: S17deg 48'16.33"; E031deg 04'34.18". Receipts will be issued for all monies received. The offices may be reached via a panhandle, the turnoff to which is at a small low level bridge a few metres NW of the junction of Arden and Kenilworth Rds.





Disciplines

What are the disciplines?


Participants may opt for any of the following disciplines: - Walk/run solo* - this discipline can be done in Light or Heavy Infantry format - Walk/run relay - MTB cycle* - MTB cycle relay - Motor bike endurance ride solo* - Horse ride solo* * Disciplines with an asterisk can be done with or without a competitive option




What is meant by the Relay Discipline?


Participants group together to form a team of 6 in 2 cars, and share the pre-planned day's distance between the members of the team. Alternatively, smaller teams with one vehicle can use the Stepping Up technique although time to complete the day's walk is a constraint. See the diagrams below which illustrate two of the techniques We are here to help you with this, and the website will have daily routes and individual splits posted for walkers. At this stage, if you plan to walk, but feel uncertain as to the routes and camp sites, contact us. Your team can walk the same distance and the same route as the SPCA's own team, and sleep in the same fly camps as ours. You may not experience the peace and solitude that some participants value in the Blue Cross, but if you feel worried, you can be with us at night, and set off daily from the same point as we do. If you want the experience to have more quiet and alone time, you are free to follow your own timetable. All tracks will be available to you on your on-the-go GPS.




What is the sensible number for a walking relay team?


The optimum number is 6 walkers. These 6 are split into 2 sub-teams in 2 vehicles; 3 walkers in each. Each team of 3 walks concurrently with the other, and in so doing, the team of 6 can cover +/- 80kms per day. The sub teams leap frog each other, so no section is walked twice. 4x4's are recommended but a robust high clearance 2WD will also suffice.




Are relay runners/walkers allowed to run/walk more than the recommended distance?


Most definitely! The easiest way to stretch yourself as a relay participant is to run or walk the first and third split of each of the sub-team's daily legs. That would effectively double the total distance run/walked.




Is there a competitive option available in any of the disciplines?


The primary objective of the Blue Cross is to raise funds for animal welfare. If, in so doing, a solo participant wishes to test his or her capabilities, it is acceptable for the daily timings to be recorded using the Strava (or equivalent) app and then aggregated to arrive at a total time for the event. There are no timekeepers or race marshalls, and solo participants choosing the competitive option must understand that their timekeeping must be self-administered. Please see the question re Disciplines above.




What are the rules for the Light Infantry Discipline?


Participants walk the full distance on their own and benefit from the services of their back up crew to set up overnight camps and provide food and water.




What are the rules for the Heavy Infantry Discipline?


For the duration of the Event, participants must carry ALL their basic needs except water which may be supplied by the back up crew. Without purchasing provisions along the way, Heavy Infantry participants must provide all their requirements, pitch and strike their own tents and cook their own meals.





Awards & Luncheon

Are there winners?


Yes. The SPCA's of Zimbabwe are the winners, thanks to the kind efforts of the participants in raising sponsorship. Finishers of the full 500kms are awarded medals if the sponsorship raised is: USD 200 to USD 399 : BRONZE USD 400 TO USD 599 : SILVER USD 600 AND OVER : GOLD




Are there any special awards for participants?


YES. These are: - THE SPIRIT OF THE BLUE CROSS AWARD for the participant exhibiting the greatest commitment to the ideals of the SPCA Blue Cross Event. - From 2020, Floating Trophies will be awarded for the fastest aggregate times in the competitive categories of: - Male MTB Rider - Female MTB Rider - Heavy Infantryman - Light Infantryman - THE DATVEST FLOATING TROPHY for the most sponsorship overall. - THE CECIL THE LION FLOATING TROPHY for the most sponsorship raised by a Relay Team member.




When are the awards presented?


After all participants have summitted Mt Nyangani, the Awards Lunch, known as the Spirit of the Blue Cross Lunch, is held at a suitable venue in the Nyanga area. This is the culmination of the event and the awards are presented during a fun-filled luncheon replete with good food, much banter and new-found friendships. It is an occasion not to be missed. BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL AND NO EXTRAS CAN BE TAKEN AT THE LAST MINUTE, DUE TO CATERING CONSTRAINTS.




Where and when is the Awards ceremony and luncheon held?


Date: SUMMIT DAY, CHECK CALENDAR ON HOME PAGE Venue: RHODES HALL Time: TBA Cost: TBA NB ALL ATTENDING MUST REGISTER FOR THE LUNCH BY 31st JULY Click HERE to book your EXTRAS for the SPIRIT OF THE BLUE CROSS Awards Ceremony and Lunch.




Are there any special requirements for those attending the Spirit of the Blue Cross Lunch?


Whilst there will be a beer and wine bar in operation, it is strongly recommended that participants bring along their own cooler boxes to guarantee that their needs are fully catered for.





Requirements

What are the entry requirements?


THIS IS S FUNDRAISER: Participants must complete the online entry form, pay the entry fee and raise a minimum sponsorship of: USD$200 for Solo Participants USD$100 for Relay Participants HOWEVER...... THIS IS OUR SINGLE BIGGEST COUNTRYWIDE FUNDRAISER. Please aim for the highest amounts you can raise. A lot of work goes into the event, and the entry fee is kept low, in order that people can raise sponsorship funds for us. An award is given to the participant with the highest amount raised. Your fundraising is the single biggest factor in taking part in the BLUE CROSS.




Is it necessary to have a 4x4 vehicle?


It is highly desirable particularly over the first 100kms of the route, but at the very least, a robust, high clearance 2WD is essential. The annual rains play a crirtical role in the route and road quality, and this we cannot predict.




What clothing is required?


That is largely a personal choice and depends on the discipline. Cyclists tend to use a double pair of cycling pants, long or short sleeved cycling shirts, and cycling headgear (which is mandatory). Walkers will need stout, worn-in, walking shoes/boots, a wide-brimmed hat and a longsleeved shirt. Lightweight and soft, long pants are best. Ankle high socks are better than low ones, which tend to creep under the heel after long spells of walking. Sunscreen is important. Some walkers find it reassuring to walk with a phone, water and a few snacks, and a belt bag or very small, lightweight rucsac can be useful. Test your choice before the walk. It is wise to take a spare pair of shoes in case of blisters developing or shoes falling apart.




How many on-the-go GPS units do I need?


Solo Cyclists and Endurance Bike Riders should each have one mounted on their handlebars in case they find themselves on their own. Each group of back-up vehicles also requires at least one GPS. Walking relay teams of two vehicles require a minimum of 2 units but more units for individual walkers is desirable. Remember to pack one set of spare GPS batteries for each 1.5 days on the trail.




What is an on-the-go GPS?


This is normally a small hand-held GPS with a mini USB connection port which can interface with a PC and accept route data sometimes referred to as a snail trail.




Can I use my vehicle mounted GPS (such as a Garmin NUVI)?


Many such GPS units are unable to accept route data and are, therefore, unsuitable for navigation on backroads. Vehicle mounted GPS units can, however, be used in limited fashion to record way points such as change-over points along the route.




Are participants covered in terms of Insurance?


NO. It is up to indivduals to insure themselves if they feel they would like to be covered. Participants must be self-sufficient in every respect, including insurance and medical cover. The Blue Cross Committee cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage, injury or other misadventure during the event.




What happens if I cannot source enough GPS units?


Most Smart phones are GPS enabled and are capable of accepting and displaying route data. The Gaia app (free download) is recommended as a basic navaid, although the Strava app is indicated for competitive participants. Routes and waypoints can be downloaded onto mobile phones and IPads/Tablets which make excellent vehicle mounted GPS units when plugged into power via cigarette lighter adaptors. Google offers tutorials on how to download route data onto IOS and Android devices.





Sponsorship & pledges

What is the cut-off date for sponsorship?


For the purposes of quantifying and confirming your sponsorships for the Medal Awards at the Spirit of the Blue Cross Luncheon, we are obliged to have a cut-off date. This does not mean that late arriving sponsorships are not accepted. BUT medals will be awarded based on the quantum of sponsorship being confirmed by us 7 days prior to Summit Day. Pledges will not be recognised.




Is there a sponsorship form?


Yes. On the website. Please send an electronic copy of your completed sponsorship form to bjcleggzim@yahoo.com at least 7 days prior to Summit Day. As an added insurance, please print a copy of the completed form and submit it, along with funds raised, before you start the event. Late additions will be accepted, but unpaid pledges will not be recognized as part of your Medal Achievements at the Celebration Luncheon.




How do I get Sponsors?


It's easier than you may think. People are very kind, but only if they understand the import of this amazing Ultra Distance Event. Encourage them to look at the website, to see the commitment you are making. Use social media, eg Facebook and Instagram. Each year we send out an e-poster to registered participants which they can print and display at work and at gym/cycling/running/walking/hiking clubs.




Cash Sponsorships, and how do I protect my efforts?


In the light of the economy, please convert any cash donations immediately into real currency, to protect your final balance. The medal awards are based on converted values. Protect the SPCA you are sponsoring by preventing inflation detracting from your hard work.





Overnight facilities

Are there places to stay along the way?


By the nature of the Blue Cross adventure, much of the route is 'back country, off the grid' and camping is the best option. However, there are certain options at certain points on the route. (see our page Overnight Stops.) The first night can be spent in the proximity of the start point at Mahenye near the Save-Runde confluence, where the Jamanda Community offers a well-situated, informal camp site. There is also the renowned Chilo Safari Lodge right there, if you fancy some luxury before you set off. Chilo also has a tented, self-catering camp. If you wish to do something very special, drive through the Gonarezhou National Park, camping en route for a few days before you start the walk. You will definitely need a 4x4 for this, especially for the river crossing at Mahenye. It will be time consuming. In Chipinge, you can pre-book to stay at the Polo Club, Fiddlers on the Green where you can camp, have a hot shower and enjoy a wholesome supper and breakfast at a reasonable cost. Chimanimani offers many options in cottages, lodges and campsites. Please see our Overnight Stops page where contact details are also provided. In Mutare, Hillside Golf Club in the city has a campsite, with meals available to be pre-ordered. Nyanga and Juilasdale offer a wide choice of private and National Parks cottages as well as the Rhodes Nyanga Hotel . Please book directly.




Are there designated campsites along the route?


Apart from the Jamanda Community Camp near the Mahenye start point, the organisers establish two official Blue Cross camps at the 107km and 331km marks respectively. These official campsites are only available for running/walking relay and cycling solo participants following the suggested schedule. Participants following their own schedules are obliged to find their own overnight camp sites which coincide with the end of the day's walking/riding. GPS coordinates can be supplied for some useful campsites, but such sites are generally in Communal Areas, and participants are urged to respect the authority of the local traditional leaders. Camping is also available in Mutare at the Hillside Sports Club, with hot showers, good birdwatching and the option of pre-ordering a tasty and reasonably priced meal from the Golf Club Kitchen. This is especially laid on for Blue Cross participants.




Do support crews have to pay for the use of the designated campsites?


No. The cost of all the bushcamps including Jamanda will be free to participants and bona fide back up crew members alike. Please limit your back up crew numbers to ensure that the camp facilities are not overloaded. Anyone wishing to use the Jamanda Community Camp outside of the two officially scheduled nights must notify the Event Organisers of the required date. The Blue Cross will cover the cost of one night but those wishing to extend their stays will be obliged to pay the Jamanda Concessionaries US$10pppn.





Routes

Is the route marked?


NO. Participants and their back-up teams navigate by following the route downloaded from the website onto their on-the-go GPS units/mobile phones/devices.




How do I obtain GPS tracks of the route?


Tracks are available to be downloaded from the website (see Routes and Download Route) but care should be taken to check that the routes remain valid, as a ground-proving reconnaissance is carried out at the end of the rainy season and routes may have to be altered slightly.





Rules

Is it possible to cover only part of the distance?


No. The essence of the Blue Cross calls for every metre of the route to be covered by a solo or relay participant. The offering of a Mini Blue Cross has been discontinued.




Is the summit climb for participants only?


No. Anyone is welcome to join in with the fun of the climb!




Is there a minimum or maximum distance to be covered each day?


NO. Participants can do as little or as much as they like each day, providing they are there to climb Mt Nyangani on the Tuesday morning of the Heroes weekend. (See Event Calendar)




Can I take rest days?


YES, as many as you wish. The only stipulation is that you reach the base of Mt Nyangani on the day immediately prior to Summit Day (See the Home page for the Event calendar)




Is there a prescribed number of participants in a Relay team?


There is no prescribed number for the Relay, but the format that works best is 6 people in the team, 2 cars and 3 participants per car. The relay is designed for self seconding, and no back up crews are needed.




Is there a set procedure to which Relay Teams must adhere?


NO. The team can employ a variety of techniques. STEPPING UP: Normal when a sub-team comprises 2 walkers/cyclists and one vehicle. Participant A starts his split. Participant B drives ahead and waits at the end of that split. Participant A arrives, B heads out and walks his split. A drives the split and waits at the end, to takeover again. A more efficient variant on this is for each runner/walker to have his/her own set of vehicle keys. LEAP-FROGGING WITH CONCURRENT TRAVEL: Normal when a team comprises two sub-teams each of 3 walkers/cyclists and one vehicle. Sub-team A/B/C and sub-team D/E/F. Participants D, E and F drive to the END of the first segment, (for example 9kms ahead) and start walking, concurrently with sub-team ABC. In sub-team ABC, Participant A sets off to complete his split. (for example 3kms.) Participants B and C drive to the end of Participant A's split. Immediately, Participant B starts walking, and Participant C waits with the car until Participant A arrives. Always a good time for a quick cup of tea! On Participant A's arrival, A and C drive to the end of the Participant B's Split. Once there, Participant C starts walking immediately leaving A waiting with the vehicle. Participant B arrives and A and B drive to the end of the first segment to await C's arrival. 9kms done! Meanwhile D, E AND F have done the same to the end of the second segment. 18kms done! A, B and C leapfrog to the END of D, E and F's segment (segment 2) and start walking again. D, E and F leapfrog to the end of ABC's second 9kms (end of segment 3), and start walking again. 36kms done! And so on....




Can relay teams choose their own distances (splits) within the team?


Yes. The only stipulation within the spirit of the event is that every metre of the distance should be covered by at least one participant.





Support

Is back-up provided?


NO. Participants must be entirely self-sufficient. Any logistical assistance that may be provided by the organisers must be considered a bonus.




Are there any water points along the route?


There are no official water points along the route. Participants may re-supply at Chipinge, Chimanimani, Mutare and Juliasdale. Also, the location of hand pumps on local boreholes are shown on the routes published on the website. Please be courteous and ask the local residents if you may fill up your containers.




Where can I get help downloading the route onto the GPS/Mobile Phone?


Send an email to us and one of our organizing team will get back to you with assistance.




Are there route marshalls along the way?


No. Participants navigate by GPS, so please ensure that you are fully prepared with the ability to download your route onto your GPS/Mobile phone even during the event. This is a self-supported adventure event.




Do seconders have to pay an entrance fee?


National Parks fees are covered for all participants by the registration fees. Please be prepared to pay for Park Entry fees at Nyanga for seconders/back up crew and family members.





Safety & protocol

What is the protocol when being approached by a traditional leader in a rural campsite?


Appreciate that the campsite chosen is on the leader's turf, so request his permission to camp there. Leaders can be invaluable sources of information and can help deal with inquisitive bystanders. It is a good idea to have a small gift to offer to the leader, such as a 2kg bag of sugar or salt or maize meal.




Is it safe to walk alone in the communal areas?


The SPCA Blue Cross Zimbabwe has been staged over many years, and participants have always found the rural people to be exceedingly friendly and cheerful, even during electioneering!





Fitness

Can anyone participate in the Blue Cross or is it just for endurance athletes?


The Blue Cross offers a discipline suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. Participants can opt for a discipline and time schedule to suit their own level of fitness. Endurance athletes who do the whole 500kms are truly respected, and the original event was designed for them, but the relay participants are helping us to survive. People expecting to do the relay must be regular walkers, should be equipped for camping out, and should have a GPS




When do I need to start training?


As an ultra distance event, the Blue Cross demands sustained physical activity over a number of days. Previous participants in the Blue Cross are experienced in what is required, and are the best people to consult for guidance on appropriate training regimes. Solo participants whether in the MTB or Infantry Disciplines need to spend considerable time on the road to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the Event.





General

What is the Blue Cross?


The Blue Cross is an annual ultra distance adventure event held to raise funds for animal welfare charities, most notably the SPCA. Participants cycle, run, walk, enduro or horse ride 500 kms from the lowest point to the highest point in Zimbabwe. The start point is near Chilo Safari Lodge on the border of the Gonarezhou National Park. The finish is at the peak of Mount Nyangani, in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. The entire event is organized by the Volunteers at SPCA Mutare, Zimbabwe, and money raised is allocated to regional SPCAs as per requests. It is our single biggest fundraiser, and without the amazing particpants, we would not survive. It's an adventure, a sporting event, a remote expedition, a heart-warming team-spirited challenge LIKE NO OTHER, FOR A CAUSE LIKE NO OTHER!




When does the event start and finish?


The only fixed date on the Blue Cross is the last day of the Heroes Day long weekend, when all participants climb Mount Nyangani as a group. Participants can start the event whenever they wish, provided that they are ready to climb the mountain from the Mount Nyangani car park on the Summit day. This is the first chance you get to meet all the other participants from the different disciplines. For any questions regarding these dates, PLEASE CONTACT US as we will help you to decide your dates. We highly recommend that if you are walking the relay, you contact us, and walk alongside us if this is your first Blue Cross. Please check the calendar on the Home Page for this year's schedule




Is a record kept of all Blue Cross finishers?


Yes. All solo participants (of the full event) reaching the summit of Mt Nyangani sign "The Blue Book" which is the official event record. Relay participants sign the Brown Book. Part of the commitment of signing the books and having your Blue Cross recognized is the raising of the minimum sponsorship for the SPCAs.(see the Home Page for details) All participants have their details captured for the Event database managed by the organsiers.




Have you advice and tips for participants on planning?


Please contact bjcleggzim@yahoo.com for an email: Handy Tips for an easier Blue Cross. We will put you in touch with the best person to answer your queries.





Covid-19 Protocols

Are there any special protocols to be followed to mitigate the threat of Covid-19?


By its very nature, the Blue Cross is categorised as a Low Risk activity. It is crucial, however, that each and every participant/back up crew member takes all standard precautions to reduce the possibility of contagion. That includes, but is not limited to: * Regular hand washing and/or use of hand sanitiser. * Physical distancing of not less than 2m. * Limiting personal contact to those within the group or the team. * Limiting the maximum no of persons in a vehicle to 4. * Wearing a Face Mask or equivalent when not engaged in any strenuous physical activity. * Wiping down/disinfecting (whether or not supplied with the chemical) of any publicly used items or surfaces before and after use.eg GPS units to be wiped down with hand sanitiser at handover/takeover. * Limiting numbers in tents to no more than 2 persons. * Using and personally washing dedicated crockery and cutlery.





Our Address

MUTARE SPCA

5 St Helens Drive, Nyakamete

MUTARE, ZIMBABWE

Contact Us

TEL JANE CLEGG

+263 (0) 784213618

E-MAIL: bjcleggzim@yahoo.com

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BLUE CROSS ULTRA EVENT - SPCA ZIMBABWE