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RELAY WALKERS & RUNNERS ROUTE - DAY ZERO
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.
THIS YEAR WE WELCOME FULL 500KM EVENT WALKERS, AND RUNNERS, AND RELAY PARTICIPANTS.
It is a long drive to the lowest point in Zimbabwe at the confluence of the Save and Runde Rivers. Relay walkers and runners will start their 2020 Blue Cross by backtracking on the route to their first overnight camp 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. BOOK EARLY.
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY ONE
Day One starts with a drive to Day Zero start point where the day's walk commences. The road winds through the communal area adjacent to the Mozambique border. The back-country feeling is 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 extensive areas of black cotton soil and there are a number of gullies and washaways to be negotiated by the backup vehicles. A particularly tricky gully is reached at the point named Obstacle. 4x4 and low range are useful but the gully is, nevertheless, negotiable by 2WD high clearance vehicles. Shortly after Mwangazi village the route begins to climb towards the Chikore Mission area. This night stop is reached on the playing field opposite Musikavanhu Primary School, where a serviced camp site greets tired and dusty participants with bush toilets and hot showers.
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY TWO
DAY TWO takes participants from Musikavanhu Primary School to Fiddlers Green, a distance of 59.8 kms. Although relatively short, the going is tough with some steep and stony hills. Back up vehicles will face a number of challenging sections demanding some low range work. A few of the highlights are a beautiful woodland of mature Miombo, covered in orchids, and a valley of giant forest trees. Only on the Blue Cross!
Overnight accommodation is available at Fiddlers on the Green. Participants are free to sleep on the floor in the main hall or pitch their tents on the Polo Field. Hot showers are available and a wholesome supper and breakfast are provided by the ladies from the local community.
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY THREE
DAY THREE 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, running 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. Participants will still see evidence of the destruction wrought by Cyclone Idai in 2019. Some of the scars are beginning to heal but the Nyahode River, now 300 metres wide, continues to dominate 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, participants are uplifted by vehicle into the village, passing Ngangu Township, devastated by Cyclone IDAI in 2019, 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.
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY THREE PROFILE
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY FOUR
DAY FOUR is the longest day for the walking/running 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 from year to year, but is 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 which were effected on the low level bridge just south of Cashel Village are still holding.
An 11 km stretch of tar road then takes participants 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. Toilets and hot showers are provided in a stunning area of miombo woodland and granite kopjies.
Elevation Profile Day 4
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY FIVE
DAY FIVE 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 accommodation. Participants may camp at Mutare's Hillside Sports Club in Murambi central suburb. Hot showers are available and dinner may be PRE-ORDERED and taken on the club's lovely deck. Drinks are also available from the bar. See Overnight on this website for other options
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY SIX
Elevation Profile Day 5
On DAY SIX, after sleeping over in Mutare, participants take the Christmas Pass road out of the city and start the day's walk/run 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 participants at the Bonda road, the back up vehicles take the short cut past Bonda Mission and up the Chamakohwa Road to their chosen overnight stop in Juliasdale or Nyanga.
The National Parks cottages at Rhodes are recommended if you can get a booking but Mare, Udu or even Rhodes Nyanga Hotel are also recommended. Camping is available, but the Nyangombe campsite is notoriously chilly!
Elevation Profile Day 6
The "Bonda Bump".
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY SEVEN
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 participants 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 enjoy a festive, colourful and emotional welcome from the Mutare SPCA team. Seconders and families join us all to celebrate participants' achievements! Mutare SPCA supply THE BEST WORS OR BACON AND EGG ROLLS, TEAS AND COFFEE
Elevation Profile Day 7
WALKING / RUNNING ROUTE - DAY EIGHT
All of Day eight is subject to Covid-19 protocols. Assuming that the risks associated with climbing the mountain and holding the Spirit Lunch can be managed, the day 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.
There the particulars of soloists and relay participants are entered by a Blue Cross official into the Blue Book and Relay Book respectively.
Should a celebratory lunch at the Rhodes Hall be possible, we ask that, once off the mountain, please head straight to the Rhodes Hall without taking time to shower and change, as those wishing to leave early from the lunch will need time to reach their destinations before dark. We try to make it special & fun, and it is the only time you will meet all the participants of this year's event.
Please bring along a cooler box with your preferred tipple.
Elevation Profile Summit Day 8