Feeling like we needed our fix of long boggy team events Libby and I signed up to the Four Inns race on the 24th March which is organised by Derbyshire scouts. It is a 65km linear route from Holmbridge to Buxton over classic Peak District boggy moorland. It takes it’s name from the 4 pubs along its route, The Isle of Skye (site of), the Snake Pass Inn, the Nags Head and the Cat and Fiddle. Sadly only 2 of these are currently open and only 3 are still standing – there went our dreams of a pub stop every 10 miles!
As Bo and Corin were unavailable to run we recuruited the lovely Helen as an honorary Bog Beauty for the event. Despite the Beast from the East trying its best to hamper our training plans we managed to get in a few long runs and the weekend before the event we finally made it out to recce the last section from Chapel-en-le-Frith to Buxton in truely arctic conditions!
Feeling a little undertrained but confident we could at least walk the distance we were glad when the wintery weather seemed to have passed for race day! Steve kindly dropped us off at Holmbridge Parish Hall on Friday evening. It was a hive of activity and we were registered swiftly by the super-organised event team and set up camp in the corner of the hall. Rather than pouring over the map, like the majority of the teams there, we spent the evening puzzling over a quiz some young scouts had made to fundraise for a trip.
We were woken early by the race organisers, ate obscene amounts of weetabix then waited for our start time at 6:40. We set off and happily jogged along passing many walking teams on route to the first checkpoint (the site of the Isle of Skye Inn below Black Hill). Everyone was very friendly despite a short nights sleep. Navigation was easy until the summit of Black Hill where it became very foggy and we followed a bearing and faint trods until Hey Moss checkpoint. We descended out of the clag and had glorious views.
We had a quick pit stop at Crowden activity centre then continuted along the Pennine way to Torside and over Bleaklow. It is not the most direct route but as we hadn’t recced a better route across Bleaklow we stuck to the Pennine way, until we cut a corner to reach the Doctor’s Gate checkpoint. The Pennine way is never as runnable as we expect and we had many big snowdrifts which haven’t quite melted to negotiate. It felt quite difficult in places and Libby lived up to her reputation for falling into every hidden hole/through every snowdrift! For next year we will definitely be researching a more efficient route across. We were treated with more friendly faces and fantastic food at Doctor’s gate before a slightly scary but easy run down the A57 to the Snake Pass Inn.
It is a steep but short climb up onto Kinder but it didn’t take us too long and we were soon in Edale after making the short crossing of the plateau. It began to rain and the climb up Chapel Gate felt like it went on for a long time but once we reached the top it was all downhill into Chapel-en-le-Frith where we had yet more delicious food courtesy of the event team – onion bharjis, pakora, a huge selection of sandwiches, sweets, crisps and more! To add to the amazing support at the checkpoints we were also greeted at many of the road crossings by a friendly group of supporters who always cheered us along and were amazingly encouraging. We spent a little longer at this checkpoint to attend some niggles and sore patches where bags had been rubbing and it was a nice opportunity to refuel and chat to some other teams coming through.
As we had recced the last section out of Chapel-en-le-Frith the previous weekend this last section didn’t seem so daunting despite the ascent up to the Cat and Fiddle – the weather was a whole lot better than the recce – we just needed to keep moving. There is a quite a lot of road in this section which was easy to move over but hard on the feet. We were also regularly passing scout teams walking the 35km version of the course. It was interesting to chat to them and their leaders about the organisation and history of the event. We arrived into Buxton Community School at 5:14 (after getting a bit lost trying to find the entrance!) 10 hours and 34 minutes after we set off.
We were plied with tea and biscuits by the amazing checkpoint team on arrival and were thrilled to learn that we were 10th overall and first ladies team! We had a fantastic day out and were blown away by the fantastic value and organisation of this event. Everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive and we have never eaten so well, before during and after a race. We’ll definitely be back!