I had planned to cycle Henry Blake's Cairngorm 100, but I couldn't face the long drive up the A9, plus the forecast looked much better for the Scottish Borders so I made the fairly short drive down to Durisdeer for this low-key classic hill race.
It was only my third time at Durisdeer. In 2005 I ran 1:57:19 in thick clag to finish 8th, and in 2008 I ran 1:43:22 to finish 70th when it was a British Championship race.
I knew I wasn't likely to run 1:43 again, but hoped to do a bit better than 1:57.
There was a pretty small field of only 34 runners, and Tom Owens disappeared out of sight within the first 5 minutes. I plugged away in 4th position to the summit of Black Hill, with Alan Smith and Dave Eiser not far in front.
I stopped briefly at the summit of Black Hill to let Adam Anderson past and to follow his descent line. Russell Anderson also passed me on the descent, but I soon caught him again after we crossed the road to Dalveen farm. David White and Natalie White (no relation) also joined us for the descent down to Enterkin Burn.
The four of us were never that far apart as we climbed over the Steygail col and re-crossed the road. I should probably have started climbing the hill immediately after the road, but instead experimented with running down the road for a few 100 metres. I think this only helped in letting Russell catch us up again.
On the steep climb up Well Hill, Dave and Russell pulled away from me, but I managed to hold my gap on Natalie who wasn't far behind. From Well Hill to the end I felt a bit slow and weary, but tried to keep pressing in the hope of getting sub 1:50, but I couldn't summon up much pace and clocked 1:51:32 for 7th place.
Tom Owens finished first in 1:28:14 with a winning margin of more than 12 minutes.