This was my 12th Two Breweries in a row, and the weather was about as perfect as you could imagine, if a fraction on the warm side.
It was slightly daunting and frustrating setting off with my back in pain after the fall at Three Shires last weekend. I had no idea how I would complete the race, given how much my back was hurting just getting out of the car. The only hope was to set off ridiculously slowly and see if I could survive.
The problem was that every time my foot hit a tussock or slipped on the path, I got a wave of pain jarring through the ribs in my back. And the Two Breweries race route is not known for being totally smooth and tussock-free.
I reached the summit of Birkscairn Hill way down the field, and dreading the descent to Glensax. I pottered down through the heather with shooting pains through my back, watching lots of folk gallop past, including Steffen and Graham Kelly from Westies, and Gordon Pryde & Dom Ketley amongst others.
Once on the bowling green smooth ascent, I took a gel and drink and then overtook about 10 runners on the climb to Hundleshope, almost but not quite catching Morag McCracken.
After Hundleshope, the heathery traverse round to Stob Law was a joke. The muddy slippery trod was playing havoc with my back, so I stepped off the path and let all the runners go by who I'd past on the previous climb. I then just about caught them back again on the climb up Stob Law, before once again they all disappeared on the long descent to Glenrath Farm.
Once you hit the Glenrath farm track, the route suddenly becomes extremely runnable, barring 2 short steep climbs up Whitelaw and Trahenna. I therefore decided to start pressing, and reeled in 8 or so runners before the firebreak up Whitelaw, getting just ahead of Morag McCracken at last. After Whitelaw I wasn't that keen on having anyone catching me, so managed to get to Stobo without dropping any places, and passed Iain Gilmore who was clearly struggling, just before the road to Stobo.
I grabbed a bottle at Stobo and then set a target of catching the 2 runners ahead, one of whom was Duncan Ball of Penicuik Harriers. Once across the dam I headed for the left edge of the wood, with a Westie runner not far ahead - I think this was Cameron Burt, but couldn't get close enough to be sure.
Peter Mackie was also not far ahead, and by taking a better line, I reached the summit of Trahenna ahead of him. I could see Gregor Stewart over to the right, clearly having a bad day at the hill office. It was good to get a shout and some banter from Muffy & Dave Calder at top of Trahenna, before beginning the final descent.
My pedestrian approach this year, combined with gels and powders, meant I did not have the slightest flinch of cramp on the run off to Broughton. Only the nagging pain in my back, meaning I had to walk any rough bits, and run very gingerly where I could. I passed Gregor Stewart and John Binnie who were both hobbling with cramp, before Peter Mackie caught me. I stepped off the path to let him go by, but once on the Greenmantle Dash descent, he also pulled up with cramp, allowing me to pass and then to press on and grab a couple more places on the road.
So, despite it being almost exactly 27 minutes slower then last year, I was pleased I managed to complete the route without having to drop out, and must have passed about 20 runners from Glenrath to the end, without dropping any places.