A PEEBLES man defied expectations by taking third spot in one of the world’s toughest triathlons – just three months after breaking his back in a training accident.

The extreme Celtman event comprises a 3.4km cold, jelly fish-infested sea loch swim, 200km cycle with more than 2,000m of elevation and a 42km off-road mountain run over two Munros in the Scottish Highlands.

Iain Veitch suffered a bad fall while running in late March which left him with a fractured vertebrae.

After the diagnosis it was presumed this would be the end of his season and the focus would be on rehabilitation.

Instead, recovery went really well and although a huge amount of training was lost there was an outside chance that completing the Celtman race earlier this month was going to be possible.

Three weeks out, the decision was made to go for it.

Veitch said: “Bagpipes, drums and flaming Celtic runes got us under way at 5am.

“A new thermal wetsuit did its job perfectly so I didn’t get cold and the jelly fish were actually a cool addition to the scenery. I was just slightly off my pre-injury target time and feeling good.”

He added: “The bike was tough. It’s 20km longer than a typical Ironman race and the terrain is constantly undulating.

“Through the injury I had not spent enough time in the time trial position. This took its toll on the day but my support team were superb. We were still going well and in touch with the leader by the end.”

Veitch said the scenery on the run was “jaw dropping” but the route was testing.

“The first half of the run went well but once I got up into the high mountains my batteries expired,” he said. “It was really frustrating as this is when I normally do well but running was the discipline that suffered the most after the injury. I lost touch with the leader and then lost second place, but managed to hold onto third.

“I had said before starting that I would still try and race rather than aim to simply get around the course. I would rather risk blowing up than nurse my way around.

“In the end this is what happened but taking the third spot was a welcome reward for rolling the dice and probably a better result than I had any right to expect given the lead up.

“Credit for this has to be given to my superb support crew of Sean McFarlan, Chris Volley and Mike Sharples, and sponsors Orca, 361 and Ciovita.”