Both the men and women were fourth twelve months ago but this time had to settle for sixth and 14th respectively.
The men’s result was particularly tough for the men’s team manager Mike Down and leading athlete Steve Mitchell (pictured).
Mitchell was handed a 13-seconds lead when he took over on the fourth and final stage after a terrific start by Dan Studley, Owain Jones and Will Christofi.
Normally there would be no safer man to take on the responsibility of a pressure situation like that than Mitchell but Down revealed that the athlete was feeling far from his best and could have been forgiven for not even travelling.
“When Steve arrived one side f his face was all swollen up,” said Down. “He had had dental treatment the previous Monday but something had gone wrong and on Friday he was in a lot of pain.
“He had taken pain killers on the way up and said he would run but he was clearly not right. He held it together well for the first lap and still had a lead of around 10 seconds and for a moment it looked like all our dreams were finally going to come true and we would win the event.
“But half way around the final lap the lights went out. He lost three places and the bronze medal in the finishing straight. Steve did all he could and t was wicked for him.”
ECCA Relays – men: 1 Morpeth 61:38; 2 Highgate 61:39; 3 Tonbridge 62:07.
6 Bristol & West AC 62:17 (Dan Studley 15:19 7th, Owain Jones 15:26 3rd, Will Christofi 15:29 1st, Steve Mitchell 16:01).
Women: 1 Leeds 29:37. 14 Bristol & West AC 31:54 (Charlotte Green 10:16 21st, Kate Hulls 9:52 7th, Clare Jolliffe 11:46 14th).