The eleventh annual race for the National Cross-country Championship took place at Four Oaks Park, Sutton Coldfield, on Saturday afternoon. Probably the great attraction in the football matches accounted for the smallness of the attendance, not more than 500 persons being present during the race. As compared with former years, the interest in the event was very flat. Although general opinion was strongly biased in favour of the Birchfield Harriers, the holders of the championship.
Half-a-dozen teams entered, viz. - Birchfield Harriers, Bristol Athletic Club, Bristol Harriers, Burton Harriers, Godiva Harriers, and South London Harriers, and the number of starters was fifty-two. The course, consisted of a start opposite the club stand, once round the circle and then out into the country for a stretch of between five and six miles, the runners again entering the park at the lower end, and finishing up the straight.
On the signal for starting being given a bevy of the Birchfield men faced together slightly in front of their opponents: but before the course had been traversed once several of the runners fell out. On passing the grand stand prior to the cross-country part of the distance Hickman, the famous long-distance runner of the Godiva Harriers, was leading by a couple of hundred yards; Thornton, Mabbett, and Cope being close together, whilst the majority were struggling along in the rear in two's and three's. W. H. Coad, the well-known Southerner, occupied eighth position.
It was palpable even from this point that Hickman would sustain his reputation, and outstrip the other competitors, also that the Birchfield men would again, secure the chief honours in the aggregate. Going across the country Hickman continued to improve his position, and Thornton and several others of the Birchfield team kept well in advance of the bulk of the runners. On re-entering the park the Godiva man was leading by nearly a quarter of a mile, in fact he was so far in advance of the others that many of the spectators seemed dubious as to the course taken, but the evidence of the judges was sufficient proof that the distance had been fairly covered.