The wretched weather and the heavy state of the coarse resulted in all-round upheaval of form in the National Cross-Country Championship at Chesham on Saturday, and many of the champions who were expected to fight out the finish failed to stay the distance, and did not count in the race. The three divisional champions, Northern, Southern, and Midlands, cut up in sorry fashion, A. H. Nicholls, of the South, being the only one to finish, and he was as far back as the twenty-first position nearly six minutes behind the winner, C. H. Ruffell, whom he defeated last month in the Southern event. The Midland teams experienced great difficulty in arriving at Chesham. They took the train to High Wycombe, and completed the journey motor chara-a-banc, but the hilly nature of the country resulted in a very late arrival. Sparkhill, Tipton, and Small Heath reaching the dressing rooms at the hour fixed for the race. This caused a late start, and it was fully twenty-five minutes after the advertised time before the competitors were lined up.
The start was a faulty one, the 273 runners being allowed to go in the first breakaway, no signal having been given officially. All the twenty-six teams were represented, the crowd of supporters, which numbered some two thousand, giving a hearty cheer as the field dashed away. The enthusiasm amongst the Aldershot division, who with the Pipers of the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers were in great force, livened up the proceedings. As the competitors raced passed the judges after the first 2,000 yards, E. Glover, of Hallamshire, held a slight lead from H. Britton, Derby, and A. H. Nicholls, Derby. The leaders did not look comfortable, and when the first man arrived from the country course a great change was witnessed.
C. H. Ruffell had worked his way through the field and held a lead of fifty yards, his time being 24min. 28sec. C. Vose, Warrington, was second, and J. Wootton, North Staffordshire, third; but Glover and Sanderson were missing and Nicholls was a long way back. Birchfield appeared to be holding a great winning chance, they had eight or nine men well placed. At about seven miles there was another change. Many of the competitors had retired on account of the severe nature of the course. North Staffordshire were prominent, Birchfield having lost many places, and Surrey appeared with the last mentioned club to be well in the running for the club championship. Ruffell had increased his lead, and was followed by J. Wilson (Slough H.) and J. Hughes (Surrey A.C.) The leader's time was 47min. 1sec. Ruffell, who continued to run on with great dash, increased his lead and finished nearly a minute in front of the second man, Sergeant O'Neal, who displayed wonderful stamina, gaining ground very rapidly and defeating J. Wilson, of Slough, who failed to hold him in the last quarter of a mile. Ralph Stanton, of Birchfield, was a splendid fourth. J. Wootton (North Stafford) fifth, and J. Hughes (Surrey) sixth.