General expectations prior to the National Cross-Country Championships at Arrowe Park in Birkenhead were that Gordon Pirie (South London Harriers) would successfully defend his individual title. Many spectators turned up for the event, so much so that the ECCU president Fred Ireland and his wife had to take money and tear tickets. The three lap course was fairly flat with only gradual inclines and generally firm but had some soft clayey mud in places, the also runners had to contend with tank tracks made by 113 Assault regiment Royal Engineers T.A.
Pirie had prepared for the race by practising on the course the day before the race and as he did at Caversham Park went off at a cracking pace covering the first half mile in two minutes. Young Ken Norris (Thames Valley Harriers), who was unbeaten in cross country races prior to the National and Southern champion, showed great pluck trying to minimise the gap. At a mile and a half Pirie had a 20 yard lead on Norris, at three miles this was extended to 30 yards, Frank Sando being 70 yards further back.
At four miles Pirie had forty yards to spare and at seven Norris was showing signs of strain and was 100 yards in arrears. By the time Pirie breasted the tape Norris was 150 yards behind. A great victory for Pirie who looked extremely fit and made the win look easy, his winning time for the 92/3 mile course was 50min. 55sec. Frank Sando (Aylesford Paper Mills) runner-up in 1953, took third place. C. M. Gray (Small Heath), the Midland champion, was fourth.