The seventy-third English National Cross-Country Championships were held at Dartmouth Park, West Bromwich and were sponsored by the News of the World newspaper. The course was three laps of three miles and the rain had made the going tough in some areas, there were obstacles to overcome and plenty of uneven ground and the odd pothole and some hills.
Gordon Pirie (South London Harriers) showed aggression in the early stages to take the lead but Basil Heatley (Coventry Godiva Harriers) was soon upon him and after 1½ miles had opened up a 30-yard lead. Heatley, the Midland champion, utilised to the full his knowledge of the terrain gathered in recent training runs on the course and by the end of the first lap his lead had increased to 40 yards. Gerry North (Blackpool and Fylde Harriers), whom many held as the favourite, gamely chased Heatley but could not make any inroads. At the end of lap two Heatley's lead stretched to 100 yards, Stan Eldon (Windsor and Eton Harriers) was moving up fast and had taken second place.
Heatley, a 26-year-old parks gardener, continued to build on his lead in the third lap and went on to break the tape in 45min. 15sec., 28 seconds ahead of John Merriman (Watford Harriers) the Southern Counties champion. Third place went to policeman Stan Eldon.
Heatley had realised his life's ambition and said afterwards: "The mud was worse than I expected, and it made me tired, I decided to go into an early lead and hold it if possible.".