The eighty ninth English Cross-Country for senior men took place at Western Park, Leicester and as sponsored by Provincial Insurance Co Ltd. This was the second time the race had taken place in Leicester with the same location being used in 1964. A record number of runners (1314) lined up for the race on a cold day, the course consisted of three loops of three miles on parkland. The runners were set on their way by Lord Mayor of Leicester Mrs Lily Roma Marriott.
The champions for the previous two races Dave Black and Inter-Counties winner Tony Simmons were non-starters. Neil Coupland (Southampton & Eastleigh AC) was the Southern champion and the runner up for the last two years Bernie Ford (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) and Ian Thompson (Luton United Harriers), Britain's big hope for a marathon gold medal in Montreal, were expected to feature at the sharp end of the race.
In-form Tipton Harriers were expected to figure strongly in the team race but they were expecting strong opposition from Gateshead Harriers - last year's runaway winners and Liverpool Harriers and Airedale and Spen Valley AC, the two teams just below Gateshead.
At the end of the first lap three runners were to the fore Bernie Ford, 22-year-old Dave Moorcroft (Coventry Godiva Harriers) and Grenville Tuck (Cambridge & Coleridge AC) and just behind them came Andy McKean (Edinburgh AC), Dave Slater (Leeds City AC), Steve Kenyon (Bolton United Harriers), Chris Garforth (Gateshead Harriers) and Alwyn Dewhirst (Airedale & Spen Valley AC).
Halfway around the second lap Moorcroft had the lead but overhauled the less experienced Moorcroft and when the second lap was concluded Ford's lead over Moorcroft was 10 seconds with Tuck further back in third.
Kenyon had moved up to 4th with McKean 5th. Ford continued to increase his advantage over Moorcroft and with a mile to go it stood at 18 seconds, Kenyon had passed Tuck for third. Moorcroft pulled back some of Ford's lead in the last mile but Ford won in 43mins. 26 secs. 13 seconds ahead of Moorcroft.
Bernie Ford said about winning the 'National' - "It didn't mean anything, quite honestly, the club asked me to run". After the race Moorcroft said of his first senior race "I didn't know what to expect. I thought I might take things easy for a while, but then I changed my mind and decided to be up front from the start. I tried to stay with Bernie, but he just pulled away at a crucial stage." said 22-year-old Moorcroft. Former winner Dick Taylor who ran for the same club said of Moorcroft "There's no doubt it was a tremendous run from David. It takes a of guts and tenacity to finish that high. I knew he always had the ability to do well, and now he's really putting it together. He was moving well, even towards the end of the race, and it must be one of the best-ever performances from a recognised 1500 metres man."