The English Cross-Country Championships were held at Roundhay Park in Leeds, the senior event was the ninety first running of the race. The weather on the day was fine and bright and the going was good, the course consisted of three large laps of three miles each and included the famous 'Hill 60' that is so steep and concave that if you watch from the top the runners disappear when they start their ascent. This was the first time the city of Leeds had hosted the 'National' and the sponsors were the Provincial Insurance Company.
Leading contenders for the race were Steve Kenyon (Bolton United Harriers) who had won the Northern title, Neil Coupland (Southampton and Eastleigh AC) the Southern champion, Dave Black (Small Heath Harriers) held the Midland title and Inter-Counties winner was Steve Ovett (Brighton & Hove AC). Bernie Ford (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) and Tony Simmons (Luton United Harriers) were also expected to feature. Ian Stewart (Tipton Harriers) was hoping to emulate the performance of sister Mary who won the Women's National Cross-Country crown the previous week.
After the first mile the lead group consisted of six, namely Ford, Mick McLeod (Elswick Harriers), Simmons, Ian Stewart, Dennis Coates (Gateshead Harriers) and Dave Black. At the end of the first lap Coates had dropped off and Ovett was chasing the leaders. During the second lap Stewart set a blistering pace and Ford, Simmons and Black struggled to keep up with the tartan brummie. Ford made up a good deal of ground on the hill at the end of the third lap and had overhauled Stewart half a mile into the final lap. Simmons was 70m back in third place with Black 120m further behind. The race was far from over as Ford and Stewart battled over the last lap and the crowd were treated to a great duel. They started the final ascent of 'Hill 60' locked together, Ford used his strength going up the hill to open up a small gap of 5 metres by the summit and he held on to this advantage to win by 3 seconds in 41 minutes 34 seconds. Tony Simmons was third and Steve Ovett gained a few places in the closing stages to finish fourth.
In five years, since 1974, Ford the 25-year-old Feltham taxman has won the title twice and been second three times, after the race Ford said "That finishing straight seemed endless, 'Come on, come on' I was saying to myself, expecting Ian to pull level at any moment." And declared the win "His sweetest victory" due to a number of top runners being absent last time Bernie won in 1976.