Stopsley Sports Centre in Luton hosted the ninety second Seniors Men's English National Cross-Country Race. The course consisted of three laps of three miles and included park land and plough. Temperatures were warm for the time of year but there was some wind.
The event continued to grow in popularity and another record field participated.
Mick McLeod said before the race "Its very hard to say what will happen on Saturday, I am not used to nine-mile cross-country races and any one of six men could take first place." Mick had won 6 races in France, Ireland and Spain was a hot favourite and other fancied runners were Steve Ovett (Brighton & Hove AC), Brendan Foster (Gateshead Harriers), Nick Rose (Bristol AC), Tony Simmons (Luton United Harriers) and Bernie Ford (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC). Steve Kenyon (Bolton United Harriers) who had retained the Northern title was a contender but Midland champion Dave Black and Southern title-holder John Davies were absent.
Gateshead Harriers were widely tipped to pick up the team title.
Local runner Tony Simmons who won National on this course in 1975 and Barry Smith (Gateshead Harriers) were the first to show. By the end of the first lap Ford, Rose and McLeod were at the front with Smith and Ovett just adrift.
Two thirds of the way around the second lap Rose and McLeod had opened up a gap of 10m over Ford. 15m further back were Kenyon, Smith and Julian Goater (Shaftesbury Harriers).
Over the next mile Ford closed up on the leading two and the trio thrilled the crowd as they battled over every step of the last lap.
McLeod made his move from 150m out and sprinted to a fine victory. Mr Consistency Bernie Ford was second for the fourth time in the last six years, on the other two occasions he picked up gold. Rose took the bronze with Kenyon 4th, only six seconds covered the first four men.
McLeod played down his victory saying, "As far as I'm concerned it was just another race".
With 6 runners in the first 60 places Gateshead Harriers won the team title by 78 points - their fifth win in the past seven years. The holders, Tipton Harriers, were edged out of the silver medals by Airedale & Spen Valley AC.