The ninety-sixth English National Cross-Country Championships took place on Stopsley Common, Luton with hundreds of clubs taking part and the race again sponsored by Provincial Insurance Company Limited.
The three-lap course of fast parkland was estimated to be at least one mile short of the published nine miles.
The race was wide open with many runners expected to contest for the title. Reigning champion Dave Clarke (Hercules Wimbledon AC) was attempting to defend his title, Mike McLeod (Elswick Harriers) was return to the scene of his 1979 triumph hoping that history would repeat itself, Julian Goater (Shaftesbury Harriers) was a late withdrawal due to injury. David Lewis (Rossendale Harriers) in his first year as a senior was also in top form and had secured the Northern title. Southern champion was Bob Treadwell (Surrey Beagles AC) and Steve Harris (Shaftesbury Harriers) held the Inter-Counties title.
In the team race, the consistent Tipton Harriers were fancied to retain their title, Aldershot, Farnham & District were third last year without Bernie Ford and had a great chance.
After the starter had set the huge field on their way Dave Clarke went straight to the front, with Karl Harrison (Stretford AC) and Eamonn Martin (Basildon AAC) challenging. As the race unfolded, Clarke maintained the lead with Mike McLeod, Roger Hackney (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC), Tim Hutchings (Crawley AC), Kevin Forster (Saltwell Harriers), Mike Bishop (Staffordshire Moorlands AC), Bernie Ford , Steve Harris and Dave Lewis close up. At the end of the first lap Fortser, Hutchings and Clarke had opened up a 30m gap.
Out on the second lap the leading trio increased their lead and by the end of the lap by the Sports Centre the break was 80m. Ford and Harris jointly held fourth place.
Hutchings made a vital move during the final lap pulling clear, with only Clarke following, as the lap wore on Clarke couldn't keep pace with Hutchings. Kevin Forster was in third place 50m adrift.
With one mile to go Hutchings looked back to find Clarke 20m adrift and he went on to win by 17 seconds in 37:28. After the race the 24-year-old champion Tim Hutchings said "I felt very confident throughout the second lap. I felt I was jogging at times behind the two of them; I felt great. I only run 80-85 miles a week, so I can be training at virtually full mileage and it doesn't tire me out."
Clarke claimed the silver medal and Forster held on for bronze.