Foots Cray Meadows, an area of parkland and woodland of 240 acres in size within the London Borough of Bexley, played host to the fifty-fifth Senior Women's National Cross-Country Championships. The course was 5000 metres and had a long 800 metres climb in the middle of each of the two laps. Provincial Insurance Limited once again sponsored the event.
Double World Cross-Country Champion Zola Budd (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) was not able to run due to leg and hip problems and Clevedon AC's Carole Bradford, the title holder, has also been struggling for fitness. Jane Shields (Sheffield AC), who was second in 1986, Jill Hunter (Blaydon Harriers), the Northern champion, Sally Ellis (Worcester AC), the Southern winner, Chris Benning (Southampton & Eastleigh AC) and Christina Cahill (Gateshead Harriers) were expected to make their mark.
Overnight rain turned the course into a mud bath and made the going tough. After the starter had set them on their way the leading group included Chris Benning, Alison Wyeth (Southampton & Eastleigh AC), Sue Crehan (Sale Harriers), Sally Ellis, Julie Laughton (Derby Ladies AC), Glynis Penny (Cambridge Harriers), Jill Clarke (Sheffield AC), Julie Asgill (Stretford AC), Jane Shields, Jill Hunter and Chris Cahill. After two kilometres the field began to stretch out with Jane Shields, Chris Benning and Alison Wyeth ahead of Sally Ellis, Jill Clarke and Julie Asgill.
At the start of the second lap Jane Shields, Alison Wyeth and Sally Ellis were 20 metres ahead of Chris Benning, Sue Crehan and Jill Clarke, with 17-year-old Fiona Truman (Notts AC) in seventh. During the second lap Jane Shields started to open up a gap from Sally Ellis who in turn drew away from Alison Wyeth. Jane Shields won in 21:03, ten seconds clear of Sally Ellis with Alison Wyeth third and Fiona Truman fourth.
This was Jane's second 'National' individual title as she won in 1984 under her maiden name of Furniss. Shields, who had been training under the guidance of Alan Storey since before Christmas, told Athletics Weekly "I'm feeling a bit more confident in what I'm doing now. I've been doing a lot more mileage and I've been combining it with two or three quality sessions a week."