The 1987 running of the English National Cross-Country Championships at Stopsley Common, Luton was the hundredth edition of the race. Whilst the Union as a body celebrated its centenary in 1983, the championship itself has had to wait until 1987 to reach its century since no races were held during the two World Wars. The race is older than the Union by some seven years, the first successful championship being held in 1877 at Roehampton and run over Wimbledon Common. An attempt was made in 1876 at Buckhurst Hill, but the trail dried up, all 32 runners got hopelessly lost and the race was declared null and void. This was the fourth time the national had been held in Luton and the race was sponsored by Provincial Insurance Company. The course was 1 small lap and three large laps making a total of nine miles.
Likely contenders for the race were Dave Clarke (Hercules Wimbledon AC) he had an outstanding record in the national - one first and four seconds in his last five appearances, the 1985 winner Dave Lewis (Rossendale AC) had recovered from an ankle injury. Also back from injury Nick Rose (Bristol AC) was widely fancied to emerge as the winner. He triumphed when he last tackled the event in 1980 and he recently won the Midlands title. Other area champions were Geoff Turnball (Gateshead Harriers) - Northern winner and Richard Partridge held the Southern title. The Inter-Counties champion was Carl Thackery (Hallamshire Harriers). Others on good form were Welshman Roger Hackney (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC), Jonathon Richards (Cornwall AC) and Bingley Harriers' Steve Binns.
In the team race Gateshead Harriers' quest for their first "national" victory since 1979 had nine good runners in their team. Holders Tipton Harries had Tony Milovsorov, Andy Wilton, Eddie Wedderburn and John Wheway and also in with a medal shout were Aldershot, Farnham & District and Bristol AC.
When the race started to unwind up at the sharp end were Nick Rose, Barry Smith (Gateshead Harriers), Steve Binns, Geoff Turnbull, Richard Partridge and Dave Clarke. On the first large lap the mud and hills began to sort out the main contenders and Dave Clarke, Roger Hackney and Steve Binns formed a leading trio and as the race unfolded over the rest of the lap the leading three began to draw away.
During the second lap Hackney fell 5 metres behind Clarke and Binns, towards the end of the second lap Binns had opened up a ten metre lead on Clarke. Any hopes that Binns had of lifting the coveted Chesham Cup were crushed by Clarke on the last lap as he emerged with emerged with a 20 metre lead going on to win by 14 seconds in 47:04 from Binns with Hackney maintaining his third place for bronze. 2006 runners and 223 teams completed the course both records for the race.
London school teacher Dave Clarke said afterwards: "To win this you've really got to want to win, and I thought I had a good chance. It's difficult to justify flogging yourself over nine miles".