Roundhay Park in Leeds hosted the one hundred and third English Cross-Country Championships. A record number of finishers were expected, and Provincial Insurance Company continued their sponsorship of the race. The course was nine miles long and consisted of three laps plus the start and finish sections. This was the third time the National had been held at Roundhay Park, the two previous stagings being in 1978 and 1982.
Steve Tunstall (Preston Harriers) although not in the same form as the previous year was a man to watch and before the race said "I've had a bad start to the season; my body was worn down, I can tell you it's coming back . . . The course will probably suit me, but when you are fit, you can run through anything." Others expected to feature at the sharp end were Inter-Counties winner Brian Rushworth (Sunderland Harriers), Kevin Forster (Valli Harriers), Northern champion Martin McLoughlin (Liverpool Pembroke), Paul Taylor (Copeland AC), the inter-counties and Northern runner-up, and Richard Nerurkar (Bingley Harriers). Nerurkar, coached by Bruce Tulloh, already had two EuroCross wins in Margate and Hannut under his belt.
In the team race last year's winners Tipton Harriers had a solid squad and Wolverhampton and Bilston also had a good group. New boys from Tyneside - Valli Harriers formed by dissatisfied runners from Gateshead Harriers had six international runners and were looking to win a national title at their first attempt, but lack of support meant their sextet would have to perform well. "I think we've got an outside chance of winning, and we've got to go for it." said Valli chairman Lindsay Dunn "But to have that chance would involve everyone running to their potential."
The runners faced strong winds throughout the race but very little mud. After a mile the lead group consisted of Kevin Forster, Craig Mochrie (Leicester Coritanian AC), Paul Larkins (Wolverhampton & Bilston AC), Paul Taylor, John Sherban (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), Steve Tunstall and Nerurkar.
By the time the leaders had reached 'Hill 60' for the first time Larkins had dropped back to be replaced by Chris Robison (Omega RC). On the second lap, Nerurkar and Tunstall opened up a three-metre gap on Mochrie and Forster, with Taylor a further five metres back.
Towards the end of the second lap Nerurkar made his move and opened up a 50-metre gap on Tunstall, Taylor had moved into third ahead of Forster.
Over the last lap Nerurkar's extended his lead and by the lake, he was 110 metres clear of Tunstall, who still had 50 metres on Taylor. Nerurkar went on to win by 27 seconds in 44:56. Tunstall's chasing of Nerurkar began to tell and Taylor caught him at the bottom of 'Hill 60' and went on to claim the silver to Tunstall's bronze.
Nerurkar proclaimed after the race "I never thought, when I came here 12 years ago and saw Bernie Ford win the National, that I'd be back to win it. The priority all winter has been the World Championships, but as the winter's gone on, I'd had the National in mind, that was the hardest race all winter."
In the team race champions Tipton Harriers held a 23 point lead entering the last of the nine miles, however, the white vests of Valli Harriers snatched victory by a mere five points. Lindsay Dunn, Valli Harriers chairman, said "To win it at the first attempt is unbelievable! Whatever we do now, our name is on the trophy now. Gateshead are the only other North-East club who have achieved that. Every single one of them earned the trophy. When we needed vital points on the last lap, they all responded. But Tony Patterson was absolutely magnificent. He made up at least a dozen places." The counting six were Kevin Forster (4th), Geoff Turnbull (5th), Paul Cuskin (9th), Gary Nagel (43rd), Tony Patterson (62nd) and Tony Robinson (77th). Coventry Godiva Harriers picked up bronze medals.