The fifty-ninth Senior Women's National Cross-Country Championships sponsored by Provincial Insurance Limited took place at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead. Wirral Athletic Club assisted with the hosting of the event. A shuttle service of buses conveyed competitors from Woodchurch Leisure Centre, the event headquarters, to and from the park. The 5,600-metre course was grassland and consisted of two laps.
One of the favourites and defending champion was Andrea Whitcombe (Parkside AC), winner of the Southern at Oxford and the Inter-Counties. Others in the hunt were Sarah Rowell (Leeds City AC), who was a surprise winner of the Northern Championships, at Guiseley. Lisa York (Leicester Coritanian AC) scored a convincing win in the Midlands championships, at Nottingham, and finished second in the Inter-Counties championships at Gateshead.
The Parkside club, from Harrow, were defending the senior team championship. Leicester Coritanian AC led by Lisa York were also strong contenders for the team title, Lesley Morton was not only be hoping to win, but also lead her Westbury Harriers team to success.
Warm sunshine greeted the competitors and spectators. Early leaders were Diane Edwards and Ann Williams (Sale Harriers) followed by Karen Whetton (Birchfield Harriers), Andrea Duke (Mandale AC), Lisa York, Karen Hutcheson (Parkside AC) and Lesley Morton led the chasing pack with Parkside trio Whitcombe, Alison Wyeth, and Sally-Ann Cox a few metres adrift.
Half-way around the first lap, when the runners faced an incline, Whitcombe, Wyeth, Duke and York raced to the top. Sally Ellis (Birchfield Harriers) moved into fifth place. Brenda Walker (Western AC), a mother of three from the Isle of Man, was sixth with Ann Williams, Lesley Morton and Lisa Hollick (Leicester Coritanian AC) in medal contention. By the start of the second lap Andrea Whitcombe was out in front after sharing the lead with Alison Wyeth for most of the first lap. Whitcombe surged further ahead to finish unchallenged, winning in a time of 19 mins 55 secs. Second was her clubmate Alison Wyeth with Sally Ellis in third. Andrea Whitcombe became the first women to defend her title for 19 years, Rita Ridley (Essex Ladies AC) being the last women to achieve the fete in 1971-2.
Whitcombe told Athletics Weekly "I kept plugging away, forced a gap and kept on going, I was not as comfortable as when winning a year ago."