The one hundred and seventh English National Cross-Country Championships took place at Temple Park, South Shields. Mrs Vera Duerdin of Bury AC, the first president of the English Cross Country Association, welcomed the runners to the event saying "For over a hundred years The English National Cross Country Championships have been the ultimate in cross country running with the winners receiving just accolade all over the world. Cross Country running, however, is not just about the first one to finish, every finisher today will in his own way be a winner - no doubt having achieved some personal ambition be it scoring in his club's team, beating his own previous best performance or even just "finishing in the National". Jim Alder president of the North-Eastern Counties Cross Country Association in its centenary year said "To have the nationals on my doorstep in the year of my NECCCA presidency is something I regard as very special. We have carved out a great reputation in the North-East and I'm confident that South Shields will add to that."
The course was 15km in length and covered three laps of the park.
Dave Lewis (Rossendale AC) and John Downes (London Irish AC) were considered the men most likely to win. Southern champion Downes, fifth in last year's race was in good form said: "I'm not going there to jog it, I'm going there to win. Ever since I came back from America my aim has been to win the National." Downes had packed up his building job the year before to concentrate on running. Kevin Lamb (Tipton Harriers) the Midland champion was also expected to feature in the medals as was Midland runner-up Steffan White (Coventry Godiva Harriers), last year's National junior winner. Inter-Counties champion Andrew Pearson (Longwood Harriers) was not in action after twisting his ankle in training. Richard Nerurkar (Bingley Harriers) had been hoping to chase his fourth National title but missed the race with a trapped nerve.
In the team event local boys Morpeth Harriers were hoping to add the title to their two successive National Cross-Country Relay victories. Tipton Harriers stalwart Ron Bentley was course-side for his 43rd consecutive English cross country championship hoping Tipton would add to their unique collection of medals. Bentley said: "Bingley must be favourites while Blackheath and Shaftesbury Barnet are up-and-coming, but I certainly think we can win a medal at least." Tipton have dominated the championship in the past 20 years, failing only four times to be amongst the medals.
Rain started to fall as the starter's pistol fired and after the race settled down half way through the first lap, the first to show were Chris Robison (Omega RC), Lewis, Glynn Tromans (Coventry Godiva Harriers), John Nuttall (Preston Harriers) and local runner Ian Archbold (Morpeth Harriers).
A second group consisted of Adrian Passey (Bromsgrove & Redditch AC), Mark Hudspith (Morpeth Harriers) and Steffan White (Coventry Godiva Harriers). At the start of the second lap Lewis had edged in front with Kevin Lamb, Colin Moore (Bingley Harriers) and Larry Matthews (Salford Harriers) in hot pursuit. By the end of the second lap Lewis and John Nuttall (Preston Harriers) had pulled clear with the chasing pack consisting of Tromans, Mark Hudspith, Andy Leach (Bingley Harriers) and John Downes. Halfway into the second lap the lead for Lewis and Nuttall was 60 metres over Tromans, with Mark Hudspith, Chris Robison and Noel Berkley (London Irish AC) all in medal contention. Into the final lap four appeared to be chasing bronze John Downes, Keith Anderson (Bingley Harriers), Robison, and Tromans. With a mile to go Lewis had a gap of 25 metres over Nuttall and went on to win by 16 seconds in 42:35. Nuttall picked up a silver medal despite two months out with a stress fracture and only his second competitive race that year.
Downes came in for bronze despite suffering a stitch and said "I had a stitch from the word go. I've never felt like that since I was young. I had a sandwich at 9.30am, and a bite of a sandwich 12.30pm. I think that's what must have done it."
After the race 32-year-old Dave Lewis said "I was pretty confident, although I wasn't sure about my fitness after my food poisoning. I thought I'd struggle at the start - I thought food poisoning would hit me in the first quarter-of-a-mile or so - but I had a great start and got right up there. John was so good. He looked really bouncy; he's obviously very fit, and he looked like he'd got a lot of track speed in his legs. I knew the only way I was going to beat him was from a long way out. I knew if I didn't then coming into the last mile I was going to have a real problem. So the aim was to get rid of him with three or four miles to go, and go even if it meant really killing myself. I had to drop him and that's why I made a long run for home. In the last mile I had nothing left, and I think if he'd drawn level with me there's nothing I could have done about it." Lewis's coach Norman Poole encouraged him to run and pull out if he felt unwell. This was Lewis's third National triumph after wins in 1985 (Milton Keynes) and 1989 (Epsom).