The English Cross-Country Championships returned to the showgrounds at Newark for the fourth time after visits in 1984, 1988 and 1992. This was the one hundred and ninth running of the event.
Eamonn Martin (Basildon AAC) had won the 'National' last time the race was held as Newark in 1992 and was hoping for a repeat of his successful run. Likewise last year's runner up Andrew Pearson (Longwood Harriers) who won the Junior title in 1992 at Newark. Pearson had to recover from the UK Trial in which he raced six days earlier. Spencer Duval (Cannock & Stafford AC) was unable to defend his title after suffering with an Achilles injury. Inter-Counties' champion John Downes (London Irish AC) was expected to feature as were Midland's champion Steffan White (Coventry Godiva Harriers) and Tim Dickinson (Blackheath Harriers) - Southern title holder.
Blackheath Harriers had won the team event in 1994 and 1995 were still a force to be reckoned with despite some injuries. Bingley Harriers team manager Peter Moon said "Last year Blackheath were unbeatable on the country and they'll be there again. You don't like to give up your title." Bingley were without three-times individual champion Richard Nerurkar. Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, Morpeth Harriers and Tipton Harriers (Midland Champions) were also likely to be in the mix.
The starter set the field of nearly 2,000 runners on their way. At the end of the first lap Andrew Pearson had broken away with a chasing pack including Dominic Bannister (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), John Nuttall (Preston Harriers), John Sherban (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), Martin Jones (Horwich RMI Harriers) and Mick Hawkins (Bingley Harriers). Pearson, being chased primarily by Nuttall and Sherban, still led going into the third lap and looked set for victory, however, a severe stich caused him to retire with just a kilometre to go. Despite gamely continuing Pearson was overtaken by Nuttall and Sherban before stepping off the circuit. 24-year-old Pearson said : "I felt strong early on but then I got a whacking stitch, it was killing me, so I decided to save it for the Worlds. "I drank some Maxim beforehand and I think it was too soon before the race."
Nuttall overcame the challenge of Sherban to win by 20 seconds in 40:35. The bronze medal went to Dominic Bannister who said : "It was hard work and the course was tougher than I expected. "I hoped for a medal after my second place in the Inter-Counties. I've been sensible and not raced too much this winter, I've not been going abroad a lot."
After the race John Nuttall said "I always like to do the National so it means a lot to win, it's always been an ambition. Second and third are not positions to come in this race. "I only decided a few days ago to run and I didn't ease down, I still ran 100 miles this week. "When Andrew got about 70 yards clear after 15 minutes of running, I thought he'd gone. But I got up there and had a go. He came with me but when I put my attack in I got away straight away. "I'd been holding back because I felt so good in the second half."