The one hundred and eleventh English Cross-Country Championships took place at Roundhay Park in Leeds. This was the fourth time the event had been hosted at Roundhay Park after visits in 1978, 1982 and 1990. Race highlights were shown the following day on Sky Sports. The race was sponsored by the sportswear company View From.
Steffan White (Coventry Godiva Harriers) was unable to defend his title as he was suffering from a knee injury. The Midlands champion Spencer Duvall (Cannock & Stafford AC) who had two 'National' titles to his credit with a win in the Juniors in 1990 (at Roundhay Park) and the Seniors in 1995 said before the race "I want to win the National three times." Dave Buzza (Cornwall AC) was the Southern champion and the Northern title resided with Dave Tune (Rotherham Harriers), the inter-counties champion was Keith Cullen (Chelmsford AC).
Bingley Harriers and Tipton Harriers were expected to continue their domination of the team race having won the title between them in six of the previous nine years.
The weather was exceptionally warm for the time of year when the race started. Bannister, Duval, Justin Pugsley (Birchfield Harriers), Barry Royden (Medway AC) and Morpeth Harriers' Hudspith brothers, Mark and Ian were in the lead group on the first lap.
On the second lap, Duval slipped out of contention after being badly spiked and eventually dropped out. Bannister started to open a gap with Royden in second place, by the end of the lap, Bannister had a 50 metres lead. Royden had a similar gap on Mark Hudspith, who was 15m ahead of Pugsley.
Bannister increased his lead on the last lap and went on to win by 29 seconds, Royden won the silver and said: "I've always wanted to win a National medal. It's the tradition." The battle for the bronze medal unfolded on Hill 60. At the bottom Mark Hudsmith was a few paces ahead of Pugsley but the Birchfield Harrier battled up the hill and took third by 4 seconds.
After the race Bannister said "You've got to learn to win races. You have to take the initiative, and it's hard when you're out in front."