The English National Cross-Country returned to Leeds for the fourth time but not at the usual venue of Roundhay Park as this was undergoing refurbishment but at Temple Newsam. The race was the one hundred and seventeenth running and was sponsored by Saucony. This was the first time the 1500-acre park had hosted the National. The 11.8km course consisted of farmland and parkland and included a few hills and comprised three laps.
2003 Inter-Counties champion Glynn Tromans (Coventry Godiva Harriers) was favourite to recapture the National title he won in 2000 at Stowe. The reigning champion Matt Smith (Tipton Harriers) was recovering from injury and although back in training wasn't considered fit enough to run and told Athletics Weekly: "On the day, I'll wish I was doing it and I'll keenly look at the results." Area championships were held by Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) - Northern, Rob Birchall (Notts. AC) - Midland and Huw Lobb (Bedford & County AC) - Southern.
In the team race Northern champions Leeds City AC were hoping to defend their title on home soil, Rob Birchall was hoping to lead Midland champions to National success and Newham & Essex Beagles AC were hoping to add to their Southern title.
On the day, the course had some particularly muddy sections, at the end of the first lap Glynn Tromans was living up to his tag of favourite as he established a 75-metre lead on 1998 champion Dominic Bannister (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) a further 100-metres adrift were Billy Farquharson (Mansfield Harriers) and Spencer Barden (Belgrave Harriers).
On the second lap Tromans continued to increase his lead, but on the third lap he stopped to retrieve one of his spikes. When he resumed his running the shoe still felt loose so when the shoe came off a second time Tromans continued without it.
Despite the setback Tromans went on to win by 21 seconds in 41:24, runner up was Farquharson who edged Bannister into third place by 2 seconds.
34-year-old Tromans told Athletics Weekly after the race: "It came off and I put it back on and it was obviously loose and it came off again about half a mile later and I thought I'm not bothering to stop a second time, I knew my gap was big enough and I didn't want to lose the rhythm. I didn't expect to lose today. I didn't want to waste too much energy on this race because I felt I could win it without having to force it." Farquharson said: "I came here and I thought, 'This isn't my kind of course'. But it just shows how well I'm going."