On the occasion of the one hundred and twenty fifth running of the English National Cross-Country Championships at Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath the English Cross-Country Association invited a number of former winners to watch the event. The guests included winners both past and present, Frank Sando the senior men's winner in 1957 was present. This was the twelfth time Parliament Hill Fields had hosted the event.
As the London Olympics were due to take place in 2012 the ECCA decided that Parliament Hill Fields would be an appropriate venue for the event and ECCA secretary Ian Byett said: The City of London were keen to put it on and the staff and management at Parliament Hill always give tip-top cooperation in staging the event."
All finishers received a commemorative pin badge to celebrate the 125th running of the men's race.
The course was three laps plus the start and finish straights and was 12km in length.
Northern champion and 2011 winner Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) was back to defend the title he won at Alton Towers and expectations were that he would be challenged by 2007 and 2009 winner Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers) and his younger brother, the Southern champion, Ben (Wells City Harriers). James Walsh (Leeds City AC) who was the Midlands title holder was also likely to feature for National honours.
In the team race Southern winners Highgate Harriers and runners-up Bedford & County AC were expected to contend for podium places as were Midlands winners Notts. AC and runners-up Tipton Harriers. The Northern challenge was likely to come from last year's winners Leeds City AC.
The race took place under blue skies and the temperature was warm for the time of year. Ralph Street (Ranelagh Harriers) was the first to show at the top of Kite Hill. On the first lap the lead group consisted of five runners, namely Keith Gerrard (Newham & Essex Beagles AC), Steve Vernon, John Beattie (Newham & Essex Beagles AC), James Wilkinson (Leeds City AC) and Frank Tickner. By halfway around the second lap Tickner had dropped off a little and was joined by James Walsh. As the second lap unfolded Gerrard began to moved away from the rest.
Gerrard won by 11 seconds in 35.56, with Vernon winning silver and Beattie bronze. Tickner came through for fourth edging Wilkinson into fifth.
25-year-old Gerrard, the Junior race winner in 2005, told Jason Henderson at Athletics Weekly: "I'm so proud, it's special, as the race carries so much history. I glanced around in the early stages and everyone who I expected to be there was there. But I thought 'I'm in it to win'. It was not a given, though, and I had to run really hard to do it. I didn't really put in a surge, the others just fell away. Then, when I was dropping downhill at the end, I knew it was safe, but I wasn't totally relaxed and there definitely wasn't any showboating. I kept it going til the end, just in case anyone came back at me."