The one hundred and twenty sixth English National Cross-Country Championships took place at Herrington Park, Sunderland. This was the second time that the former colliery had hosted the race after a visit in 2007. English Cross-Country Association secretary Ian Byett told Athletics Weekly "The National is truly one of the greatest mass participation national championships in the world and anyone belonging to an affiliated English Club can enter. Over the years many star names have won the senior races but quite a few have tried but failed." The course was 12km and was three laps plus the start and finish straights.
Keith Gerrard (Newham & Essex Beagles AC) was defending his title and was expected to face a strong challenge from Northern Champion Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) who had an excellent record in the National. Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers) the Southern champion was an absentee.
In the team race the Northern champions Leeds City AC hoped to continue their recent success in the event and were expected to face opposition chiefly from Southern champions Bedford & County AC and Midlands title holders Notts. AC.
On the morning of the race a blizzard struck the north east of England and covered the course in snow, this made the course both wet and muddy. At the end of the first lap the lead group consisted of Vernon, Jonathan Taylor (Morpeth Harriers), Gerrard, Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harriers), Neilson Hall (Bedford & County AC) and James Wilkinson (Leeds City AC). By the end of the second lap Vernon, Gerrard and Hall formed a trio of runners battling for supremacy.
On the last Hall dropped back slightly and Vernon and Gerrard had a ding dong battle, with 400 metres to go Vernon took the lead only to find Gerrard surge past him with 200 metres to go. Gerrard went on to win by three seconds in 41:21. Vernon added to his haul of six individual National medals and Hall came through in third.
Gerrard told Athletics Weekly "When I won last year I don't think I had a spot of mud on me at the finish but today was easily the muddiest and also the toughest race of my life, Steve pushed me so hard, we were kicking the hell out of each other for 12km. There were a couple of times where I thought I might have it lost but I just managed to pull it out of the bag at the end."