The ninth Women's National Cross-Country Championships took place at the Longbridge Works, Birmingham courtesy of the Austin Motor Company Ltd. The course of rough, hilly country was said to be around three miles but looking at the finish times it was estimated at 2¼ miles.
Five times winner and current holder Miss L. D. Styles of London Olympiades AC was hot favourite for the race and her clubmate Mrs. Esther Raven was also fancied.
In the team race last year's champions London Olympiades had a strong team and were expected to retain their title.
There was a surprise in the individual race, Miss Nellie Halstead (Radcliffe Harriers), the women's A.A.A. 200 metres track champion, winning the title at her first attempt leading from gun to tape and coming home in 15 minutes 40 seconds. Miss L. Styles (London Olympiades) was runner up 11 seconds behind, and Mrs. E. Raven (London Olympiades) filled third place a further 2 seconds back.
Miss Halstead, a mill girls from Bolton entered "just to keep my clubmates company, never dreaming of winning," won with some ease. The unusual feature of Miss Halstead's victory is that in the past she has confined herself only to sprinting, and actually trained only three weeks for the Cross-Country Championship. Mr. George French, the comedian and donor of the Team Shield, heartily congratulated Nellie on her success. "I am surprised," Nellie told him. " I have only been training for about three week-ends, and entered to make a team for my club, the Radcliffe Harriers."
Miss Halstead owes her amazing stamina to the fact that she likes at least ten hours' sleep a day. "Sometimes Nellie comes home from work about six, and is in bed and fast asleep at seven," said her sister Edith, who was also in the race. "She is a champion for sleep and believes in having a whole week-end in bed. Sleep and a strictly vegetarian diet are her secrets of success." Nellie, who entered the "national" only to make a team for her club, the Radcliffe Harriers, trains on whipped cream, fruit and milk puddings - as well as sleep.