I'm a couple of years out, started in 95, in fact my first race was the Northern XC champs, bit of a shock to the system. Nearly came last! As Dustin says goody bags then were worth having unlike now. I also think the team spirit was better then. Now people run purely for themselves, not a bad thing just different to how it was. We were all quicker as well compared with todays runners at my club anyway. As a lady vet I could go sub 40 mins for 10k no problem, we've got maybe one lady now that can do that, none of the newer runners are anywhere near. I think running is more about enjoyment now which I don't object to. It's become more a sport for all.
When I ran it last year even though it was a very wet day I wore road shoes. There is quite a lot of hard packed trail so I would have suffered in fell shoes. The last 5/6 miles I maybe could have done with them but it's a lot drier this year so you should be fine in roadies. It's a great run, have a good one.