A potato farmer, Cliff Young took part in a Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon race in 1983. Coached by his mother who’s 81 during the time, Cliff Young started the marathon with work boots and galoshes overalls.
Competing against world-class marathon runners who were backed up by big sports companies and had hundreds of hours preparing for the race, Cliff Young’s informal training regime consists in running for his sheep. He told the organizers that if he can run after his sheep for a few days, he could surely compete with other runners.
The ultra marathon normally took 5 days to complete and this potato farmer’s decision seemed suicidal. In fact, some tried to stop him from running the super-difficult race because they though Cliff Young could die due to the heat and fatigue. After all, he’s 61 years old!
To cut the story short, Cliff Young managed to finish the race. While the young racers sleep, he continued the race throughout the night. The young athletes left him far behind until the very last night where he eventually lead the marathon.
Not only Cliff Young, a 61-year-old potato farmer survived the race; he even managed to win the marathon and actually broke the race record by 9 hours! He even gave away his prize money to the rest of the runners after him.
After the win, he continued to run in many ultra-marathon races and has even sets standards in the world of endurance racing. His running style – dubbed “The Cliff Shuffle” is a famous running technique adopted by many runners in the world today.
Cliff Young showed that being old is not a barrier. And being a champion doesn’t mean you need have super-human strength, just super-human wills.