The Story of Cliff Young

Here is the story of a person who has achieved the unthinkable. His name was Cliff Young. The whole of Australia thought that he was a crazy man. Most feared that he would die trying. But this humble old man proved everyone wrong. Every year Australia hosts an 875km endurance Race from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered to be the world’s longest and toughest marathon. The participants are world class athletes who train specially for the event. Backed by big names like Nike and Adidas, these athletes are mostly young men and women with the most expensive and best sponsored outfits and shoes. In 1983, on the day of the race, a guy named Cliff Young showed up. Initially everyone thought that he was there to watch the event. As Cliff walked up to the table to take his number, it was obvious that he was going to run. He was going to join a group of 150 world class athletes and the surprising fact was his only trainer was his 81 year old mother. Everybody thought that it was a crazy publicity stunt.

The reporters asked “who are you, and where do you come from”. He said that “I m Cliff Young and I’m from Melbourne”. They asked” Are you really going to run in the race? Cliff said” Yes”, Got any backers? He said “No”. Then you can’t run. “Ya, I can”, See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or 4 wheel drives. Whenever storms would roll in, I would have to go out and round the sheep. We had 2000 sheep. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I would catch them all.

When the marathon started, Cliff Young didn’t even run correctly. All over Australia, people who watched the live telecast kept on praying, that someone would stop this crazy man from running. They believed that he will die even before getting halfway across Sydney. Every professional athlete knew that it takes 7 days to finish the race, and to complete, you would need to run 18 hours and sleep 6 hours. The thing is old Cliff Young didn’t know that. When the morning news was aired, there was another big surprise. Cliff Young was still in the race and had jogged the entire night. Cliff did not stop after the first day. Although he was far behind the world class athletes, he kept on running. He kept running. Every night he got just a bit closer to the leading pack. By the last night he passed all the world class athletes. By the last day he was in front of them. Not only he won the first place without dying, he broke the race record by 9hours. He became a national hero. The nation fell in love with the 61 year old farmer. He said when running throughout the race, he imagined that he was chasing the sheep to outrun the storm. Cliff refused to take the prize and divided into other 5 runners.

Cliff was a humble average man who became a national sensation. Later he ran to raise money for homeless children. He died at the age of 81. Now, for Sydney to Melbourne race, almost nobody sleeps. To win that race you have to run like Cliff Young did.

Learning:  What is the teaching from this humble man’s story? Is it courage or determination? That’s left to the readers.