You never know where the next unlikely and impossible challenge may take you.
In Australia's 1983 ultra-marathon a most unlikely participant signed up for what others deemed would be an impossible situation.
Runners who commit to this particular ultra-marathon are taking on days and nights of steady running, jogging, and fast walking, with only a few hours of sleep. Much training and preparation is involved.
Australia hosts an annual ultra-marathon which is 875 kilometers or 543.7 miles in length. The runners begin in Westfield Sydney and finish in Melbourne. It is a grueling test of endurance as a runner.
Cliff Young, a farmer, was 61 years old when he decided to tackle his first ultra-marathon in 1983. While the professional runners arrived in their running gear, Cliff sported overalls and work boots and galoshes. Later, he wore runners.
The press, the runners, and the spectators expressed how he seemed like the most unlikely participant to take part in an ultra-marathon. Impossible? Did he really think that he could compete with all the trained athletes who knew that it could take days to complete this run? Five days was the ultimate goal.
Why would Cliff Young even decide to attempt this ultra-marathon?
He told the reporters and fellow runners that he believed that he could finish.
He explained that he was raised on a 2,000 acre sheep farm without a tractor or horses. When a storm was going to hit, the only way to gather all the sheep to safety was for him to run after them and sometimes it took three days to gather the 2,000 sheep. He always managed to get all the sheep to safety before the storm struck.
And they're off! At least all of the professional runners sped away from the starting line.
Not Cliff. He was left far behind.
Instead of a run or a jog, his gait was more of a shuffle. He kept going, despite the fact that he was far behind the other runners.
Night time came and Cliff kept going. To the surprise of everyone, he was still in the race on day two.
The director of the race, John Toleman, noted that Cliff's pattern of getting up earlier than the other runners and running longer was providing the gains which Cliff needed to potentially win the race.
On day three and four he kept running, during the day and running through most of the night. He snatched a small amount of sleep. Less than all the other runners and he kept going. He was gaining on the other runners.
On day five, the final day, Cliff Young crossed the finish line first.
He was 10 hours ahead of the second place runner.
It was a time for the unlikely to become likely and the impossible to become possible.
It was also a time for firsts.
- Cliff didn't know that there was a $10,000.00 prize for winning he only wanted to complete the run.
- He shared the prize money with the other runners and this created a feeling of compassion in them toward this humble man.
- He completed the race in record time: 5 days, 14 hours and 35 minutes.
- The way Cliff ran has been called, "The Young Shuffle" and is now considered to be the ultimate way to compete in an ultra-marathon because it helps the runner to conserve their energy.
- He covered 200 miles in the first two days and nights.
To Be Noted:
- Cliff was 30 years older than most of the runners.
- His main strategy was just to keep running day and night.
- He was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia because of his performance in the race.
- This unlikely individual whom people felt was attempting the impossible, won the hearts of everyone watching.
- Dentures rattle when you run, so Cliff tended to run without his teeth.
- This is a truly, inspiring life story about continuing on no matter what happens.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6 AKJV
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,
Life presents many challenges, some which may appear to be impossible and unlikely. Help me to keep going and to take my direction from You. Whether the situation changes or not. I thank you for being with me and I put my trust in You. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been through an impossible or unlikely situation? How did God help you through it?
Other By His Grace Posts:
A 5 km run? Me?
Mid March Grays and Jeremiah
When Success is Failure
A Post by David Kitz which ties in with Unlikely? Impossible?
A Bad Bet for Victory
To learn more about Cliff Young follow these links.
The Legend Of Cliff Young
Cliff Young the Farmer Who Out Ran the Field
Forever Young The Cliff Young Story
Ultra-Marathon Runner Cliff Young
The Book: Cliffy by Julietta Jameson