The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race

The legendary story of Cliff Younger is already recognized to many runners. In case you aren’t accustomed to it, you’re in for an interesting learn.

An Unlikely Competitor

Yearly, Australia hosts 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It’s thought of among the many world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes 5 days to finish and is generally solely tried by world-class athletes who practice specifically for the occasion. These athletes are sometimes lower than 30 years outdated and backed by giant corporations comparable to Nike.

In 1983, a person named Cliff Younger confirmed up in the beginning of this race. Cliff was 61 years outdated and wore overalls and work boots. To everybody’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race quantity and joined the opposite runners.

The press and different athletes turned curious and questioned Cliff. They informed him, “You’re loopy, there’s no approach you possibly can end this race.” To which he replied, “Sure I can. See, I grew up on a farm the place we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the entire time I used to be rising up, at any time when the storms would roll in, I’d should exit and spherical up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Generally I must run these sheep for 2 or three days. It took a very long time, however I’d all the time catch them. I imagine I can run this race.”

When the race began, the professionals rapidly left Cliff behind. The crowds and tv viewers have been entertained as a result of Cliff didn’t even run correctly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the outdated farmer’s security.

The Tortoise and the Hare

The entire skilled athletes knew that it took about 5 days to complete the race. To be able to compete, one needed to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The factor is, Cliff Younger didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day got here, everybody was in for an additional shock. Not solely was Cliff nonetheless within the race, he had continued jogging all night time.


Finally Cliff was requested about his techniques for the remainder of the race. To everybody’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight by to the end with out sleeping.

Cliff stored operating. Every night time he got here a little bit nearer to the main pack. By the ultimate night time, he had surpassed all the younger, world-class athletes. He was the primary competitor to cross the end line and he set a brand new course report.

When Cliff was awarded the profitable prize of $10,000, he stated he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he didn’t enter for the cash. He ended up giving all of his winnings to a number of different runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.

Continued Inspiration

Within the following 12 months, Cliff entered the identical race and took seventh place. Not even a displaced hip through the race stopped him.

Cliff got here to prominence once more in 1997, aged 76, when he tried to boost cash for homeless youngsters by operating round Australia’s border. He accomplished 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run earlier than he needed to pull out as a result of his solely crew member turned in poor health. Cliff Younger handed away in 2003 at age 81.

At the moment, the “Younger-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners as a result of it’s thought of extra energy-efficient. A minimum of three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Moreover, through the Sydney to Melbourne race, trendy rivals don’t sleep. Profitable the race requires runners to go all night time in addition to all day, similar to Cliff Younger.

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