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Cliff Young — the farmer who outran the field

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  • The story of a 61-year-old scrawny farmer who trained in galoshes chasing cows and won the 544-mile Sydney-to-Melbourne Ultra Marathon is preposterous and outlandish — and all true.

And after the second day of non-stop running, Young slept for an hour, got up and ran. By the third day, Young was plastered across newspaper front pages and cheering crowds urged him on as his lead grew bigger — and bigger. Race director John Toleman was starting to believe the potato farmer just might win the marathon. Toleman, in a Herald excerpt from a new book on Young: “… when he got to the front he ran like a scared rabbit. He didn’t want to stop. Everyone was going, ‘Oh, this old bloke’s just gotta blow up.’ He was just miles and miles in front — he covered 200 miles in the first 48 hours. And he did not want to stop.”

By the fourth day, Young had caught the attention of the international media and he didn’t disappoint. A day later, he crossed the finish line in first place, a full 10 hours ahead of the next competitor. He had literally made one of the greatest runs in history. According to the Australian: “In breasting the tape at Doncaster, in Melbourne's east, the sexagenarian had covered 875km in five days, 14 hours and 35 minutes — the equivalent of almost four marathons a day — shattering the previous race record by more than two days.”

Young took his $10,000 prize and doled it out to the other finishers, keeping none for himself.

He later faded from the media spotlight and died of cancer in 2003.  Cliff Young — a true legend.

 

See below for a video of Young:

 

Follow me on Twitter: @CBennett71 or email me: cbennett@farmpress.com

 

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