Cliff Young (athlete)

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Cliff Young

Cliff Young (1922 — 2 November 2003[1]) was an Australian potato farmer[1] and athlete from Beech Forest, Victoria, best noted for his unexpected Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon win at 61 years of age.


[edit] Early life

Young grew up on a farm outside of Melbourne with about 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) and about 2,000 sheep. The farm, however, did not have any horses or four-wheelers, so whenever storms were coming through, Young would play sheep dog and round up the sheep.

In 1982, after training for months around the Otway Ranges, Young attempted to run 1,600 kilometers around Colac's Memorial Square.

[edit] Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon

In 1983, the 61-year-old potato farmer won the first Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon (875 kilometers, 544 miles). The race was run between what were then Australia's two largest shopping centres: Westfield Parramatta, in Sydney, and Westfield Doncaster, in Melbourne.[2] Cliff arrived at the start line with overalls and gumboots. He ran at a slow loping pace and trailed the leaders for most of the course, but by denying himself sleep and running while the others slept he slowly gained on them and eventually won by a large margin.

Before running the race he told the press that he had previously run for two to three days straight rounding up sheep. He claimed afterwards that during the race he imagined that he was running after sheep and trying to outrun a storm.

He became very popular after this tortoise and the hare feat, so much so that in Colac, Victoria, the Cliff Young Australian Six-Day Race was established that same year.

[edit] Records

The Westfield run took him five days, 15 hours and a few minutes, trimming almost two days off the record for any previous run between Sydney and Melbourne. All of the six competitors who finished the race broke the previous record, but Young beat them by running while they were sleeping.[2]

In 1997 at age 75, he made an attempt to beat Ron Grant's around Australia record and completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run, but he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. [3] In 2000 he achieved a world age record in a six-day race in Victoria.[4]

[edit] Personal life

He was a vegetarian since 1973. Young lived at home with his mother and brother Sid. After the race, at 62, Young married Mary Howell, 39 years his junior. The race sponsor, Westfield hosted the occasion for the benefit of shoppers.[2] They divorced five years later.[4]

Renowned for his then ungainly running style, Young ran more than 20,000 kilometres during his competitive career.[4] After five years of illness, Cliff Young died of cancer, at 5:21 PM on Sunday, 2 November 2003[1] at the age of 81.

[edit] The Young-Shuffle

The "Young shuffle" has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it expends less energy. At least three winners of the Sydney to Melbourne race have been known to use the "Young shuffle" to win the race.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

NAME Cliff Young
DATE OF DEATH 2 November 2003
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