The 544 miles from Sydney to Melbourne is the distance of the 1983 Australian Ultramarathon. Five days separate the start and finish. Therefore, world famous athletes, who have been trained for years, usually take part in such races. They are usually under 30 years old. These athletes are sponsored by big brands who give them their uniforms and sneakers.
Imagine everyone's astonishment when they saw 61-year-old Cliff Young at the start of the Ultramarathon. He looked like a casual spectator because he wasn't wearing a sports uniform, just work overalls and gumboots.
And then this "spectator" came to the table to get his number for the marathon. That's when everyone realized that the man was going to take part in the race.
Cliff was given his number and headed to the starting line. Just before the start the camera crew were able to interview the unusual participant.
- Good morning, tell us who you are and what you're doing here.
- My name is Cliff Young. I'm a farmer.
- Have you actually decided to run the marathon?
- Yes, I am.
- Where are your sponsors?
- I don't have any.
- And are you sure you can at least finish it?
- Of course I am. I've been working on a farm since I was a kid. And we never had a car. Only four years ago I was able to buy one. If there was a storm coming, I always rounded up the flock of 2,000 sheep walking around our 2,000-acre farm. Sometimes it would take me 2 or 3 days at a time to catch them all. It's not easy, so I'm sure I'll finish the marathon.
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When the race started, Cliff, wearing his work boots, was noticeably behind the professionals. As you can imagine, everyone laughed at him, even felt pity, because the poor runner could not even start normally. Many onlookers were worried about the man and prayed he would not die during the marathon.
All professional athletes knew that the distance took about 5 days, i.e. you have to run about 18 hours and sleep another 6 hours. Only Cliff didn't know that.
On the morning of the second day it became known that Cliff had stayed up all night and continued to run. But even then he couldn't catch up with the athletes.
However, with each night he approached them, overtaking all the world champions in the very last night. The farmer not only completed the 5-day marathon at the age of 61, but also finished first, beating the record by 9 hours!
Of course, after the victory Cliff became a national hero. And he never ceased to amaze.
The farmer turned down his valuable prize. When he was given A$10,000, Young said he had no idea there was a reward. On saying "I didn't participate for the money," he divided his prize among the other runners, A$2,000 each. Cliff didn't take a single cent for himself, which made the entire continent fall in love with him.
And the trained athletes learned entire techniques to properly tackle long distances. They knew how to run and how long to sleep. Especially they had no doubt that the 61-year-old man was incapable of running for five days. Only Cliff Young alone didn't know all that. It certainly sounds ridiculous, but he had no idea that athletes were allowed to sleep during the marathon.
There were no limits in his mind. That was the secret of his victory. The farmer simply wanted to win. He imagined that a sheep was running ahead of him, and he thought of nothing but to catch up with it.
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