26 May 2011

The legendary Cliff Young

Every year, Australia hosts an 875-kilometer endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne -- considered to be the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathon. It’s a long, tough race that takes five days and normally participated by world-class athletes who train specially for the event...

In 1983, these top class runners were in for a surprise. On the day of the race, a guy named Cliff Young showed up. At first, no one cared about him since everybody thought he was there to watch the event. After all, he was 61 years old, showed up in overalls and galoshes over his work boots...

“See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up... whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 head, and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them..."

When the marathon started, the pros left Cliff behind... The crowds smiled because he didn’t even run correctly. Instead of running, he appeared to run leisurely, shuffling like an amateur...

Apparently, Cliff did not stop after the first day. Although he was still far behind the world-class athletes, he kept on running. He even had the time to wave to spectators who watched the event by the highways.

When he got to a town called Albury he was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. He said he would run through to the finish, and he did.

He kept running. Every night he got just a little bit closer to the leading pack. By the last night, he passed all of the world-class athletes. By the last day, he was way in front of them. Not only did he run the Melbourne to Sydney race at age 61, without dying; he won first place, breaking the race record by 9 hours and became a national hero!...
Further details at NewHeavenNewEarth.  There are also tribute pages at The Age and Ultra Legends.  Photo credit Sydney Morning Herald obituary notice ("Cliff is survived by his six brothers and sisters Anne, 85, Helen, 83, Margaret, 79, Barry 77, Eunice 75 and Sid 73.  "He is the first of us to go, but then he was always on the go," Mrs Simmonds said.")


  1. As a lifelong Sydney resident of 26 years, I had never heard of him.

    Neither had my 64 year old father, 56 year old mother, 33 year old brother or 31 year old sister.

    That is a travesty.

  2. Nor had i any idea that this race existed.

  3. really? You've never heard of him? I had, and I don't follow any sport much.

  4. Thanks for the link to Ultralegends, but please could you get the facts right on the 1983 race. He didnt show up in gumboots, he got the lead way before the last night. They are the main two! But otherwise, good job and thanks!

  5. Phil, the age.com.au says -
    "He gained a toehold in the Australian imagination when it was revealed that he ran in gumboots"

    The Ultra Legends site has a page on him entitled "From gumboots to glory" (but doesn't mention his wearing them), and Wikipedia says "Cliff arrived at the start line with overalls and gumboots."

    It may be that he showed up in gumboots and changed to running shoes for the event. I just don't have any sources that steer me to that conclusion. Any suggstions would be welcome.

  6. Hi my Friend,
    Yes I believe that he did run in gumboots, but that was around the farm, chasing the cows or picking the spuds. I think it was a byline that the press may have picked up and used to their advantage. No harm in that. Hence my byline in Ultralegends as well. The line in the Wikipedia article. I must have a look at that and address. You should have my email now, send me your address and I can send you a couple of DVD's with documentary's on Cliffy and the 83 Westfield. Nice to see the interest about Cliffy. But my friend, your article was one hundred percent better than the one quoted on Reddit!

  7. Phil, thank you for your offer, but I'm moving on to other things; I have thousands of links to review and post.

    Re my entry, I took the boldface off the phrase about showing up with galoshes over workboots, and removed the words "the pros left Cliff behind (in his galoshes)", replacing the galoshes reference with an elllipsis (...) I can't change the text too extensively because I'm quoting another source.

    Kudos to you for not only the Ultra Legends tribute, but for trying to clean up/correct the record at other places on the 'net.


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