Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Farmer who Inspired the Whole Nation

This story was originally posted at: My Inspirational Quotes. I have also Googled and verified some of the things written on the story and had made slight changes to the original article.


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. Backed by big names in sports like Nike, these athletes are mostly less than 30 years old men and women equipped with the most expensive sponsored training outfits and shoes.

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.

As Cliff walked up to the table to take his number, it became obvious to everybody he was going to run. He was going to join a group of 150 world-class athletes and run! Most of the other runners did not even know who was Cliff Young.

Everybody thought that it was a crazy publicity stunt. But the press was curious, so as he took his number 64 and moved into the pack of runners in their special, expensive racing outfit, the camera focused on him and reporters started to ask:

"Who are you and what are you doing?"

"I'm Cliff Young. I'm from a large ranch where we run sheep outside of Melbourne."

They said, "You're really going to run in this race?"

"Yeah," Cliff nodded.

"Got any backers?"

"No."

"Then you can't run."

"Yeah I can." Cliff said. "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 -- until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler -- 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. I believe I can run this race; it's only two more days. Five days. I've run sheep for three."

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

Now, the 61-year-old potato farmer from Beech Forest with no teeth had started the ultra-tough race with world-class athletes. All over Australia, people who watched the live telecast kept on praying that someone would stop this crazy old man from running because everyone believed he’ll die even before even getting halfway across Sydney.

The inspiration continues ...
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