Cliff Young (athlete)
|Born||Albert Ernest Clifford Young
8 February 1922
|Died||2 November 2003(aged 81)|
|Known for||Ultra Marathon winner at the age of 61|
Albert Ernest Clifford "Cliff" Young (8 February 1922 – 2 November 2003) was an Australian potato farmer and athlete from Beech Forest, Victoria, best known for his unexpected win of the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon at 61 years of age.
Born the eldest son of Mary and Albert Ernest Young on 8 February 1922, Albert Ernest Clifford Young grew up on a farm in Beech Forest in southwestern Victoria. The family farm was approximately 2000 acres in size with approximately 2,000 sheep. Young would round up the stock on foot, reckoning that it was the easiest method.
In late 1982, after training for months around the Otway Ranges, Young attempted to break Siggy Bauer's then world record for 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of 11 days and 23 hours. The attempt took place in Colac's Memorial Square. Young had to abandon the world-record attempt after 500 miles. Reflecting on the failed attempt, Young wrote that he and his support team were inexperienced and ill-prepared.
Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon
In 1983, the 61-year-old potato farmer won the first Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon (875 kilometres, 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. He ran at a slow loping pace and trailed the leaders for most of the first day, but by running while the others slept, he took the lead the first night and maintained it for the remainder of the race, eventually winning by ten hours.
Before running the race, he told the press that he had previously run for two to three days straight rounding up sheep in gumboots. He claimed afterwards that during the race, he imagined that he was running after sheep and trying to outrun a storm.
The Westfield run took him five days, 15 hours and four 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.
In 1997 at age 76, he made an attempt to beat Ron Grant's around Australia record and completed 6,520 kilometres of the 16,000-kilometre run, but he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. In 2000 he achieved a world age record in a six-day race in Victoria.
He was a vegetarian from 1973 until his death. He 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 wedding for the entertainment of shoppers. They divorced five years later. Renowned for his then ungainly running style, Young ran more than 20,000 kilometres during his competitive career. After five years of illness, he died of cancer at this home in Queensland on 2 November 2003, aged 81.
A memorial in the shape of a gumboot in Beech Forest is dedicated to Young and the Cliff Young Drive and Cliff Young Park there are named after him. In May 2013, ABC1 broadcast a telemovie about Young, starring Kevin Harrington.
The Young Shuffle
The "Young Shuffle" has been adopted by some 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. In 2010, comedian Hannah Gadsby named her Sydney Comedy Festival show "The Cliff Young Shuffle" in tribute.
- Young, A. E. C. (1995). Cliffy's Book. Dargo: High Country Publishing. ISBN 064623241 Check
- "End of the road for Cliff". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 3 November 2003.
- "Cliff Young – the farmer who inspired a nation"
- McGirr, Michael (8 November 2003). "Running the Good Race". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Jameson, Julietta (2013). Cliffy: The Cliff Young Story. Text Publishing. ISBN 9781922148094.
- "The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race". Elitefeet.com. 30 December 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Willis, Louise (3 November 2003). "Cliff Young dies aged 81". The World Today (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Jamieson, Tania (Winter 1997). "Interview with Cliff Young". New Vegetarian and Natural Health (coolrunning.com.au): 40. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
Media related to Cliff Young (athlete) at Wikimedia Commons