Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cliff Young: Pioneer of the ultra shuffle

While traveling in Australia, I had the privilege of viewing a rewarding television reenactment on ABC1 (similar to U.S. PBS programming).

The special paid tribute to Cliff Young, who at 61, entered the 1983 Sydney to Melbourne ultra run. This event covered 875-kilometers (544 miles). The five-day event was regarded as one of the toughest in the world.

Here's where it gets interesting. Young was a struggling potato farmer who trained in high-top gum boots, had no professional or corporate support, and had not finished any ultramarathon events. He was mocked and ridiculed prior to the start.

He came, he ran, he kicked ass and won. And after he won, he took his $10,000 prize and gave all of it back to the other competitors. Young became an Australian national hero. His name is still recognized today.

The telling of this tale was rather emotional for me, as Cliff is the pioneer of the ultra shuffle. Anyone who has seen my YouTube video "Most Efficient Running Technique" understands that the shuffle has been the bedrock of my 25-year ultra career. All praise and credit for the development of this energy-retaining running style goes to Cliff.

Most of us enjoy the "underdog wins" plot in books and movies. In my mind, there is none better than the retelling of the Cliff Young saga.

Hope you enjoy the videos below. The first is a promo for the ABC1 special; the second is a news segment from the actual race in 1983.

Cliff Young passed away in 2003. I respect this man and his memory.  Cliffy, you ruled.

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