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A Lesson From the Unstoppable Potato Farmer

by Dr. Denise Chranowski

I received this information about this amazing Australian runner – very inspiring story, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Cliff Young was an amazing person. In 1983 when he was 61 years old, Cliff showed up to compete in a 600 kilometer race between Sydney and Melbourne Australia. Far more grueling than a marathon, this five day racing event attracts only the best of the best, world class runners, the kind of athletes who know all there is to know about their sport and routinely break records to prove it.

Cliff Young was not that kind of athlete. In fact, he had never run in a race like this before and, to make matters worse, he showed up that day in 1983 wearing overalls and work boots covered by galoshes. No one considered him a runner – everyone considered him a joke.

When asked by the media what made him think he was qualified for such a race, and what he had done to condition himself for the run, Cliff answered honestly that he was a farmer, not an athlete. His personal trainers had not been professional running coaches who understood the sport, but rather the cows and pigs on his farm – chasing them on foot had gotten him in shape.

Cliff was a real oddity – not only was he too old and dressed inappropriately, he ran with a shuffle – he didn’t pick up his legs well, and as the race began, people along the sidelines yelled to get the old man off the track before he killed himself.

It was obvious that Cliff just didn’t know any better. Living in the outback where televisions and newspapers were still a rarity and before the Internet, Cliff was unaware of how such races are run – for example, that runners go for eighteen hours and then sleep for six to rest for the next day – Cliff didn’t realize it was impossible to do otherwise, and so, he just kept going. And going. And going.

Had Cliff finished the race in third or fourth, or even tenth place, his story would have been remarkable, especially since many of his opponents were a third his age. But he didn’t finish third or fourth – he finished first, stepping across the finish line far ahead of the second place runner, possibly because he wasn’t aware of all the "facts" that said he couldn’t. Cliff not only won the race, he cut a day and a half off the world record time!

It’s been more than twenty years since Cliff ran that record-breaking race. Every once in a while, when you’ve got a mind to do the impossible, think about Cliff and let his story motivate you into action.


Drs. Dane Donohue and Denise Chranowski are noted chiropractors who practice at their Bucks County Wellness Centre with offices in Langhorne and Washington Crossing and an affiliated 8 Weeks to Wellness® offices in Abington/In-Line Chiropractic. In their practices, the doctors focus on health not sickness and offer all the fundamental wellness therapies including chiropractic care. Phone: 215/752-1420 or 888-8WW-4-YOU - www.8ww.com

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