AN AMAZING FACT: In 1983, a 61-year-old sheep farmer named Cliff Young decided to participate in the world’s toughest race, a 544-mile ultra-marathon from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia. When the 150 world-class athletes gathered at the starting line they were amused to see old Cliff enter the race wearing overalls with galoshes over his work boots.
As soon as the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff shuffling behind. Spectators were hoping someone would stop the crazy old man before he hurt himself, but he kept plodding along. Normally the contenders run about 18 hours and sleep 6 hours during the seven-day race. But no one told Cliff he was supposed to sleep! So while the other runners slept he kept running, gaining on the pack a little more each day. By the last night, he passed all of the world-class athletes. By the last day, he was way in front of them. Incredibly, not only did Cliff run the Melbourne to Sydney race at age 61 without dying, he won first place, breaking the race record by 9 hours and becoming a national hero!
When asked how he could run all night, Cliff said. “See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses, and whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out on foot and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 head, and sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days nonstop.” Throughout the race, he just imagined he was chasing sheep. When Cliff was awarded the first prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted they split it among the other lead runners. The nation fell in love with the 61-year-old vegetarian who came out of nowhere to defeat the world’s best long-distance runners.
Cliff Young, because of his upbringing, had incredible endurance. The Bible says we also must have endurance for “the race that is set before us.” But where do we get the strength and stamina we need? The Psalms tell us that God is “He who gives strength and power to His people,” and “It is God who arms me with strength” (Psalm 68:35; 18:32). The strength and endurance we need come only from Him.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1