Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

61-year-old Sheep Herder Wins the Australian Ultramarathon

In 1983, Australia hosted its ultramarathon, a 573.7 mile foot race from Sydney to Melbourne. This is a race that takes days to run, and professionals from all over the world came to participate. Shortly before the race began, a 61-year-old farmer named Cliff Young, wearing overalls and goulashes over his boots, walked up to the registration table and requested a number to enter the race. The people at the registration table thought it was a joke—that somebody was setting them up—so they laughed. But Cliff Young said, "No, I'd really like to run." So they gave him a number and pinned it on his old overalls.

Cliff Young walked over to the start of the race. All the other professional runners, who were decked out in all their running regalia, looked at him like he was crazy. The crowd snickered. They laughed even more when the gun went off and the race began, because all those professional runners had sculpted bodies and beautiful strides, but not Cliff Young. He didn't even run like a runner. Cliff Young ran with an awkward, goofy-looking shuffle. All through the crowd people were laughing, and finally, someone called out, "Get that old fool off the track!"

Five days, 14 hours, and four minutes later, at 1:25 in the morning, Cliff Young shuffled across the finish line of the 573.7 mile ultramarathon. He had won the race. And he didn't win by a matter of minutes or even an hour or two. The second place runner was nine hours and 56 minutes behind him. Cliff Young had set a new world record for the ultramarathon. The press mobbed him wondering what kind of special running shoes he must have had, and they rummaged through his backpack wondering what he'd survived on—he'd lived primarily on pumpkin seeds and water—and then they discovered the secret to his success: Cliff Young had shuffled his way to victory without ever sleeping. The other runners would run for 18 hours straight, and then stop and sleep for three or four hours. He endured running five days, 14 hours, and four minutes at the age of 61.

Related Sermon Illustrations

The World's Hardest Race

None of the 40 runners who attempted to finish the 100-mile Barkley Marathons in the mountains of eastern Tennessee completed the race, the first time since 2007 that the endurance ...

[Read More]

The Danger of Checkpoint 24

Each year about four dozen athletes gather in Minnesota for the St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra. Runners spend good money to embark on a 40-mile ultra-marathon, at night, in January, in ...

[Read More]