I would like to introduce the PerformOne Community to my friend Jim Schnorrenberg. Please check out his blog at: http://wp.me/pXJCk-72. High achievers are people just like you and me… Read Jim’s blog message below and learn 5 important lessons or check out his new book: “Couples in the Bible: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Evil”
A True Story About An Ordinary Guy
by Jim Schnorrenberg
His name was Cliff Young. He was a shepherd and a potato farmer, who lived in Australia. In 1983, at the age of 61, he won an ultra-marathon race in Australia, in a race that was 544 miles in length, and took over five days to complete. An ultra-marathon is one of the most grueling of athletic competitions. He also raced against an elite field of runners who were half his age. He showed up wearing overalls and gumboots, and raced in an awkward, goofy-looking shuffle. The press and other athletes just laughed at Cliff and said – “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”
All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. To compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that! When the morning of the second day came, not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.
Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping. (He did actually rest for a couple of hours each day, but that was all.)
While others ran and slept, Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer those in the lead. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. Five days, 14 hours and 4 minutes later, he was the first competitor to cross the finish line, 10 hours ahead of the closest runner. He had won the race and set a new course record.
When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to the other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.
Cliff Young continued to run for the rest of his life. He continued to donate his winnings to others and ran to raise money to help charities, like homeless children. He eventually died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 81, soon after a final race.
I love this story. Here are some lessons that stand out for me:
• Don’t let age, young or old, stop you. I seem to recall another story in the Bible about a shepherd who, in this case, was young and small, yet killed a giant. David, the shepherd who became the greatest King of Israel, had, like Cliff, trained with the sheep and knew how to fight off lions and bears and win.
• This is also a story of commitment. I can’t imagine staying up all night for even one night, much less running all night, for five nights. Here is a quote from Cliff – “I like to finish what I start doing. I like to see it through to the end, to the best of my ability.” Commitment gives you focus and endurance.
• This is also a story of looking forward. Cliff won by staying focused and running ahead to the goal. We don’t win by looking back. Jesus said that if we put our hand to the plow and look back, we’re not fit for service in the kingdom of God.
• You gotta be yourself. Through every-day experience, Cliff found a running technique that worked. It was unorthodox. It looked funny. But it worked. Today, ultra-marathoners use this same shuffle run because it is more energy efficient than conventional running. Going back to that other shepherd in the Bible, David used an unorthodox style (sling and rocks) to kill a giant. They tried to fit David with the latest armor and shield, but it was just too heavy.
• Finally. Don’t worry about what others are saying about you. Just run.
The race doesn’t go to the swift, but to the faithful. Run your race. Don’t ever quit.
Hope you enjoyed Jim’s post!