The story of Cliff Young, a 61-year-old farmer who had entered a 500 mile race from Melbourne to Sydney. He was the oldest of 11 runners. Amidst ridicule, Cliff won the race and took two days off the record, then he shared his winnings with all the other runners! I used this as the base for my story, but almost everything else is pure imagination.
The race Cliff won was the inaugural (the very first!) Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon. Unfortunately, from information I've gleaned from the Internet, this race was only held from 1983 to 1991 and is no longer.
In stories, truth and imagination often mix. The truth is Cliff Young was a potato farmer and helped his brother raise cattle. I decided to make my character, Joshua, a sheep rancher because there are a lot of sheep ranchers in Australia and because I thought sheep would make good illustrations.
The Australian Information Service informed me that Cliff trained for the race by running in gumboots around the farm, herding cattle. He didn't run the actual race in gumboots and overalls, but I thought it made a good story!
Cliff Young is a folk hero in Australia and many stories, some true and some not true, are told about him.
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