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ULTRAMAG Editorial - December 2003Written by Kev Cassidy
It isn't often that any one individual can have such a huge influence on so many others. On Wednesday 12th November at the Colac Bowling Club, a very moving memorial ceremony was held in the honour of one such person. The sad loss of Cliff Young has been felt by all. It was only when so many people crowded into the hall that I realised how many people had been touched by Cliff during his lifetime. The press were there covering proceedings as we heard many speakers tell us of Cliff's life. His sister expanded on his earlier years before he found fame and his brother, Sid, captivated all with his lead singing in front of the Laver's Hill Choir. The highlight of the service was when Drew Kettle took the stage to read one of his poems about Cliff. Drew is a legend in his own right and now in his eighties. Suffering ill health, Drew read his poem to the silence of the crowd who gave him a standing ovation as he finished. Cliff was the unlikeliest of heroes. Hollywood could not have scripted a better story when he stunned the world by beating a world class field of runners in the inaugural Sydney to Melbourne race. Fame was thrust upon him. The press could not get enough of Cliff during those heady days. Cliff even made an appearance on the TV show "Prisoner' where he played the role of himself as he preached physical fitness to the likes of "Bea Smith and Lizzie Birdsworth". As Steve Monaghetti said, "He took Ultramarathons into lounge rooms across Australia".
The first 14 pages of this issue is a collection of tributes and memories of Cliff. As a result, a number of other articles have had to be held over [apologies to Brian Jackson!]. In the March issue, we have planned a special "Cliff Young " supplement which should run to about 20 pages. On an equally sad note, we have learnt of the death of Frank Pearson at age 84. Frank was a two time Sydney to Melbourne finisher in 1985-86.
The recent World Cup 100km in Taiwan was run in nightmare conditions. With a 64% drop out rate and very slow times by the top 10 finishers, it was obviously a tough day at the office. Our team managed two finishes with Mark Hutchinson and Tim Sloan surviving the hot humid weather.
At the recent Colac Six Day Race, the level of professionalism was noted by all. The highlight being the computer lap scoring system devised by Malcolm Mathews. Malcolm has been developing and refining his system for almost six years and he had several overseas runners declaring it to be the best system they had ever seen. Such things are a great boost for the sport.
On a different note. Did anyone pick the minor fault in the September issue? It appears that I gave Shirley Young's husband, Ron, a bit more credit than was due. I mentioned that he represented Australia at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. Ron assures me that although he was in the training squad, he narrowly missed team selection. Being the modest gentleman that he is, he wanted me to make a correction
Also, keep your eyes open for some good performances from Ernie Hartley. Ernie has been getting in a lot of extra training in recent times since losing his drivers license. I hear that Ernie hit 120kph on Doncaster Road one Sunday morning, much to the annoyance of the local constabulary!!