California Cross Country Coach Breaks U.S. Running Streak Record

This, or at least a version of it, has been Jon Sutherland's view every day for 45 years. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Jon Sutherland reaches 16,438 days with Tuesday’s 3-mile run.

What have you been doing for the last, oh, 45 years?

If you’re Jon Sutherland, you’ve been running. Every day.

As of Tuesday, May 27, Sutherland had been running at least a mile daily for 16,438 days—a new U.S. record. A 3-mile run through Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park in Los Angeles sealed the deal.

The streak first started on May 26, 1969. Sutherland had only been running for about a year and was coming off an injury.

“Missed two months. Couldn’t run a step,” Sutherland told NPR. “And I just remember saying a little prayer—‘Lord, if you let me run, I’ll run every day the rest [of] my life.’ And I didn’t really know what I was saying. I just said that. And then I started running and I got back into it.

“About three months later, one of my teammates, Mark Covert—he told me that he’d run every day for a year. I said, ‘Wow, I’m going to try that.’ And then it just grew from there. And since then, I haven’t missed a day.”

Covert, you may remember, ended his running streak at 45 years last summer.

Sutherland said the streak isn’t as big a deal as people have made it out to be. His mileage total thus far is 190,715 miles, at least through Tuesday’s run.

“There’s a lot of people that have run more miles me,” he said. “Probably 40 or 50 in the world. But I’m proud of what I’ve done.”

During the course of the streak, which Sutherland has vowed to continue, he has broken 10 bones and has undergone two knee surgeries. How—and why—did he keep running through those setbacks?

“When you do it when you shouldn’t, that’s vanity. And that’s the crazy part that we do,” Sutherland said. “But to keep the streak alive. I mean, there was one period where I ran the same 2-mile course for like a hundred days in a row because it was all I could do. And I was too embarrassed to go out on the streets and limp around, so I just did it where nobody could see me.

“I was like an animal that was hurt. I wanted to hide. But I wanted to run. And you just really miss it, you know. You miss the sweating and the wind blowing through your hair and, you know, the movement and just the exercise. You really miss it. It really is a physical addiction.”

Sutherland added that he has never considered ending the streak. So what’s next for the high school cross country coach?

“I want to run as long as I can,” he said. “I don’t see any stop sign, so why should I stop?”

For More: NPR

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