Nearly 50 runners stand together at Victory Trailhead in Los Angeles waiting to take off on their morning run. A few of them compare how far they’ve come, from Arizona to New York. Others compare how long they’ve been running. Through it all, you can hear one name repeated again and again: Coach Jon.
His full name is Jon Sutherland, the 68-year-old star of the show who was about to embark on the three-mile run that would make him the first American to reach 50 consecutive years of running at least a mile every day. He began on May 26, 1969. At that time,“Get Back” by the Beatles was topping the charts.
That was during his college days, when he first found running. As a lifelong baseball player, he didn’t know about running until he met some guys on campus who showed him the ropes. When he decided he liked it better than the diamond, he looked for an out from his sport.
Sutherland found one, in the form of throwing a no-hitter. He decided that would be the end to his baseball career. He wasn’t planning to be done that day, but he wanted to go out on a high note.
“I said, ‘I’m done,’” Sutherland told Runner’s World. “‘I’m just going to run.”
His dad, who was at the game, signed the last baseball from the game, and left a note: “To Jon, now free to run.”