PROFILE: Jon Sutherland has run every day for the last 50 years

Sutherland began his serious running at
Cal State University Northridge,
and set six track records there.
(5-2019) On Sunday morning in West Hills, CA, Jon Sutherland will celebrate his 50th year of running every single day. In fact, he's done way better than that, averaging 10 miles a day through the duration of his streak. According to Streak Runners International, his streak is now the longest in the world, and the second-longest ever, after only Ron Hill's 52+ years (19,032 days). On Sunday, Sutherland, 68, will hit 18,263 days in a row. People told him he was crazy to undertake his running streak. To which Sutherland responds, "I've never been happier than I am now because I trusted my instincts and my heart!" (If you live nearby, you can join the run and celebration of Sutherland's achievement at the Victory Trail Head in West Hills.)

Career-profession? I spent most of my career in the music business which is toxic to distance running. I was probably the top heavy-metal journalist in the U.S. for a decade. I've been to more than one thousand rock concerts, including 179 in 1991 alone. People ask what I did in the music business, and I say, "Everything except for making money and doing drugs."

When and why did you start running? I was a baseball pitcher with a nasty curve ball! And I thought running would help my ambition to last longer on the mound. I started running 2-3 miles a day the summer of 1969, and then in September I met Laszlo Tabori and Mark Covert, and I went to 100 miles a week in a month. I often wonder if anybody else has ever done that.

How much did you run during your peak years? I was a big mileage guy 100 miles a week for thirty years. 120 when I was at my best. We were the volume generation!

Top races or running achievements? My best race probably was Bay to Breakers in 1977. I made the podium! I got third. In February 1979 I ran a modest 29:32 10,000m on the track, and it was the best time in the country. It lasted about a week after all the big league runners from the east coast got out of the snow. My PRs are 13:51 5K, and 28:51 10K.

Estimate of your total lifetime miles? 198,000 miles over 51 years.
Running on a favorite local trail.

Do you prefer social running or solo running? I've run most of my miles alone. But I've also run with Mark Covert, Dave Babiracki, Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, Gordon Pirie, Ron Clarke, Peter Snell, Jim Ryun, Ron Hill, Dave Bedford, Jos Hermens, Rod Dixon, John Walker, Dick Quax, Garry Bjorklund, Bill Rodgers, Tom Fleming, Don Kardong, Craig Virgin, Marty Liquori, Alberto Salazar, Lasse Viren, and a few more.

Current running, cross-training, stretching, strength work, etc? I run 3-5 miles a day. I'd like to run more but West Hills is very hilly. It's not called West Flats. I stretch a lot--that's what lions and tigers do to stay strong. I'm convinced there are no gyms in the jungle.

Any recent race results? I'm 68 now, and the last race I ran was a 3K when I was 62. It was a tribute for a runner on my Notre Dame HS team. Mark Covert was the timer. I got second and yelled at Mark--"Did I win my age group?" I've run 619 races, and figure that's enough.

Does getting slower bother you? Yeah it sucks. I really miss fast workouts and the burn you feel afterwards!

Dietary and weight changes? Supplements? Not really. I've weighed 160 lbs. at 6'4" for 45 years. I eat real smart, but I admit I drink bad. I have never tried coffee so I drink 8 oz. of Dr.Pepper to wake up. And I confess I'm a big Sam Adams fan!!

Injuries and/or health issues? During my soon to be 50-year streak I've had three surgeries and 10 broken bones and I ran through them all. As we used to say, "Where there is a will, there is a way."
Any favorite inspirational quotes? "Great is the victory but the friendship is greater", Emil Zatopek.

"Speed is a gift, endurance is an achievement." Herb Elliott

"The only tactics I admire are do or die." Herb Elliott

Three short tips for those seeking a lifetime of running?
1--Take you time.
2--Measure your effort.
3--Every years--at 40, 50, 60, and so on--wipe out your PRs and start new!

How does running & fitness improve your life? I owe all I have--my life, my career, my job, my reputation--to doing something that most people told me not to do. I've never been happier than I am now because I trusted my instincts and my heart!

What's your philosopy of life, aging, and running? That's easy--Just go do it.

PROFILE--Now 82, Libby James has been running for 48 years

(5-2019) In 2016, youthful 80-year-old Libby James broke the USATF 80-84 5K record with her 25:14 clocking (8:07/mile) in Syracuse NY. James also holds the current USA  records for the 80-84 age-group in the 10K and 15K distances. On Memorial Day she’ll be running the Bolder Boulder 10K, where she holds the age-group record (62:22) by a mere ...18 minutes.

Your career/profession? I’ve had a checkered career that includes 15 years working with single teen mothers to help them get GEDs and jobs. I’ve edited local magazines and done lots of freelance writing. Currently I write regularly for the North Forty News based in Fort Collins. I’ve published five books, three for young people, one on running and one that grew out of my experience living in

PROFILE: Norm Spitzig has been running for 53 years

Half Marathon, Dec, 2018
Norm Spitzig figures that he has run 2000 miles or more for 46 years. He hopes to reach 50, and then maybe to taper off a bit. At age 68 going on 69, Spitzig ran a 1:56 half marathon last December. He's fond of quoting Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter: “It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our choices.” He also reminds us all not to sweat the small stuff, because it's ALL small stuff.

Career-profession? I spent my professional life working in the world of private clubs, early on as a general manager and, for the past two decades, as Principal and Senior Partner in Master Club Advisors, where I continue to focus my efforts on executive search, leadership workshops for boards of directors, strategic planning facilitation, and speaking to assorted club associations and groups literally around the world. All four of my private-club-centered novels (Private Clubs in America and around the World, Murder and Mayhem at Old Bunbury, How Now, Norm’s Tao, and Soul on Nice) continue to sell reasonably well because, well, most everyone agrees that they are pretty darn funny. (Book details are available at www.CliveEndiveOgiveIV.com and www.NormSpitzig.com.)

When did you start running and why? I began running regularly as a junior in high school, I think because I didn’t make the football, basketball and baseball teams—and I dearly wanted to participate/compete in a sport. (Cross country here I come!) It has turned out spectacularly well for me: I’ve been running, and loving every minute of it, for over fifty years!

How much did you run in your peak years, miles/week? I had one year when I surpassed 3,000 logged running miles back in the early 1980’s, but far more importantly, I have been very consistent in striving for, and almost always reaching, at least 2,000 logged running miles in any  given calendar year—something that I have accomplished 46 times during my time on earth. I’m hoping to make it an even 50 before I begin to back off a bit.

Top performances or running achievements? My best time in the marathon is 2:51:30, recorded at the 1982 America’s Marathon in Chicago. Other “notable” personal bests (at least from my perspective!) are:
*** my 1982 Fort Wayne 50-mile run in 6:49:04,
*** my 35:50 in the 1982 Cincinnati Home Loan 10K,
*** my fifty-five minutes flat in the 1981 Cincinnati “Mini-Marathon” (15 kilometers), and
*** my 1:21:02 in the 1981 Covington (Kentucky) Wade YMCA Half Marathon.
Norm and wife, Cody


Total lifetime miles? That’s an easy one: I officially surpassed 100,000 logged running miles on March 27th , 2019. My highest weekly mileage is right at 100, a feat that I accomplished exactly once. (And that was enough!) As of this writing, I am around 100,100 miles, “off and running” on my second one-hundred-thousand miles!

Current running, cross-training, strength and stretching?
I do a fair amount of stretching before and after my runs, but my cross-training and strength work are virtually non-existent (unless you count my “reps” raising the evening glasses of Chardonnay to my mouth!).

A recent race result? I’m not sure if what I do still qualifies as “racing”, but I do faithfully participate in one (and only one) running event each year: The Mount Dora, Florida Half Marathon every third Sunday in December. I ran a 1:56:43 in the 2018 event, a mere 35:41 slower than my personal best over the same distance in Kentucky thirty-eight years ago. Alas, tempus fugit.

Does getting slower bother you? How do you stay motivated? Not one bit! I still very much love to run—and decades of experience tells me that, no matter how badly I feel right before I start, I will surely feel a whole lot better, both physically and mentally, when I finish. People who are
looking for “motivation” to run are missing the point; just get out there and do it like you always do!

Any changes in diet, weight, supplement usage? My wife, Cody, is an excellent cook—she owns a wonderful little breakfast and lunch cafĂ© in downtown Mount Dora FL called Cody’s on 4 th (www.Codyson4th.com)—so I’ve always been spoiled with healthy, tasty, home-cooked food. Lucky me! My daily “supplements” currently consist of a multivitamin, an aspirin, some potato chips and Chardonnay.

Injuries or other health setbacks? I have been very blessed when it comes to my running: I have had very few injuries—and those that I have had have been minor. I attribute this to a combination of luck, clean living, good genes, and the fact that I have enough sense to “back off” or take a day or two off if and when I sense something “wrong” with my body. I just don’t have the temperament to be a streak runner, out there each and every single day come hell or high water.


Favorite inspirational quotes?
1--"The six best doctors in the world are sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and friends.” – Steve Jobs
(2) “It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our
choices.” – Albus Dumbledore
(3) “You can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won’t back down.” –Tom Petty
(4) “When I get my big raise, I’m going to spend ninety percent of it on wine, women and song. I’ll probably waste the other ten percent.” – Dizzy Dean

Three short tips for hopeful lifetime runners?
1--Take it one day at a time,
2--Keep your sense of perspective and sense of
humor.
3--Never forget this most basic rule of life: “Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s ALL small stuff.”

How does running and fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? Running soothes the “Savage Type-A Beast” in me, it keeps me mentally sharp and physically fit, and it adds purpose and meaning to my life. Who could ask for more?!

How would you describe your philosophy of life, running, and aging? There is a large volume of research, beginning with the landmark MacArthur Foundation Study on Aging about 30 ago, that clearly demonstrates that much more is possible than once thought as we age. In fact, we now know that 70% of physical aging, and about 50% of mental aging, is determined by lifestyle—the choices we make every day. Rather than being a process of steady decline, aging can be a time of growth if we maintain our physical and mental skills, reduce our risk for disease and injury, and stay productive and engaged with life. Running dovetails into this research perfectly!

PROFILE--John Cahill is running (and racing) strong at age 95


Cahill races a 5K in Utah last fall.
(5-2019) In John Cahill's most recent race, the first weekend in April, he clocked a 2:54:25. That's about 10 minutes faster than his marathon time 23 years ago when he was 72. Of course, now that he's 95, Cahill is not running hard marathons any longer. As he says of his recent 2:54: "Not bad for an 11K." And we agree. He also says, "I will continue to get to the start lines on time, and to reach the finish." We like that attitude too, because it's all about attitude. Right?

Your career/profession? I practiced law for 26 years.  Then I decided to get an honest job. I am in the ski lodge business now.

When did you start running and why? I started in 1986 when I was 62 years of age.  I started running because I was overweight and wanted

PROFILE--Suzanne Ray has been running for 49 years


(4-2019) Although Suzanne Ray has been running since she was 17, she set most of her PRs after turning 40, including qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials, twice, in 1992 and 1996.  In March, the 66-year old from Oregon set her second age-group national record, cruising through the Oregon Road Runners Club 30K in St. Paul, Oregon, in 2:22.48, breaking the previous record by five minutes.

Career-profession? I’ve been a language arts teacher and cross-country coach for almost 40 years. I began coaching when my daughters reached middle school and I realized that there were no XC or track teams at their school in Anchorage, Alaska, where I was teaching. I started the first teams there with five boys and a few girls and developed it into a championship team that was featured in Runners’ World. My coaching philosophy remains the same: I want to develop life-long athletes who feel joy when they run. I use the “less is more” idea to keep kids from burning out mentally and physically.

When did you start running and why? Officially, 1970 but I began running in the early days before Title IX. I grew up in Alaska at a time when few girls were involved in organized sports, but I enjoyed biking, walking, skating, and downhill and cross-country skiing. In college (1970) I was required to take a swimming class. I felt so good after working out each morning in swim class that I decided to take tennis, dance, sailing, and finally “jogging.” For some reason, the jogging instructor sent me to run with the guys. After that class I mixed biking, swimming, and running for several years before deciding that running was my favorite. At my first race, a 7 miler in Tacoma when I was 20, I wore Keds and cut-off jeans. For my first marathon, in Anchorage, Alaska, when I was 24, I read that a person could run twice as far as his or her regular daily mileage, so I ran 13 miles each day and ran a 3:30.

How much did you run in your peak years? I have run 82 miles a week for over 40 years, with 90-100 during marathon training, and I still do that. I didn’t really train well until my late 30s when a local track coach, Larry Whitmore, helped me set up a training program that brought me to my lifetime PRs when I was 39 and 40. 

Top race performances and/or proudest achievements? Winning the Bangkok Marathon when I was 41 was amazing. The organizers were looking for a solid 2:40 marathoner to pull along the Asian women who had not run an Olympic qualifier at that time, and since I ran low 2:40s they asked me to come. It was definitely a radical change to go from Alaska in the winter to Bangkok. Placing in the masters at Peachtree in 1993-5 was special since I had heard so much about the largest race in the US. Running in the Olympic marathon trials in 1992 was an honor that had me crying with gratitude to be there. Racing over the years and through the age groups has been the source of so many wonderful memories.

PERSONAL BESTS (ALL AFTER AGE 40): 
5K:
 17:11, 1993 PALMER FAIR RUN 
8K:
 28:27, 1994 ALASKA WOMEN'S RUN 
10K:
 34:58, 1993 SEWARD SALMON RUN 
10 MILES:
 59:33, 1994 BOBBY CRIM 
HALF MARATHON:
 1:18:00, CHILKOOT HALF 
MARATHON:
 2:40:42, 1993 TWIN CITIES

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? I have run an average of 82 miles a week, which totals about 4,000 miles a year, for over 40 years. That would mean more than 160,000 miles. 

How much are you running now? Strength work? Stretching? I have made few changes through the years, except, of course, slowing down. I used to do two speed workouts and a long run each week, but I can’t recover as quickly now, so I do one speed workout and combine the long run with the second speed workout. I do a lot of walking and stationary biking as I grade essays or read. I do 20-30 minutes of core and 30 minutes of upper body lifting 2-3 times a week.

TRAINING PHILOSOPHY: Since I have no natural speed, consistency and miles are my friends. I love running long, but I know I have to face shorter repeats every few weeks to work on my weakness. I have coached myself for most of my running years, and I know that variety is necessary, but radical changes in training are not. I change my training slightly several times a year, but I always include long speed and short speed (or short work and tempo runs) each week unless hill repeats take the place of the short speed.

Ray, second from right, was part of Team
Red Lizard, winner of the 60+ team comp
at last year's USATF Masters 8k champs.
Has your diet changed through the years?  I have always loved vegetables and fruit, have eaten some chicken and fish but no beef or pork, and maintained a weakness for chocolate, low fat ice cream, and quality baked goods. It has been said of me that there is not a good bakery that I don’t know about.

How important is social running to you? Can you adapt to the slower times? Social running is vitally important to me. I run with friends at least half of my miles each week, and most of my best friends are runners. So few people have the chance to talk with their friends for hours at a time while accomplishing something else. Slowing down can be embarrassing, so I am very thankful for age-group and age-graded running. Each day can require a gratitude check, one in which I thank God that I can still enjoy running with so many wonderful people even if I can’t run a 400 at the speed with which I used to run marathons.

Obstacles along the way: I have been lucky to have few injuries. Obstacles would include spending so many of my competitive years in Alaska where weather and getting to major races was a challenge. Teaching and coaching can be energy sapping as well. 

Has running helped you with the aging process? Definitely! The positives of running as we age are innumerable and include things like relationships and community-building; self- concept maintenance in a culture that does not value age; the maintenance of a body that can participate in all the wonderful activities of life, mental and physical health, weight control, a sense of accomplishment...the list goes on.

What three tips would you give a younger runner who wants to be a lifetime runner? 
1--Focus on daily joy. 
2--Think long-term. 
3--Value competition without basing your value on your competitive success or failure.
Mid 1980s, with husband and first high
school xc team.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Discipline always pays off. Patience is necessary for long-term progress. Talent is less important than the desire to improve. That which you work for the hardest means the most when you achieve it. I am also happy to have maintained a true joy in running for so many years. Of course there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed at 5AM to run in the rain (or ice and snow or the treadmill in Alaska), but I have never been truly burned out or wanted a break. I am also thankful that I have had the opportunity to share my joy with so many student-athletes over my coaching years.

PROFILE--Janet Cain has been running for 44 years


Cain ran 4:00 in the 2016
Boston Marathon
Janet Cain ran her 70th marathon at the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) in March (4:32:29) and it was her most challenging, after being declared legally blind in 2017.  She was paced by a friend, as a practice for her next marathon, Boston (16th) in April (4:49:25).  Growing up in the pre-Title IX era, Cain started running on her own. She won her first 10K race and won her second marathon, the Rome Marathon in 1985. Cain also holds the NVM course record for female athletes in the 60 to 64-year-old age group, 3:43:49, which she set in 2014. At 69, Cain has a lifetime marathon PR of 2:58:11, and estimates her lifetime miles at 175,000 miles give or take a few thousand.

Career/Profession: I am a clinical psychologist. Haven’t retired yet. I live in Sonoma, CA.

When did you start running, and why? I started running in 1975.  My life was out of control and I needed a stress reliever. I was in a demanding PhD psychology program at Case Western Reserve University. In addition, my 24-year-old husband was diagnosed with

PROFILE: Ben Beach Has Run 51 Straight Boston Marathons


(4-19) Ben Beach has run and finished 51 Boston Marathons in a row, and he'll be on the line again Monday morning in Hopkinton. Beach's streak is the longest in Boston Marathon history, and probably in world marathoning. The 69-year-old from Bethesda MD broke 2:30 four times in younger, faster days but now battles a rare neurological disorder that puts a "hitch" in his stride. It's not enough to stop Beach, however.

Career-profession? I’ve been a writer and editor for most of my career, whether with publications, environmental groups, or the federal government.

When did you start running and why? I enjoyed baseball, football, and basketball, but by age 16 it became clear that I lacked the size and strength to be successful in any of them. I started dabbling in running and discovered that I had an appropriate body for it. I was never on a HS or college team; I just ran on my own.

How much did you run in your peak years? Probably just over 100 miles/week, but I hit that only during a brief period while training for a marathon. In my peak years, I ran about 3,000 during the year.

Top race performances and/or proudest achievements?
I've run every Boston Marathon since 1968. My best marathon was in New York: 2:26:29 in 1981. In Boston I was under 2:30 four times and under 2:40 17 times. I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in 53:15 in 1978.

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? This is a wild guess because I have almost no info from age 16 to 25. (But I wasn’t racking up too many miles during the first half of that span.) Since 1974, I’ve run about 75,000 miles.

How much are you running and cross-training now? Strength work? Stretching? My dystonia [see below] has ruined my gait, so I run only three days in an average week and probably total only 15 miles. In March (2019) I hit 102 miles, my first month over 100 in 13 years. Pathetic! I do at least two workouts most days, with a mix of running, biking, swimming (summer only), weight-lifting, rowing (on a machine), and use of an elliptical trainer and exercycle. I love the variety. I stretch a lot but remain tight.

Any recent race results? Embarrassing! I ran the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile in 1:44:45 on April 7, 2019. I believe that’s my only race the past six months.

Does it bother you that you are slower now and how do you stay motivated? Yes, it’s very frustrating that it takes me twice as long to run a marathon and that when I put in an hour on the roads, I have covered only five or six miles. I tell myself that at least my body is still capable of running. As my times deteriorate, I can still set goals and compete in my age group. I try to compare myself to other 70-year-olds rather than to Ben Beach at age 35.

Diet, weight, supplements? I weighed about 125 pounds when I graduated from college and am still 125, though I’ve probably grown a couple of inches. I have been taking glucosamine for a number of years in hopes it’s good for my joints. I tend to doubt that it is, but I haven’t heard that there’s any downside to the stuff, and I’m willing to pay for it (usually stocking up when it’s on sale). I’m not a big fan of supplements; I believe that if I eat a reasonably balanced diet, I’ll get what I need.


Injuries and health issues? Like most long-time distance runners, I’ve had all kinds of injuries—to hamstrings, calves, groins, knees, hip flexors, etc. In the early days, I was inclined to run through them, but before long I discovered that was dopey. Last year I had two hernia operations. Fortunately, the hernias came along after the marathon. I don’t think they were running-related.

My biggest health issue arose when I was in my early 50s: a neurological disorder called dystonia. In my case, the brain, for some reason, tells my left hamstring to contract when I’m trying to stride. The result is a very awkward gait, to put it charitably. I get botox shots every four months, which help somewhat. I thought my running days were over, but the human body is incredibly adaptable. [Video, 12 years ago, of Ben and his awkward, dystonia-induced stride.] 

What 3 short tips would you offer to younger runners who want to run for a lifetime?
1--Cross-train.
2--Listen to your body.
3--Stretch.

How does running & fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? I can’t imagine life without exercise. I certainly concur with all those studies showing the many benefits of exercise. One thing I particularly appreciate is the freedom to eat more.

What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? Steadiness pays, and you get out what you put in. Pardon the platitudes! I want to stay healthy as long as I can.