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Jon Sutherland Runs Every Day for 50 Years — and Counting

Jon Sutherland with United States Running Streak Association President Mark Washburne and several other U.S.R.S.A. streakers.
Jon Sutherland with U.S. Running Streak Association President Mark Washburne and other U.S.R.S.A. streakers.

The morning was overcast and — remarkably — there was a 70% chance of rain. An eclectic group of runners was gathered at the Victory Trailhead of Ahmanson Ranch to celebrate Jon Sutherland’s run streak of 18,263 days.

Included in the group were Chaminade and Notre Dame High School athletes Jon has coached, a four-time Olympian, an NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Champion, CSUN hall-of-fame teammates, members of the United States Running Streak Association, and many, many of Jon’s good friends.

CBS 2 Los Angeles interviews Jon Sutherland regarding his 50-year running streak.
CBS 2 Los Angeles interviews Jon Sutherland regarding his 50-year running streak. Click for larger image.

Jon Sutherland is #1 on the U.S.A. Active Running Streak List and has the longest active streak in the world. Running every day is tough. Heck, it’s tough enough to brush your teeth every day and that only takes a couple of minutes. Jon has run through strains & pains, illness, injury and tragedy. He’s maintained his streak through two knee operations, hernia surgery, and several fractures.

Except for a few rogue sprinkles, the rain held off for most of the morning. Following a short run up to Lasky Mesa, the group reassembled at the trailhead to recognize Jon’s accomplishments.

Olympic medalist and long-time friend Rod Dixon presented Jon with a signed print of a superb oil painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott’s world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Four-time Olympian, Rod Dixon, presents Jon Sutherland with a print of a painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott's world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Four-time Olympian, Rod Dixon, presents Jon Sutherland with a print of a painting by Tom Ogiela of Herb Elliott’s world record-setting gold medal finish in the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Click for larger image.

Mark Washburne, President of the United States Running Streak Association, then presented Jon with a commemorative plaque and a lifetime membership in the association.

Then it was Jon’s turn. Story-telling is an art at which Jon excels. His poignant story was about the painting of Herb Elliott.

Tom Ogiela, a Sutherland-family friend, was only thirteen when he did the painting. Jon told him, “that one day I would become a good enough runner and Herb Elliott would see his painting.”

Jon Sutherland's thank you to those that have supported him over 50 years of running.
Jon Sutherland’s thank you to those that have supported him over 50 years of running. Click for larger image.

Tragically, Tom was killed as a result of a construction accident at age 20. With the help of Rod, Jon was able to fulfill his vow to the young artist. Herb Elliott did indeed see the painting and the print presented to Jon was signed by the Gold Medalist. The full story is in the Summer 2019 edition of The Streak Registry on the United States Running Streak Association Home page.

Jon wrapped up the event by thanking his family and friends and all those that have helped him along the way.

Congrats Jon! And we all look forward to being back at Ahmanson on July 4, 2021, when your run streak reaches 19033 days and becomes the longest on record.

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Poodle-dog Bush Near the Top of the Mt. Wilson Trail

Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi) growing along the Mt. Wilson Trail about a half-mile from the top.
Poodle-dog bush near the top of the Mt. Wilson Trail. June 15, 2019.

The Mt. Wilson – Chantry Flat loop is a favorite that I run a couple times a year. Including a little bonus mileage to get to the Mt. Wilson parking lot before the gate opens, the run is about 18 miles long and gains/loses about 4500′ of elevation. The main trails in the loop are the Rim Trail, Gabrielino Trail, Upper Winter Creek Trail and Mt. Wilson Trail.

The weather was perfect for today’s run. Sunny at the beginning, then partly cloudy for the 4000′ climb from the “green bridge” below Chantry to the parking lot on Mt. Wilson. Although there was a lot of poison oak on the Rim and Gabrielino Trails, it was mostly avoidable. About 30 minutes into the run, I was surprised to hear the unmistakable gobble and rustling of a wild turkey high on the Rim Trail.

Near the end of the loop, on the section of the Mt. Wilson Trail above the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, I saw two solo hikers brush against new, vigorously growing patches of Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi). I spoke to them, and they were unaware that, like poison oak, Poodle-dog bush can cause an itchy rash. Some people don’t react at all to the plant and others can have a severe reaction. My own experience is described in this post.

Poodle-dog bush is a fire follower that grows in the San Gabriel Mountains, and some other areas. It became very widespread following the 2009 Station Fire. There are still some diminishing patches of Poodle-dog bush on the north side of Mt. Wilson (and elsewhere) from the Station Fire, but the Poodle-dog bush on this part of the Mt. Wilson Trail is a result of the 2017 Mt. Wilson Fire.

Some related posts: Contact Dermatitis from Turricula parryi – Poodle-dog Bush, Mt. Wilson – Newcomb Pass – Chantry Flat Loop, Misplaced on Mt. Wilson, GSU Mt. Wilson CHARA Telescope Array

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Fire Followers Along the Backbone Trail

Fire poppy (Papaver californicum), a fire follower, along the Backbone Trail west of Sandstone Peak. May 18, 2019.
Fire poppy along the Backbone Trail.

Fire followers are plants that grow in a recently burned area in much larger numbers than before a fire. In some cases the species may rarely have been observed in the area prior to the fire.

A good example of a fire follower is Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi), which became widespread in the San Gabriel Mountains following the 2009 Station Fire.

A wet rain season also increases the population of many species. Combine a fire and wet rain season and plant distributions and populations can be dramatically altered.

Large-flowered Phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora), a fire follower, near Tri Peaks. May 18, 2019.
Large-flowered Phacelia near Tri Peaks. Click for larger image.

Yesterday, I did a long run in the Santa Monica Mountains that included several miles of the Backbone Trail between Sandstone Peak and the Danielson Multi-use area in Sycamore Canyon. This area was burned in 2018 Woolsey Fire and there were some stunning displays of fire followers and other wildflowers.

Star lily was one of the earliest fire followers to bloom in the area and remains prevalent, but the champion fire follower at the moment is large-flowered Phacelia. Before the Woolsey Fire it would be unusual to see this plant on this section of the Backbone Trail. Now its purple-blue flowers blanket large areas along the trail.

Although not as numerous as the large-flowered Phacelia, I’ve never seen so many fire poppies along the Backbone Trail. Its orange-red color is striking and stands out sharply against the brown, charcoal-infused soil. Also more abundant this year is the vibrant yellow collarless poppy.

Here is a slideshow of some of the wildflowers seen on the run.

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More Weekday Wildflowers

Wildflowers photographed on weekday runs from the Victory Trailhead of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

Over the past two weeks more than 15 species were added to my Weekday Wildflowers slideshow. These are wildflowers photographed on weekday runs from the Victory Trailhead of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

Some related posts: Chinese Houses Along the Sheep Corral Trail, Weekday Wildflowers

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Painted Lady Butterflies in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve

Painted Lady Butterflies in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve. May 12, 2019.

Back in March, a profusion of painted lady butterflies in Southern California made headlines. The colorful insects were said to be passing through the area on their way to Oregon and other points to the north.

Two months later millions of the black, orange and white butterflies continue to be seen in the West San Fernando Valley, Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (Ahmanson Ranch), and other areas. Recently there has been an uptick in their numbers and there have been some remarkable displays of the flyers along local trails.

Painted lady in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve with the characteristic four eyespots on the hindwing.
Painted lady in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve with the characteristic four eyespots on the hindwing. Click for a larger image.

There are three very similar species of “lady” butterflies in the genus Vanessa — the painted lady (Vanessa cardui), the American lady (Vanessa virginiensis) and the west coast lady (Vanessa annabella). The Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility web site has a side-by-side comparison of these species and this post on BugGuide.net compares the American lady to the painted lady.

The lady butterflies I’ve looked at closely in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve have the identifying characteristics of the painted lady (Vanessa cardui). Here are an open-wing photo and a closed-wing photo of painted lady butterflies in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

This three-minute slow-motion video of painted lady butterflies in upper Las Virgenes Canyon reveals their fluid, bird-like flight. The purple flowers in the video are winter vetch, an introduced plant which is also more abundant this year.

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Chinese Houses Along the Sheep Corral Trail

Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) along the Sheep Corral Trail

Wildflowers continue to flourish following our wet rain season. Above average precipitation tends to produce more wildflowers, a wider variety of wildflowers, larger patches of a wildflower species, larger plants, and in some cases larger blossoms.

During the week I photographed several new “Weekday Wildflowers” on runs from the Victory Trailhead of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve. This week’s runs included Lasky Mesa, Upper Las Virgenes Canyon, and the Sheep Corral Trail.

Chinese houses, white snapdragon, yellow monkey flower, stinging lupine, and a few other species were added to the Weekday Wildflowers slideshow.

Related post: Weekday Wildflowers

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