Mark Covert takes a break, the second longest running streak in history ends, by Larry Eder

Mark covert, lisa peterson.jpg
Mark Covert, photo by Grace Patterson

Mark Covert is a truly unique individual, for many reasons. Covert competed in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic marathon Trials, running huge miles, as much as 6,000 miles in a year. Mark Covert gave up his job at a little company called Nike, because it was taking away from his running time. Mark Covert started his running streak with a fifteen mile run as a teenager, and he did not stop for 45 years. 

Mark Covert was one of my early running heroes because, he was, well, real. Covert was one of the guys who made California road running real. Covert ran for the pure act of running. And, it was beautiful. 

Mark Covert's running streak, was a living, breathing companion. In a world where we are surrounded by digital, social and audio noise, 24/7, it is not surprising that many people have the attention span of gnats. Covert's running streak is as about listening to one's heart, soles and lungs. 

The ending of his streak, to me, is fascinating. Not so much a wake, but, a rebirth, a type of reincarnation. How will Mark run in the future? Will he take a break for a bit? Will he bike now, and run when his foot gets better? Who knows? Does it really matter?

In the end, Mark Covert has made the daily journey, for 45 years, 16,000 plus days, 145,000 plus miles. Covert has focused on the moment. In my mind, Mark Covert has given the best example of what Buddhists speak about, of being in the moment. He celebrated with his wife, his family, his friends. 

While I was not at this event, I was at Mark's 25th anniversary. Mark doesn't look much different, but then, what would you expect from a guy who has been a lone voice of sanity in the desert for over four and one half decades?

On Tuesday, July 22, 2013, Mark Covert ended his running streak at 45 years, he has run 16,436 days, and 149,653 miles. I am sorry I was not there for this day. I was at his 25th anniversary of the streak, and I will never forget that. Mark Covert is an original. I believe he was employee number three or four at Nike, but he quit because the job hampered his running. At that time (1972-74), Mark was running about 6,000 miles a year. His pb of 2:22 for the marathon was one of the best in the country at his time. Covert ran 150-170 miles a week and lived to talk about it. 

Mark Covert is the track coach at Antelope Valley Community college in Lancaster, California. He is a man of great conviction, and his streak was a living, breathing part of him. His athletes love him, and come back to see him. 

I knew of Mark Covert in the mid 70s as a serious runner, from the 72 Trials and 76 Trials. I first met him when I was a track coach at Foothill College. We email each other a few times a year. I am looking forward to reading his book. 

He told Amby Burfoot recently that he would tell people who want to start a streak an emphatic "No". 

Makes sense....

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