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National record holder Mark Covert ends streak of one-mile runs at 45 years

Track and field: Burbank High alumnus, former GCC Coach Mark Covert caps 45-year-old streak of running one mile each day in front of family, friends Tuesday morning.

July 23, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Burbank High graduate and former Glendale Community College assistant track and field Coach Mark Covert, right end of the top row, has run one mile a day the past 45 years without a break.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Burbank High graduate and former Glendale… (Courtesy of Glendale…)

LANCASTER — What had often been described as a solitary streak was anything but lonely at the end for Burbank High alumnus Mark Covert.

The one-time Glendale Community College track and field coach capped a historic 45-year run, in which the former Cal State Fullerton star ran at least one mile each day without pause since 1968, on Tuesday morning at Antelope Valley College with one final mile lap through the campus.

Covert, who owns the longest national streak ever, according to the United States Running Streak Assn, trailed only Great Britain’s Ron Hill, who began his running in December of 1964.

While most of the 16,436 consecutive days or 149, 651 miles Covert had run since beginning his journey on July 23, 1968 were done alone, on Tuesday the current Antelope Valley College coach was joined by a group of nearly 70 runners who had known Covert from his various stops at Burbank High, Glendale college, Cal State Fullerton, Antelope Valley College, Los Angeles Valley College and places in between.

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“We had over-unders [on the number of people present] and I went way under,” Covert quipped. “I was very surprised when people starting contacting me – high school friends, college buddies, roommates – that said they were going to make the trip out here. Then I started getting kids that ran for me that flew in from across the country. It’s very humbling to say the least.

“To think what this streak has done, what it means to different people is quite amazing to me and it’s fun.”

Many present at Covert’s final run received an initial email from the 62-year-old Lancaster resident on May 23 declaring his intent to end the streak that began while the Vietnam War was raging due to a foot injury.

“I have a mid-foot collapse and my foot is completely twisted to the outside. I really can’t lift or push off anymore; I just kind of drag it around,” Covert said. “I’ve taken a couple of headers when I’ve been out on the road.

“This is the right time to do this. To keep doing this just to do it, to keep the streak alive isn’t worth it. I’m not getting any benefit.”

Covert confirmed he is having surgery on his foot soon and will be sidelined from running for a while. To fill the void, Covert has turned to cycling, which allows him to train significantly harder.

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