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Burbank High graduate Mark Covert content to end streak on his own terms

August 02, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
(Antelope Valley…)

LANCASTER — His Wednesday began like any another throughout the last 45 years.

Burbank High alumnus Mark Covert awoke at 4 a.m. for his predawn workout.

The plan had been the same for the Lancaster resident, which is to say Covert scheduled an hour of exercise, followed by a shower, breakfast and then a short drive to Antelope Valley College for 6 a.m. practice with his men's and women's cross-country teams.

The only difference this Wednesday was that the 62-year-old Covert, a current coach and teacher at Antelope Valley College, didn't take his usual 2-to-4-mile jog-walk hybrid, but instead enjoyed a vigorous workout on his recently-purchased bike.

Such a minute change would seem trivial if not for the fact that Covert did not run at all on that Wednesday, which marked the first time the one-time Glendale Community College coach did not complete at least a one-mile run since July 22, 1968.

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On July 24, Covert's all-time American streak of consecutive days of having completed a mile, according to the United States Running Streak Assn., ended at 16,436 days, or exactly 45 years. A streak which began shortly after Covert's Burbank High graduation, had finally come to an end.

During that time, Covert racked up 149,660 miles, which averaged out to 9.1 miles per day or roughly 6.4 trips around the earth or a two-thirds trek to the moon. During his journey, nine presidents were in office, beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson, signer of the Civil Rights Act, and ending with Barack Obama.

A mid-foot collapse that will require surgery slowed Covert to a hobble over the last six months and ultimately led to an eventual pause on July 24. Interestingly, though, it wasn't pain that brought about the end, but rather Covert's inability to train to his up tempo and high-energy standards.

Yet, with every reason to be sad about the ending of the streak, Covert was instead grateful and reflective of what he was able to accomplish.

"It was time to stop. For those who have seen me recently, I've struggled to complete my runs. I've hobbled most of my runs the last few months," Covert said. "I could have continued, but I wasn't really getting anything out it. There was no point.

"What I appreciate most is that I was able to end the streak on my own terms. That's special to me."

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