FULLERTON – Cal State Fullerton’s annual Labor Day weekend season-opening cross country meet will be known as the Mark Covert Classic beginning with the Sept. 1, 2012, event at Carbon Canyon Park in Brea.
Covert is a legendary distance runner who won the NCAA College Division individual championship in 1970 and led the Titans to the NCAA team title in 1971. He went on to run in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials and win the national AAU 25 K championship.
He currently holds the American record for most consecutive days running at least a mile. The streak began on July 24, 1968, and now covers more than 15,000 days or almost 44 years. He has been the track and field coach at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster since 1990 after previous stints at Glendale College (1974), L.A. Valley College (1976-83) and L.A. Trade Tech (1983-85).
“I’m very surprised and very honored,” said Covert upon hearing the news from Cross Country and Track and Field Coach John Elders. “I was at Fullerton a long time ago… to think they would name something after me is very, very nice and a great honor.”
“I was sitting at my computer and it just kind of hit me like a bolt of lightning,” said Elders. “Mark really deserves the recognition, not just because he was a national champion. Running has been such an impactful thing on his life. He’s made an impact on the lives of others and has been giving back to the sport since the mid-70s.”
Covert earned All-America status seven times. He graduated from Burbank High School in 1968 and from L.A. Valley College in 1970. He got his bachelors degree at Cal State Fullerton in 1973 and his masters in 1979 from Cal Lutheran. He and his wife, Debi, have four children. The eldest, Chris, also ran cross country for the Titans and later coached cross country and track at Southern Connecticut State University.
Covert has been enshrined in the Mt. San Antonio College Cross Country, L.A. Valley College, NCAA Div. II Cross Country and Nike Halls of Fame The meet has been called simply the Fullerton Season Opener. The all-comers event typically draws more than 40 teams and more than 500 runners.