There hasn’t been a person in America more dedicated to running over the last 45 years than Mark Covert, but after an astounding 16,437 consecutive days of logging at least a mile on his feet, the 62-year-old Californian has called it quits.
Covert’s streak started on July 23, 1968, with a 15-mile run past Griffith Park and through Burbank. In the decades since, Covert has endured a multitude of injuries, including a broken foot, knee surgery, shoulder surgery and a kidney stone, to log more than 150,000 miles.
It was a midfoot collapse and forthcoming reconstructive surgery, however, that finally got the best of Covert. On Tuesday — 45 years to the day after his first jog — Covert made his final run, with friends, family and colleagues by his side.
"It's just remarkable that all of these people would come out here for this. There are a lot of people I haven't seen in years and years, some as far back as high school. I'm really overwhelmed. It means a lot to me," Covert told the Los Angeles Daily News. "Anybody who saw this run knows this has got to end before I really get hurt. This was the right time."
As the U.S. record holder, Covert's streak of 16,437 consecutive days of running at least a mile is second to England's Ron Hill, who has run at least a mile a day every day since Dec. 20, 1964.
Next in line stateside is Covert's former college teammate Jon Sutherland, who is set to break Covert's record in May.
"He's my friend," Sutherland told the Daily News, "and I wanted to see the guy to go forever."
With his running days behind him, Covert will focus his attention on training for a new conquest — a 100-mile bike ride scheduled for later this year.
"What really means a lot to me is the amount of people who have said how much this streak means to them and how it's influenced their lives and what they do," Covert said. "This isn't something I had to do, it's something I wanted to do because it was my passion. We all like to be the star, so I guess for one day, I'm a star."