Nation’s Longest Running Streak Coming to an End
Ask Mark Covert what he did on August 9, 1974, the day Richard Nixon resigned, and his answer will likely include the words “I went for a run.”
He’d done likewise on July 21, 1969, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and in subsequent years, he’s laced up and logged at least one mile on the days Hank Aaron retired, America mourned the Challenger disaster, the Berlin Wall fell, and Barack Obama took the oath of office.
Covert doesn’t just hit the roads on special occasions, though. He’s run every day, without fail, since July 22, 1968, and in doing so, he’s amassed the longest streak on record in the United States.
It’s an impressive feat, but like all good things, it must come to an end. As Runner’s World reports, the 62-year-old California teacher and coach will wrap his streak on July 23, the 45th anniversary of when it all began.
"My right foot has a total midfoot collapse and does not do much of anything anymore," Covert wrote on his blog, explaining his reasons for hanging up his sneakers. "I walk with a limp and when I run, it is more like a hobble. There are days when a hobble is a good day!"
This situation hasn’t been satisfying to Covert, who has hardly been jogging through all those years. He was the NCAA Division II cross-country champion for Cal State Fullerton in 1970, and he finished seventh in the 1972 Olympic Trials Marathon. To try to get some harder workouts in while his injured foot has slowed his running, Covert recently borrowed his son’s bicycle and discovered that he can get a good training session in by pedaling.
"Everyone that knows me, knows that I love to train and train hard," Covert wrote. "I have my own bike now and it is allowing me to know this feeling again. Since track season has ended, I am able to get in my run of a few miles each day, and then ride 15–30 miles with the idea that I can train to ride 60–70 miles."
To qualify as a streaker, one must run at least a mile nonstop every day, and while three-time British Olympian Ron Hill claims a streak longer than Covert’s—he started his on December 20, 1964—he’s covered the required distance on crutches on at least one occasion, which doesn’t meet most people’s definition of running.
Come July 23, the new record-holding streaker—as recognized by the United States Running Streak Association—will be another 62-year-old California resident, Jon Sutherland, a friend and former high school rival of Covert’s who started his own streak on May 26, 1969, when Covert told him that he’d been running every day for almost a year.