Coach Mike Mead

July 2013

Running Streaks

“Eighty-percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

We in America appreciate the accomplishments of those who strive in their given talents. We tout students for making straight A’s in school and those who have perfect attendance.

In sports, we admire achievements such as Cal Ripken, Jr. for his baseball talents that included an unthinkable streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. How about Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak? Then there is longevity like the Kentucky Derby which dates back to 1875.

In running, the Boston Marathon has been around since 1897. By comparison, the Peachtree Road Race began in 1970 and marks its 43rd running on July 4th. The race recognizes a small group of runners every year who have run in every Peachtree since 1970.

Distance running is about streaks like Stefaan Engels who has run 365 marathons on consecutive days.

Perhaps the greatest running streak of them all is older than the Peachtree Road Race and ironically will be voluntarily ending this month. On July 23, 1968, Mark Covert started a streak that is still going – run at least a mile a day. However, come this July 23 Covert will end his amazing string of consecutive running days. Technically, Covert has the second-longest streak behind the great British runner Ron Hill, but Covert’s streak is America’s longest.

I’ve mentioned Covert in one of my previous columns (August 2004) and have had the pleasure meeting him a time or two over the years. Three of his runners from Antelope Valley College (two-year school) have run for us at Clayton State and many of them will be with Covert in Palmdale, Calif. when he ends his streak on July 23.

When Covert began this feat, he was a successful collegiate runner for NCAA Division II Cal State Fullerton. He won the D-II cross country individual title in 1970 and finished seventh in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. According to Wikipedia, by virtue of his 1972 Trials finish, he has the distinction of being the first to cross a finish line in a pair of Nikes.

During the course of “The Streak,” Covert has averaged over 10 miles a day. There have been days Covert faced obvious challenges maintaining the streak from knee surgery to back problems.

“I've surrounded myself with great doctors over the years that have kind of bought into this craziness,” Covert said in a CNN interview in 2012. “They understand if they told me 'No' I'd go out and try to do it anyway.”

Like Ripken, Jr., Covert is ending his streak on his terms. Age has a way of changing one’s prospective and Covert believes the time has come to end his feat which I’m sure have beaten up his feet!

I am in awe of the accomplishment that Covert has achieved in something as simple as getting out and running everyday for the past 45 years! Think of the dedication and determination it took in maintaining this streak – that’s the 20-percent that the Woody Allen quote doesn’t cover regarding success.

Many of us go through life showing up or going through the motions. It’s folks like Mark Covert who make the most of their journey by making the most of that 20-percent.

Mark, enjoy the finish!