LANCASTER -- It began in 1968 with a 15-mile run by Griffith Park and through the streets of nearby Burbank on a hot July afternoon that Mark Covert can remember like it was yesterday.

It ceremoniously concluded Tuesday with the final steps taken just outside Marauder Stadium on the Antelope Valley College campus surrounded by several friends, family members, student-athletes, coaches, former teammates and running enthusiasts from around the country.

Covert, 62, confirmed the end of his national-record streak of running at least one mile every day for 45 consecutive years by beginning his run at 7:03 a.m. and covering the required distance in a little more than 13 minutes, adding to a benchmark of consistency and longevity that ranks second in the world only to Great Britain's Ron Hill, whose standard spans more than 48 years.

"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 said. "Anybody who saw this run knows this has got to end before I really get hurt. This was the right time."

The streak spanned 16,437 days, according to the United States Running Streak Assn., and nearly 150,000 miles, with Covert surviving a broken foot, knee surgery, shoulder surgery, a kidney stone and a nagging back injury in order to continue his journey, although a midfoot collapse that will require reconstructive surgery in his right foot in the next year ultimately led him to reaching the decision.


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It produced a legacy that connected his running career at Burbank High, Valley College, Cal State Fullerton and in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials to his coaching tenure at Glendale Community College, L.A. Trade Tech College, Valley and since 1990 at AVC.

And it included a marriage to his wife Debi, the birth of four children -- three of whom were present Tuesday -- and a recent honor on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"When I look around here, I see a lot of kindness," Debi Covert said. "He's a very humble man and he doesn't do it for the recognition, but it's a huge, huge feat and it's meant so much to us as a family and to his friends."

Covert gained inspiration and purpose during his running career and throughout the streak from the lessons taught to him by Burbank coach Frank Kallem and Valley College coach Laszlo Tabori, who attended the event Tuesday.

"Some guys had the speed, but Mark would overcome them because of his stamina and endurance," Tabori said. "It wasn't about what we trained, it was about how we trained, and I knew Mark would become a great leader. He gives me credit, but I give him a lot of credit, too. We respect each other."

Covert's resolve, toughness and determination also inspired people from as far as Texas and Florida to take part in Tuesday's festivities.

Matthew Fisher, a 34-year-old software engineer from Austin who started his own running streak January 1, 2009, had never met Covert before.

Upon learning of the decision to end the streak, Fisher started following Covert's blog entries on the Web site www.markcovertnevermiss.com and decided to fly to California to see it conclude in person.

"It's just an honor to meet him," Fisher said. "I'm glad I made the choice to be here. It was really amazing to be part of it."

Mary Beth Koeth, a 31-year-old photographer and documentary filmmaker (www.marybethkoethphotography.com), is in the process of completing a project with Laura Lee Patterson Huttenbach entitled "Running with Raven" that chronicles the life of 62-year-old Robert "Raven" Kraft, a Miami Beach songwriter whose running streak spans more than 38 years and 100,000 miles.

She was also motivated to make the trip to Lancaster to interview Covert and Notre Dame cross country coach Jon Sutherland, who will take over the longest active streak in the country today from his former Valley College teammate. Sutherland, 62, trails Covert's streak by more than 300 days and would be in line to break the national record next May.

"He's my friend and I wanted to see the guy to go forever," Sutherland said. "Being here and seeing Laszlo and so many of these guys brings back a lot of great memories. We were really primitive in how we trained, but we learned how to work hard and that is something Mark has carried with him every day since. I still say when he won the (1970 NCAA Division II national cross country championship), that was the greatest accomplishment ever by a Valley runner."

Covert said he never continued the streak for praise or admiration, but used it as a reminder to himself, his family, his peers and the student-athletes he's coached about the value of commitment. In the aftermath of the streak, Covert said he will focus more time training on his bicycle in preparation for a 100-mile ride 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."

Debi Covert said Wednesday would be a very strange day for the household.

"It will be interesting. I'm going to get up at 4 a.m. and lock the doors so he can't get out," she said. "I've never known him not to run and his children have never known him not to run. I've never been with him when he hasn't run, but the streak was definitely the real deal. It's been an emotional past few months knowing this day was coming, but our entire family is very thankful for all the support Mark has received, not just now, but throughout the years."