Mark Robert Conover (May 28, 1960 – April 6, 2022) was an American long distance runner and coach. He was born in Contra Costa County, California.[1] He is most famous for his unexpected strategic victory at the 1988 United States Olympic Trials marathon,[2] qualifying him for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where he was a member of the U.S. Team. The winning time of 2:12:26 at the Olympic trials was his personal best.[3]

Conover showed his potential running for Miramonte High School in Orinda, California, finishing 5th at the CIF California State Meet in the 2 mile behind Jeff Nelson[4] just a year before Nelson would set the record in the event which would hold for almost 30 years.

He then went on to Humboldt State University, where he became the 1981 NCAA Division II Cross Country Champion. In 1993, he was inducted into the Humboldt State University Hall of Fame.[5]

1984 was his first Olympic Trials, finishing 9th in a qualifying heat of the 10,000 metres. And four years after his 1988 victory, he returned to the marathon to finish 10th in 1992.[2]

His time as a professional runner was cut short in 1993 by a two-year battle with Hodgkin’s disease. Professional internships that developed into planning jobs in San Luis Obispo County had him training in the area. He began as an assistant coach at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In 2009 he was named director of track and field and cross country for the university.[5] Conover led his teams to Big West Conference women's titles in 2012 and 2013 and men's titles in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Conover died on April 6, 2022, after battling cancer.[6] He was 61.


  1. ^ Mark Conover. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2019-12-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Mark Conover at Sports Reference
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-11-22.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "Track and Field Coaches".
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-26. Retrieved 2015-05-26.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)