ASHLAND, Ky. – Gary Coovert’s goal of running a marathon before he turned 40 has become a passion in his life.

Coovert, who works for State Farm Insurance, has completed 14 marathons since running that first one in 2009.

“I have always considered the ability to run as a gift from God. For most of my junior high and high school years I competed as a sprinter and as I got older and slower progressing to distance running felt natural.

“In 2009, I got the wild hair to run a marathon before I turned 40 and got hooked on running that distance,” he said.

Coovert is one of nine runners who have chosen to run for Team Amy For Africa this race season. Each has committed to fundraising at least $100 by getting friends and family to sponsor their endeavors.

“My desire to run for Team AFA stems from getting to know Mark (Maynard), Chris (Compston), and Amy (Compston) and their hearts for Africa,” he said. “Their authenticity and compassion moved my soul.  I plan on running the Air Force Marathon and the Marshall Marathon this fall for Team AFA.”

Coovert, who is married and has two children, is a committed Christian. This isn’t the first time he has used the gift of running for God.

“At one event I met Chris Gillespie from TEAM 413 and talked about running and ministry and he suggested I run in one his race shirts with Philippians 4:13 printed on the back,” Coovert said.. “Running in that shirt not only reminded me of my commitment to Christ, but in every event other runners would comment on the encouragement they received from a running shirt with a simple verse.”

Coovert still has more running goals that he hopes to reach in God’s time.

“If it is in God’s plan for me and my training and health hold up over the summer, I hope to run a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying) time in the fall.  My running verses are Hebrews 12:1-2.”

Team AFA co-founder Amy Compston said she is proud to have Coovert as part of the organization’s racing team.

“We love Gary and his commitment to Christ,” Amy said. “He has been a great friend to Amy For Africa since we started this mission.”