9-year-old to run marathon in Antarctica

February 19, 2013 5:16:10 AM PST
There are plenty of 9-year-olds who go out running with their dads, maybe a few who run marathons. But there is only one 9-year-old we know of who is about to run a marathon in Antarctica.

Meet Nikolas Toocheck, who lives near West Chester.

"I just think it's really cool and I'm really excited and I want to meet a penguin," Nikolas said.

Nikolas says he has been running seriously since he was six.

He ran his first marathon in Delaware two months ago.

The 9-year-old enjoys skating, hockey and playing baseball, but it is his stated goal to run a marathon on every one of the seven continents that makes even the most ambitious of us feel like slackers.

His dad, a doctor and marathoner, says Nik has always been goal oriented.

"In the last couple of years, I don't think he's missed one day of running," Daniel Toocheck said.

But is it safe for a growing kid to take up long distance running? Could it cause long term injury?

"We've had pediatric cardiologists look at him, test him, pediatric sports medicine doctors at CHOP, making sure that his training regimen is a cautious one," Tara Toocheck, Nik's mother, said.

Nikolas has his own website and fundraising mission. Every dollar raised is to go to Operation Warm, a charity founded 15 years ago by his grandfather, which provides coats for impoverished children.

His big sister, Thea, concedes that like many little brothers, hers can sometimes be a pest - but she's really very proud.

"I think it is really cool what he is doing and that he is helping other kids his age," Thea said.

Nikolas and his dad leave for Antarctica Friday, the race is Monday, and the expected temperature is about 35 degrees.

Remember it is summer there.

LINK: http://www.nikrunstheworld.com/