While a typical 9-year-old’s bucket list might include video game supremacy or Disney World, Nikolas Toocheck is aiming higher. "Wouldn't it be cool if I could run a marathon on every continent?" he asked his mom. And thus began the young runner’s epic odyssey, a mission that will take him to Antarctica this weekend to run in his second marathon.
"Nikolas is a 9-year-old boy who loves to run. He sort of came out running," his mother, Tara Toocheck, told ABC News. "He's always on the move. He's a bright, happy, adventurous, fun kid who decided at around age 6 to run some races and since then he has run quite a few with his dad."
His dad, Daniel Toocheck, is a seasoned runner with about a dozen marathons under his belt. Nikolas started running with his father and loved it. "I just think running is so fun, and one of the things I like about it is running with my dad," Nikolas said.
The 72-pound, 4-foot-6-inch athlete finished his first marathon in Delaware last December in just under six hours. He runs his races to earn money for Operation Warm, a charity started by his grandfather that provides coats for children in need.
When the globe-hopping idea was hatched, the family set out to ascertain the safety of his quest by subjecting Nikolas to a barrage of specialists including pediatric cardiologists and sports medicine experts. He received a green light from all; training and recovery regimens were meticulously planned to ensure the good health of his young body.
Nikolas and his father will be running the race together. No special ice gear will be required as the race will take place along the 2 percent of the continent not covered in ice. And since it's summer in Antarctica now, the temperatures are not expected to drop below the mid-30s, actually warmer than Nikolas’ home state of Pennsylvania.
Nikolas enthused, "I just think it’s really cool, and I’m really excited, and I want to meet a penguin!”
Nikolas talks to ABC News in the video below:
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