Nikolas Toocheck: The 9-Year-Old Marathon Runner

Nikolas Toocheck may at first sight look like any other fourth-grader, but the things he’s done (and those he plans to do) are far from ordinary. He started off with simple 5k runs, and at just nine years old, the Pennsylvania boy ran his first marathon in Delaware. Now, he plans to go somewhere just a little more exotic—Antarctica.

On Feb. 25, he will run in the White Continent Marathon, and according to race organizers, he’s the youngest person to ever try. Nikolas is running the White Continent in order to raise awareness for his campaign “Running the World for Children”; he created it in order to raise money for Operation Warm, a non-profit organization that provides winter coats to US children in need.


Despite Nikolas’ success, there are many concerns about his charity runs. He’s only in 4th grade, and his body is still in early stages of development. To run enough miles to accomplish his goal is a strain on anyone’s body, let alone a small child’s. There’s also the cost to consider: running an Antarctica marathon isn’t cheap. The White Continent takes a $5,085 entry and travel fee; add in the cost of a plane ticket from Philadelphia to Punta Arenas, Argentina, and the cost is almost $6000.

Last year, Operation Warm provided new coats to 200,000 children in 40 states, and it was founded by Richard Sanford, Nikolas’ grandfather. Nikolas himself has helped the organization in many ways, from breaking open his own piggy bank to distributing coats. He says he’s learned that it’s important to help others, and that Operation Warm is good because it helps every child to have a winter coat when they need it.

Last summer, young Nikolas decided to combine his two great loves: Operation Warm and running. As part of his campaign, Nikolas wants to finish a marathon on each of the world’s seven continents; he plans to raise a dollar per step (up to a goal of $1 million). Despite his tender age, he’s ready and waiting for the next stage in his adventure. He even thinks that the actual running is the easiest part, and he’s really looking forward to meeting a penguin in Antarctica.

As Nikolas begins the next part of his goal, he keeps on viewing the long path ahead as a once in a lifetime journey in which he’s blessed to be able to participate. He explained it best when he said: “I get to do something I love (going for a fun run)…and help children at the same time. It’s awesome! Is there anything better?” To learn more about young Nikolas and his campaign Running the World for Children, and to make donations, visit Nik Runs the World today.

Operation Warm is one of the largest nonprofit providers of winter coats to needy children in the United States. The organization’s goal is that every child who needs one gets a winter coat, and that they’re healthy, able to get to school, and that they have self esteem. This winter, Operation Warm has already served over 200,000 kids; back in February of last year, they served their one millionth child.

Article supplied by Amy Elliott for The Poppy Run.

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