By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first race of Philadelphia Marathon weekend is in the books. 2,000 runners filled the Ben Franklin Parkway early Saturday morning for an 8K race.
It’s the traditional Rothman 8K the day before the big marathon. 2,000 runners this year, including 71-year-old Lou Coppens from Warminster, Bucks County, who finished first in his age group at around 38 minutes.
“It makes you feel good that you’re trying your best and doing the best you can at this age,” Coppens said. “I’m lucky and thankful to God that he’s got us going all these years.”
Just a few years younger than Lou, 10-year-old Nikolas Toocheck from West Chester. His goal is to run marathons on every continent.
“I’ve run in Antarctica,” Toocheck said, “North America and Australia.”
He does this to raise money for coats for the less fortunate.
“I just feel so good that I can make a difference,” he said, “and give to the kids that don’t have as much as I have.”
And even though Toocheck has been around the world, he said there’s nothing like running so close to home.
Former Philadelphia Marathon winner Bill Rodgers was also there. He has done it all, but says he loves coming back to the City of Brotherly Love.
“I won Philadelphia years ago,” said Rodgers. “So it’s very exciting to come back and see how this race has grown and see the sport grow globally.”
Rodgers’ hall of fame resume includes four Boston Marathon wins, four in New York and the 1974 Philadelphia Marathon. You can throw in an appearance in the 1976 Olympics, as well. He said he can’t get enough of the sport, and has watched its evolution.
“It’s so competitive today” Rodgers said. “The athletes are stronger than ever. The knowledge of training is stronger than ever.”
As for those who come up to him, saying he’s inspired them to run, he said it’s quote “weird,” because as legendary as his career was, he always feels just like them.