Apr 28, 2022 - News

Meet the 90-year-old runner set to make history in Philly this weekend

Herbert Thal

Herbert Thal competing in the 2021 Broad Street Run. Courtesy of Thal

As soon as Herbert Thal takes his first step in Philadelphia's Broad Street Run this weekend, the 90 year old will have made history.

What's happening: Thal, who's gearing up for his ninth Broad Street Run this Sunday, is set to become the oldest person to ever run the annual 10-miler.

  • His motivation? "It's the challenge," he tells Axios.

The big picture: The Broad Street Run is the nation's largest 10-mile race, with around 27,500 runners expected to participate this year.

  • The event, which began in 1980, was postponed to the fall last year due to the pandemic after going virtual in 2020.

How it started: Thal got interested in running at the age of 55. "I just felt like I was not being active enough," he recalls.

  • Thal, who was an electrical engineer with General Electric for decades, began training and competing in local 5K and 10K races.
  • He started running marathons at the age of 72, which he continued for a dozen years. He's competed in 18 total.

The intrigue: Thal credits his diet — which includes drinking lots of milk and avoiding salt and alcohol — for keeping him running as a nonagenarian. But whether that's his secret to success is open to debate.

  • "What I eat, that's a matter of absolute fact. Whether or not it helps, that's, to some extent, speculation," he says.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that around 27,500 runners are expected to participate in the Broad Street Run this year, not 35,000.


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