Kentucky parents make son, 6, run 26.2 mile MARATHON even as he 'struggled physically, cried'
The parents of a six-year-old child who allowed him to run a marathon alongside them in Cincinnati, Ohio, are now facing the heat online. Participants are required to be 18 years old to participate in the Flying Pig Marathon, a 26.2-mile race. Parents Ben and Kami Crawford were later criticized and accused of bribing him to keep moving despite admitting that he was "struggling physically".
Last week, Rainer, a six-year-old from Bellevue, Kentucky, completed the entire race with his parents in more than 8.5 hours. The Crawfords are a family of eight who chronicle their adventures on a YouTube Channel. They have even written a book about being the largest family to hike the Appalachian Trail. This was, however, their first marathon as a family.
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The race organizers were reportedly aware of the child's participation. When they posted this family feat online, they were met with a lot of backlash on social media. The parents received flak for their actions, including from Olympian Kara Goucher. "I don't know who needs to hear this but a six year old cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically," Goucher said on Twitter. "A six year old does not understand what embracing misery is. A six year who is "struggling physically" does not realize they have the right to stop and should."
I don't know who needs to hear this but a six year old cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically. A six year old does not understand what embracing misery is. A six year who is "struggling physically" does not realize they have the right to stop and should.— Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) May 4, 2022
"I'm not questioning motivation or saying it is bad parenting. But as an Olympic athlete, I promise you this is not good for the child. Children are children. Let them run around, but as the parent you need to protect their growing bodies and their young minds," Goucher, a two-time Olympian who competed in the 10,000 meters in Beijing in 2008 and as a marathoner in the 2012 London Games, added.
I'm not questioning motivation or saying it is bad parenting. But as an Olympic athlete, I promise you this is not good for the child. Children are children. Let them run around, but as the parent you need to protect their growing bodies and their young minds.— Kara Goucher (@karagoucher) May 4, 2022
After the marathon, the child's parents admitted on Instagram that Rainer "been 'struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes." "On the marathon course, Rainier knew they usually hand out Pringles around mile 20. He was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes. After 7 hours, we finally got to mile 20 and only to find an abandoned table and empty boxes. He was crying and we were moving slow so I told him I'd buy him two sleeves if he kept moving. I had to promise him another sleeve to get him in the family pic at the finish line. Today I paid him off," they wrote.
However, they were widely criticized in the comment section of the post. "This is so sad. Desperate for attention so you risk your child’s long term musculoskeletal health. Put him in a fun run or maybe a kids 5k. Let him learn running is to enjoy. Healthy kids running series is a great organization. This is awful," one user wrote. One user commented, "He looks sad & exhausted. I cannot believe what people will do for likes," while another said, "What the heck is wrong with you????? As a medical professional you could have killed this kid!!! The lack of common sense and empathy …. I’m just shocked you think this was okay???? Shame on you."
Following the backlash, the parents defended their decision in a Facebook post. "We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as feasible practically or emotionally. We have given all of our kids the option for every race. Last year two kids ran it without us. In 9 years we have been awarded a total of 53 medals - mostly to the kids. This year after begging to join us we allowed our 6 year old to train and attempt it. Both parents gave him a 50/50 chance of completing it and were ready to pull the plug at any moment if he requested it or if we viewed his safety at risk. We asked him numerous times if he wanted to stop and he was VERY clear that his preference was to continue. We did not see any sign of heat exhaustion or dehydration and honored his request to keep on going," they wrote.
"Yes there were tears. He had a fall and every single member of our family has cried during marathons. These experiences were very limited compared to what has been reported and despite the incredible physical and emotional difficulty of running a marathon the amount of his crying is comparable to what we would have experienced had we stayed home on a Sunday morning. Many people are inaccurately reporting that people saw him for the "entire" or "majority" of the race crying and that there are numerous witnesses. With our finishing time this is impossible as we finished the last 5 miles predominately alone and most people's experience with us was in a one time passing of 30 seconds. Those making these confident and absolute assertions do not have any evidence. We have hours of video footage and images that will be released that depict his emotional state very clearly," they added.
The parents continued, "For those that claim we force our kids to run for the clicks or the money, these claims are unsubstantiated. We've been running before the clicks and our videos make on average $10-$30 a day. It barely pays for the equipment. We go to great lengths to prioritize our kids' health and experience of the day over sharing it to anyone else. Communicating these stories is a passion project that we do with our children's cooperation and permission," adding, "Our parenting methods are unconventional but we do not think accusations or arguments with incorrect facts are helpful."