Parents receive backlash for letting 6-year-old run marathon

Two Kentucky parents have come under fire on social media for running a marathon with their 6-year-old son. Kami and Ben Crawford posted on Instagram that their son, Rainier, ran The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati earlier this month, mentioning that at mile 20 “he was physically struggling and wanted to take a break and sit down every three minutes.”

In the Instagram post, the Crawfords said Rainier “was crying and we were moving slow,” so they promised him two packs of Pringles potato chips if he went through with it. “I had to promise him another sleeve to get him in the family photo at the finish line. I paid him today,” reads the Instagram post, which shows Rainier holding Pringles.

They have posted several times about the marathon and have garnered great attention and many critical comments. The Crawfords, however, stand by their decision to run the marathon with Rainier and his other children.

They said their five oldest children finished the race an hour before them, then waited at the finish line for their parents and Rainier, all crossing the race together at 8 hours and 35 minutes.

One commenter wrote: “Looks sad and exhausted. I can’t believe what people will do for likes.”

“This story was disturbing to read. Too young,” wrote another.

After their posts drew widespread attention, parents claimed Child Protective Services came to their home unannounced to interview their children after others reported abuse.

In a subsequent post, they defended their decision to run races with their children, saying that “in 9 years we have been awarded a total of 53 medals, mostly to the children”, and that Rainier begged to join them for a marathon.

They said that Rainier cried during the marathon, but he fell. They added that all the other members of his family have also cried during the races.

When asked for an interview, the Crawfords sent CBS News a “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet they had written about running a marathon with their 6-year-old son. They said that since their children started running, they have seen an increase in their happiness and health.

They said that Rainier was excited about the race and that the decision to participate was his. “Our 6-year-old son had over 2 adults providing full-time monitoring of his health, mood and safety at all times during a race. His mother has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and was a trained registered nurse,” reads in the FAQ sheet. “With our average finish time of over 8 hours, the marathon was completed at walking pace.”

They said that Rainier was asked several times if he wanted to stop, but it was very clear that he wanted to continue. Although they promised his son Pringles, it was because they thought there would be a snack table around mile 20, but there were no chips left when they arrived.

“I shared this moment on social media because it’s a minor tool we use to motivate kids and I thought it was a funny story that a lot of parents could relate to too,” the parents write. “It was by no means intended to be a complete race report or a summary of Rainier’s motivation for running.”

“Her crying and slowness of movement were the result of her emotional disappointment and standard marathon fatigue. He was not at all interested in stopping the marathon forever. His favorite flavor is sour cream and onion,” they said.

The Crawfords said most of the feedback they’ve received has been very supportive, but “there’s an elite group of runners who are using their big platforms to police everyone’s race, citing outdated research and innate rhetoric to prevent others from running.” enjoy”. “

On May 7, a week after the marathon, the Crawfords also wrote an open letter about letting their children run marathons, saying their “goal from the beginning has been to make running fun” and that “as kids They grow up, training for marathons is 100% elective. We’ve never emphasized competition.”

The Crawfords said it takes six to eight hours to complete the marathons and “take breaks on the playground, walk around, eat and drink whatever we want.”

“Recently, our parenting and family practices have been criticized for allowing our children to run marathons. People have called us neglectful, abusive, and ignorant. People claim and cite many credentials from trainers, experts, and doctors,” they write, adding that “People have notified government agencies to take our children away from us and have used their platforms to shame us into changing our parenting methods.”

In their letter, the parents cited a 2010 study that found that of 310 marathon runners ages 7 to 17 who ran the Twin Cities Marathon over a 26-year period, only 4 required post-race medical evaluations. “The relative risk of requiring acute medical care on race day was lower, but not statistically different, than adults who complete the race,” the researchers from the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University School of Medicine wrote. from Minnesota.

However, the Cleveland Clinic’s guide for young runners states that for children under 7, parents should look for short “fun runs” or runs between 1 and 2 miles or a 100-yard dash, while children ages 8 to 12 can safely participate in a 5 km (3.10 mile) race. It says older kids, ages 13 to 15, can safely attempt a 10K (6.2 miles) or a half marathon (13.1 miles) and kids ages 16 to 18 can run marathons, which usually have a requirement. Minimum age to start. .

This is not the first time that reports of children running long distances have sparked controversy. In 2013, reports of a 9-year-old boy from Pennsylvania running a marathon in Antarctica sparked debate. At the time, New Jersey Pediatric Sports Physician Steve Rice told CBS Philly that people under the age of 18 should not participate in the physically demanding race.

“With that hitting and banging, you risk damaging body parts. It just seems like you don’t need to ask a young person to do that. I mean, we have child labor laws; we try to limit what we kids do because we give ourselves away.” realize they’re just kids,” Rice said.

In 2019, Aiden Jaquez, 11, set a record to run a half marathon in all 50 states for four and a half years. He ran his first half marathon at age 6.

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