CINCINNATI (WJW) — The organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon are getting a lot of heat after a 6-year-old boy ran in the event on Sunday.
The minimum age for the 26.2-mile race in Cincinnati is 18 years old, but the Crawford family of Bellevue, Kentucky completed the race with their 6-year-old son in tow. It’s the first marathon the entire family of eight has run together.
Parents Ben and Kami Crawford, who document the family’s adventures on a YouTube channel, defended their decision and recognized their unconventional parenting methods in a lengthy Facebook post on Tuesday.
“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.
Kara Goucher, two-time Olympian and silver medalist at the 2007 World Championships, was among the experts who weighed in on the situation.
“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-old who is “struggling physically” does not realize they have the right to stop and should,” Goucher said on her verified Twitter account.
“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 wrote.
The Flying Pig Marathon released a vague statement on Tuesday:
“The Flying Pig Marathon takes the safety and security of all participants very seriously. We receive numerous requests for special accommodations each year and carefully evaluate each one. Our goal is to provide a positive race experience for all participants while supporting them along the course. The Flying Pig Marathon was founded on the ideal of hosting a world-class road race experience and will always strive to do so.”
WJW reached out to Pig Works president and CEO Iris Bush on Thursday for an updated statement and has not heard back.