Parents condemned for making son, 6, run MARATHON alongside them

Rainer Crawford, 6, of Bellevue, Kentucky, completed the Flying Pig Marathon with his parents, Ben and Kami Crawford.  It took him more than 8.5 hours

Parents of a six-year-old boy who recently completed a full-length marathon are being condemned for making the child run alongside them in the race and are being accused of bribing him to keep moving when he was struggling.

Runners must be 18 years old to participate in the Flying Pig Marathon, a 26.2-mile race in Cincinnati, Ohio.

But on Sunday, Rainer, a six-year-old from Bellevue, Kentucky, completed the entire race with his parents, Ben and Kami Crawford. It took him more than 8.5 hours.

The Crawfords, a family-of-eight, who chronicle their adventures on a YouTube Channel, have a prominent presence on social media, and once wrote a book about being the largest family to hike the Appalachian Trail. But this was their first marathon as a family.

The parents and race organizers, who said they were aware of the child participating, received swift backlash online after the race, with US Olympian Kara Goucher saying six is ​​too young for a marathon.

‘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 her verified Twitter account.

‘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, a two-time Olympian who competed in the 10,000 meters in Beijing in 2008 and as a marathoner in the 2012 London Games, went on to say: ‘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,’ she added

Rainer Crawford, 6, of Bellevue, Kentucky, completed the Flying Pig Marathon with his parents, Ben and Kami Crawford.  It took him more than 8.5 hours

Rainer Crawford, 6, of Bellevue, Kentucky, completed the Flying Pig Marathon with his parents, Ben and Kami Crawford. It took him more than 8.5 hours

Ben and Kami Crawford posted on Instagram that Rainer had been 'struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes'

Ben and Kami Crawford posted on Instagram that Rainer had been ‘struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes’

US marathoner Kara Goucher, shown competing at the Olympics in London in 2012, has slammed parents for forcing their son to compete in 26.2-mile race

US marathoner Kara Goucher, shown competing at the Olympics in London in 2012, has slammed parents for forcing their son to compete in 26.2-mile race

The child’s father posted on Instagram that Rainer had been ‘struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes.’

The post continued: ‘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 [of Pringles] if he kept moving.’

But the parents defended their decision in a lengthy Facebook post on Tuesday, as they addresses concerns and recognized their unconventional parenting methods.

‘We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as practically feasible or emotionally,’ the Crawford parents wrote.

‘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 time 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.’

The child's father posted on Instagram that Rainer had been 'struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes'

The child’s father posted on Instagram that Rainer had been ‘struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes’

Flying Pig Executive Director Iris Simpson Bush responded to the backlash in an open letter published Wednesday.

‘The intent was to try to offer protection and support if they were on our course (Medical, Fluids and Replenishment).’ the letter read. ‘Our decision was intended for some amount of safety and protection for the child. The family finished the race after the formal closure of the race course.’

Race organizers say they plan to enforce the age limits moving forward.

The parents and race organizers, who said they were aware of the child participating, received swift backlash online after the race

The parents and race organizers, who said they were aware of the child participating, received swift backlash online after the race

The Crawfords, a family of eight, who chronicle their adventures on a YouTube Channel, have a prominent presence on social media, finished the race as a family

The Crawfords, a family of eight, who chronicle their adventures on a YouTube Channel, have a prominent presence on social media, finished the race as a family

Crawford family responds to backlash after Flying Pig Marathon

On May 1 our family of 8 finished an entire 26.2 mile marathon. This is the first marathon our entire family has run together. Our 5 older kids waited for over an hour at mile 25 and after 8 hours and 35 minutes we all crossed the finish line together. After 2 days celebrating with friends, how we spent our day has got a lot of attention from some who are accusing us of being irresponsible and even abusive. To that end I’d like to lay out a few facts for the public conversation.

1. We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as practically feasible 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 time 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Finally, no single post is meant to capture the full scope of our parenting methods or what happened on marathon day. They capture one moment or feeling. You cannot bribe a child to train hundreds of hours and run 26 miles through the heat for a can of pringles. If you can’t see this you are lazy or not listening. We have hundreds of hours of video that detail the process we use for running and it’s about as far from coercion or force as it comes. Yes, negotiation and incentive are parenting methods we use but these are used sparingly with care.

Our parenting methods are unconventional but we do not think accusations or arguments with incorrect facts are helpful.

We’re thankful to those who supported us on race day. It was an incredible experience and we can’t wait to share more.

Ben & Kami

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