Parents of 6-year-old boy made to run marathon are criticised - Women's Running

Parents of 6-year-old boy made to run marathon are criticised

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  May 10, 2022

The parents of a six-year-old boy who was made to run a marathon in Ohio have received backlash, but continue to defend their decision

Photo: @fightfortogether

Influencer parents Kami and Ben Crawford have come under fire on social media, as well as mainstream media outlets, for running a marathon with their six-year-old son on 1 May. The YouTubers, who go by Fight for Together on their social channels, took part in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, along with six of their children including youngest boy Rainier, crossing the finish line together in 8 hours and 35 minutes.

Ben Crawford admitted in an Instagram post last week that Rainier had cried during the marathon: “he was struggling mentally and physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes”. He went on to state that he’d promised Rainier packs of Pringles if he kept moving, and even had to promise him a pack to take part in their family picture at the race finish line. “I paid him off,” Ben told his followers.

Following backlash from social media users who were shocked by the posts documenting Rainer’s run, Kami and Ben took to their channels to defend their decision to allow him to race, penning a long open letter about allowing their children to run marathons. In the letter, the parents cite various sources supporting a level of ambiguity around the age at which children may start taking part in long-distance running and suggesting that there is no evidence that there are associated risk factors for children. They also state that marathons have always been an ‘optional activity’ for their children.

Responses from critics have varied from disapproving Tweets to reports to child protection services. According to Kami and Ben, US Child Protective Services visited their house and interviewed the family for over an hour.

Olympian Kara Goucher publicly shared her thoughts on the situation on Twitter, explaining that a child “cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically”.

Currently, race regulations state that participants in the Flying Pig Marathon must be aged 18 or over. When questioned about this, organisers argued that Ben Crawford was “determined to do the race with his young child regardless” and that by allowing Rainier to participate they could ensure he was provided with “medical, fluid and replenishment” support.

Organisers also released a statement claiming that the family had entered the marathon in previous years as ‘bandits’ (unregistered, unpaid runners) and that they feared they would do the same again if they didn’t allow them to participate. The Crawfords claim they have always paid for race entry have rejected the use of the term ‘bandits’ to refer to their children running alongside them, saying: “you don’t own the streets and you don’t own running”.

The full open letter from the Crawford family about allowing their children to participate in marathons can be found on their social media pages.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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