The boy's parents have responded to claims that they were "irresponsible and even abusive."
The decision of a 6-year-old boy's parents who let him run a full marathon has received tons of backlash. Rainier Crawford joined his parents Ben and Kami Crawford and five older siblings to participate in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. The race took the child eight hours and 35 minutes to complete. But according to a post on the family’s Instagram, Rainier was “crying” and “struggling physically” towards the end. Ben Crawford wrote that Rainier "wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes." Rainier knew they usually hand out Pringles around mile 20, his father wrote, adding, "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."
The comments section was filled with many people slamming the parents. One person wrote: Parent to parent- this is fucked up. What made you think this is a good idea? And now exploiting your kid for likes? Another shared: He doesn’t even know how far 26.2 miles really is! We train for years to get to the point of running a marathon. I wonder how many 20 milers he had on his training plan. A third commented: I ran this marathon, and many of us seasoned runners agreed the conditions were extremely challenging. To force a child to run that distance in those conditions, and all for Instagram likes?? That is child abuse.
Several professional runners also expressed concern including Olympic runner Kara Goucher who tweeted: 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. 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.
Parents Ben and Kami Crawford have since addressed allegations that they were "irresponsible and even abusive."
"We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as feasible practically or emotionally," they wrote in a lengthy post. "This year after begging to join us we allowed our 6 year old to train and attempt it. 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 added.
"Our videos make on average $10-$30 a day. It barely pays for the equipment," they wrote about their YouTube videos. "We go to great lengths to prioritize our kids' health and experience of the day over sharing it to anyone else." And as for "what happened on marathon day," the family wrote that "you cannot bribe a child to train hundreds of hours and run 26 miles through the heat for a can of pringles." Rainier's dad told GMA the fact that his son was able to finish the race was "pretty mind-blowing."
"We really care about our kids' emotional and physical health," added the boy's mom. "But we also care about their agency and if they want to do something, we, you know, assess the risks and figure out if it's okay."