Crossing the finish line at a marathon is usually a momentous occasion, but it turned out to be the complete opposite for one family!
YouTubers Kami and Ben Crawford, plus their six children, participated in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati on Sunday. Although the race claimed to have an age minimum of 18, their 6-year-old son, Rainer Crawford, still joined his family for the 26-mile run. The little boy ended up completing the marathon in eight hours and 35 minutes. However, he did not cross the finish line without experiencing some challenges during that time.
According to his father on Instagram, Rainer “was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes.” And when they reached mile 20 to discover there were no snacks, the child broke down “crying” and was “moving slow.” As an incentive to keep running? Ben supposedly promised to get him “two sleeves” of Pringles afterward. Ch-ch-check out the post (below):
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Now, the parents have faced backlash for having Rainer in the marathon – with many social media users accusing them of child abuse and using their son for likes. Olympic runner Kara Goucher wrote on Twitter:
“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 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.”
Another Olympic marathon runner Lee Troop expressed concern for Rainer’s physical well-being, as well as called out the race organizers for allowing him to run:
“Race organizers allowing a 6 year old to run a marathon
Child stopping every 3mins after 20 miles, crying and emotionally distressed
Parents bribing him to finish & he’ll get Pringles
Parents seeing no issue in allowing this to happen
Everything about this is wrong!”
ABC News medical correspondent Dr. Alok Patel offered up some more worries to Good Morning America, saying:
“If a young child were to run a marathon, I’m worried about electrolyte abnormalities, nausea, vomiting, heatstroke, all these signs and symptoms that may not be that clear in a young child.”
In response to the controversy, Ben and Kami fired back at the allegations that they were being “irresponsible and even abusive” towards Rainer. They insisted in the post that they’ve never forced their children to run, and Rainer had been the one to beg to join them at the race:
“We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as feasible practically or emotionally. … 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.”
The pair also denied forcing their “kids to run for the clicks or the money,” saying:
“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.”
As for what went down during marathon day, they noted that “you cannot bribe a child to train hundreds of hours and run 26 miles through the heat for a can of pringles.” The two added:
“Yes, negotiation and incentivization 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.”
When someone asked about how Rainer was doing after the race, the family shared that he was “feeling great” and was interested in “running a half marathon” in the future.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Friday, Ben applauded his little one for finishing the run at all, saying how it was “pretty mind-blowing.” Kami also made it clear that they “really care about our kids’ emotional and physical health,” adding:
“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.”
The marathon organizers have since responded to the controversy. Iris Simpson Bush, the president and CEO of the race’s parent organization Pig Works, said in a statement:
“This decision was not made lightly. The father was determined to do the race with his young child regardless. The intent was to try to offer protection and support if they were on our course (Medical, Fluid and Replenishment). I assume full responsibility for the decision and accept that it was not the best course of action. Our requirement of 18+ for participation in the marathon will be strictly observed moving forward.”
But the drama did not end there…
The Crawfords revealed in an update on Friday evening that Child Protective Services came to their home and interviewed their children after the agency got “seven reports” from people they have not met. While six of them allegedly had been “unsubstantiated,” the last report accusing them of “physically dragging” Rainer after mile 13 and across the finish line forced CPS to come.
What are YOUR thoughts on this issue, Perezcious readers? Sound OFF in the comments (below).
[Image via Ben Crawford/Instagram]