A six-year-old boy whose parents were slammed for letting him run a marathon has admitted it was ‘hard’ and he even ‘cried.’

Rainer Crawford from Bellevue, Kentucky, said sometimes during training ‘I falled’ but added ‘sometimes it was like normal’.

The youngster completed the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, in eight hours and 35 minutes last weekend.

His father Ben revealed the feat on his Instagram earlier this week and admitted the boy ‘physically struggled’ and had to be bribed with Pringles to keep going.

But he was met with a volley of criticism – including by former US Olympian Kara Goucher – for letting someone so young compete.

Ben defended himself today as he appeared on national television but said ‘watching his little body’ was ‘pretty mind-blowing.’

Meanwhile race officials also fired back at criticism, bosses saying they let the boy run because they could offer ‘support.’ 

Rainer Crawford, six, of Bellevue, Kentucky, ran the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, in eight hours and 35 minutes. The six-year-old said he ‘falled [sic] sometimes’ but he ran normally and that ‘training is like hard’

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’

Rainer told Good Morning America: ‘Some of the training is like hard, but I falled [sic] sometimes, but sometimes, when I did one, it was like, normal.’

Ben added: ‘I didn’t know if he was going to be able to do it. To be able to run alongside of him and to watch his little body, it’s pretty mind-blowing.’

Race officials have also received a lot of slack for allowing such a young boy to run such a grueling race.

But CEO of Pig Works, the race’s parent company, Iris Simpson Bush, said they had the intention of trying to ‘offer protection and support if they were on our course.’

She said: ‘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 course.’

She also revealed the family had entered the race a ‘bandits’ – participating without officially being registered – in years prior ‘before we had any knowledge of it and we knew he was likely to do so again.’

Pig Works, the race's parent company, said the family had entered the race as 'bandits' in years prior and that they had the intention of providing 'protection and support' to Rainer

Pig Works, the race’s parent company, said the family had entered the race as ‘bandits’ in years prior and that they had the intention of providing ‘protection and support’ to Rainer 

Bush also said the race will only allow those 18 years and older to enter the race going forward, as was the policy beforehand. She also said she accepted ‘full responsibility for the decision’ and accepted that it was ‘not the best course of action.’

The minimum age for the 26.2-mile race in Cincinnati is 18 years old, 14 years old to run in the half marathon, and 12 years old to run in the 10K.

Rainer completed the entire race with his parents, Ben and Kami Crawford, alongside his other siblings and the family has also received a lot of slack for pushing the little boy so hard.

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.

US Olympian Kara Goucher lashed out at the family, saying six is too young for a marathon. 

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

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

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 Olympians slammed the parents, saying that 'a six year [old] who is "struggling physically" does not realize they have the right to stop and should...I promise you this is not good for a child'

The Olympians slammed the parents, saying that ‘a six year [old] who is ‘struggling physically’ does not realize they have the right to stop and should…I promise you this is not good for a child’ 

Children who run marathons can damage their bones due to huge shock from hitting the ground repeatedly, experts say

Children who run marathons could damage their bones, according to scientific literature.

Medical advice on whether to allow children to run marathons is divided, although races normally block non-adults from entering.

Some studies warn children are less able to absorb the shocks from the repeat impacts on bones due to running because they are smaller.

This may leave them at greater risk of damaging their bones, a paper published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2010 says.

Other research suggests youngsters who suffer repeated impact on their joins could separate their growth plates — areas where new bone is growing.

This has been seen in child gymnasts. Most recover, although some can be left with life-long damage to the affected bones.

Some experts caution, however, that the medical impacts of allowing children to run long distances are still largely unknown because of a lack of research.

Dr Cordelia Carter, a pediatric orthopedic sports surgeon at Yale University, previously told The Atlantic that parents should ‘use common sense’.

‘If running starts to hurt, you need to stop,’ she said.

‘But to definitively answer that question, we need to understand more about how kids physiologically respond to distance running.’

‘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 Twitter.

‘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.’ 

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. 

Experts told Good Morning America that Rainer’s growth plates and tissues aren’t fully developed by his young age and extreme activities – such as a marathon – could be potentially dangerous to children. 

‘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,’ Dr. Alok Patel told Good Morning America. 

The child’s father had also revealed on Instagram that Rainer wanted to ‘take a break and sit every three minutes’ and was struggling to hit the 20 mile mark. 

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.’ 

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 feasible practically 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 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 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’

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 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.

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 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.

Ben & Kami

 



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