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7-Year-Old Runs Most of the Flying Pig Marathon (For The Second Year Running)

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Most people are well aware that the number of children who are categorized as overweight or obese has increased to very concerning rates over the past decade. 

However, although it is certainly detrimental for youth to be sedentary, there are also concerns about children who engage in an excessive amount of exercise at a young age.

While running has many benefits for young children, almost all fitness professionals and pediatricians would agree that running a full marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers) is much too far for a young child.

For this reason, almost every marathon has a minimum age requirement for participants of 18 years old.

Last year, at the 2022 Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ben and Kami Crawford, a married couple, came under heat and widespread criticism when they allowed their six-year-old son to run the entire marathon with them.

The Crawford family, who are from Bellevue, Kentucky, had eight family members in the race.

The group ran together at a leisurely pace, finishing the full 26.2-mile marathon in 8 hours and 35 minutes.

Among the Crawford clan in the 2022 Flying Pig Marathon were two children under the age of 12, the youngest being six-year-old Rainier Crawford.

In response to the outpouring of concern from the running community, Rainier Crawford’s participation in the full marathon sparked the race organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon to establish a minimum age requirement for the marathon this year.

This is standard practice for most marathons, in order to prevent children who are too young to safely be running a marathon distance from trying to join a parent or caregiver and take on the marathon distance before physically and mentally mature enough to do so.

The new Flying Pig Marathon rules require that participants be at least 18 years old on race day to enter the full marathon and at least age 14 to enter the half-marathon (13.1 miles). 

With a waiver and certain additional requirements, younger participants can potentially enter one of the races.

However, the new marathon age restrictions did not stop the Crawford family from allowing 7-year-old Rainier Crawford from running seemingly the majority of the marathon again this year in the 2023 Flying Pig Marathon.

Even worse, since Rainier is too young to officially register, his parents allowed him to bandit the marathon (run unregistered).

First of all, any time a runner jumps into a race as a bandit, it is problematic.

Most marathon courses are only designed to safely accommodate a certain number of runners, and the number of resources such as water, medical personnel, and volunteers directing traffic or protecting the runners on the course are established based on the number of registered participants.

Registered participants have to pay to run a race, and entry fees go towards all of the costs of putting on the event and making sure that it is safe and fair for every runner.

Banditing a race is disrespectful to all of the other registered runners and can pose more significant safety issues beyond just being of poor form.

However, even if we set aside the blatant disregard for the rules of running a race by allowing their child to run the marathon unregistered, the fact that the couple allowed their seven-year-old child to run most of the 26.2 miles again is concerning in its own right.

Although pictures on the Instagram account of parents Kami and Ben Crawford (@fightfortogether) show young runner Rainier smiling, the caption hints at points where the child might not have been enjoying the race, particularly because it was raining.

“Rainier complained about water in his eyes but we held his hand this whole time…The hardest part in this time was navigating the rain with Rainier. Being wet and facing constant downpour was wearing on him and he wanted to take constant breaks under trees.”

However, the same post also makes note that the seven-year-old marathon runner seemed to really be enjoying himself:

“It was really fun watching how much Rainier had changed since last year’s race. He was much more confident and seemed very steady in his emotions. He knew what to expect and did not seem afraid at all (besides some moments in the rain). He never once mentioned the desire to quit or any regret for running. In fact, he talked about his desire for future, longer races numerous times.

The post continues:

He was able to monitor and communicate his hydration, legs, and need for breaks much more assertively. At times when he felt worn out he requested a hug from me and we stopped and hugged at least 5 or 6 times on the course.”

As might be expected, comments on the Crawfords’ posts are mixed. Some people find the family’s commitment to run together an inspiration; others have concerns about having a child so young running a marathon.

The Crawford family made a documentary about the six-year-old marathon runner called Marathon Boy, which you can watch here.

To learn more about how far is too far for children to be running, check out our article about safe running distances for children here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

2 thoughts on “7-Year-Old Runs Most of the Flying Pig Marathon (For The Second Year Running)”

  1. I wonder if any professionals have sat with these parents to educate them on why running these distances is bad for their child’s growth and development. I don’t know about the laws in the US but I’m the UK any child under 12 in a court of law is not able to give consent or make their own decisions due to lack of maturity and understanding. Therefore, even if their son chose to run it, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best thing for him.

    As an ultra runner myself, clearly he show amazing potential but surely there are ways to nurture this safely at an age appropriate level. As a parent I would worry about the long term effects on this child’s body.

    Reply

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