You know, there have been a lot of headlines lately that have made me scrunch up my brow and mutter, “WTF!?” under my breath, but this one might take the cake.
A family is making headlines for allowing their six-year-old child to run a full marathon. That’s 26.2 miles.
And as you can imagine, the internet has a thing or two to say about it.
Kami and Ben Crawford signed up their family of six kids to run the full marathon called the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati.
The family team ran the entire course and finished the race, including six-year-old Rainer Crawford, in 8 hours and 35 minutes.
Apparently, to celebrate, they posted an image of Rainer on Instagram looking excited as he holds a package of Pringles chips.
The caption is a confusing mesh of what appears to be pride…and maybe bribery?
“On the marathon course, Rainier knew they usually hand out Pringles around mile 20.
He was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes. 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 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 post reads.
As you can imagine, there has been plenty of uproar over letting a child of this age run a marathon.
“This is so sad. Desperate for attention so you risk your child’s long-term musculoskeletal health. Put him in a fun run or maybe a kids 5k. Let him learn running is to enjoy. Healthy kids running series is a great organization. This is awful.”
@fightfortogether, the Crawford family Instagram account, replied, “@tracyrunsmountains We have researched the topic of long distance running on children thoroughly and there is no proof of compromised musculoskeletal health.”
But the family’s response did not pass muster.
Immediately, others chimed in noting that there is a lack of research that supports a child as young as six running a marathon because it’s not a fabulous idea.
Typically, kids under 16 are not allowed to run a full-length marathon because of health concerns.
But as the National Library of Medicine points out, there is very little data on young runners period.
They note that young children should be allowed to participate in training “as long as their social, academic, psychological, and psychological development is not disrupted.”
Furthermore, they say that more studies need to be done before anyone can say just how dangerous running a marathon can be for a still-developing body.
Kara Goucher, a celebrated American long-distance runner, and Olympic medalist waded into the fray and posted her hot take on Twitter.
“A six-year-old does not understand what embracing misery is. A six-year-old who is “struggling physically” does not realize they have the right to stop and should.”
The Crawford’s daughter, Memory, took issue with the public Tweet and shot back on Instagram defending her parents to allow her little brother to run the marathon.
“When I ran my first marathon I was a few months older than my younger brother Rainier is currently. I am 15 now. And I would like to personally tell you that I WAS able to ‘fathom’ what the marathon would do to me physically. I was aware of my own body and needs at the time. It was my choice and my choice only. Running my first marathon at that age was one of the most empowering and beautiful experiences I had ever had,” her letter read in part.