Parents Of 6-Year-Old Who Ran Marathon Say They Are Being Targeted By ‘Witch Hunt’ After CPS Visits Home

Photo: Instagram
6-year-old runs marathon

A family who were blasted on social media for allowing their 6-year-old son to run a marathon are now claiming they're the subject of a "witch hunt."

Ben and Kami Crawford, a Kentucky-based couple that runs a YouTube channel with over 47,000 subscribers, received heavy backlash following a May 1 Instagram post.

Now, they say their critics even called CPS to visit their home.

The Crawford family were criticized for posting about their 6-year-old's marathon.

In the post, they say that their 6-year-old son, Rainier, struggled to finish a 10K marathon and was upset that no snacks were being given out at the twentieth mile, as they expected, so they offered to buy him snacks the next day if he finished the marathon.

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“On the marathon course, Rainier knew they usually hand out Pringles around mile 20,” the Crawfords said in the caption.

“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.”

Leaders in the running community slammed the Crawfords for allowing their son to compete in a marathon at such a young age.

American Olympic marathon runner Kara Goucher indirectly called out the parents in a series of tweets on Wednesday, in which she said that training in marathons that young will hurt a child’s development.

“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. “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.”

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Australian Olympic marathon runner Lee Troop also tweeted about the incident on the same day. In the tweet, he criticized the Crawfords for “bribing” their son to finish the race, as well as the event organizers for allowing him to participate in the first place. 

“Everything about this is wrong!” Troop said.

The Crawfords responded to the backlash with a statement on Instagram.

The statement says that CPS showed up at their house unannounced the day before. They also called out the two Olympians and others for creating a “witch hunt” against them.

“When world-class Olympians with international stages like Kara Goucher & Lee Troop use their large platforms to broadcast absolute moral imperatives without nuance they need to take responsibility when the public tries to enforce these moral imperatives,” the Crawfords said.

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“Calling a government agency to have children taken away from someone because you don’t like them or something doesn’t ‘feel right’ or because you can not conceive of a 6-year-old that enjoys running, is morally reprehensible and a gross misuse of our governmental systems put in place to protect our children.”

Goucher responded to the statement with another series of tweets. She said that she had spoken to Ben Crawford over email in a conversation that she characterized as “respectful.”

She added that while she disagrees with the parents' decision to have their kid run a marathon, she does believe that the child is “deeply loved and cared for.”

The website for Flying Pigs Marathon says that the marathon is open to runners 18 and above. The marathon’s executive director, Iris Simpson bush, said in a statement that she takes full responsibility for allowing Rainier to compete in the race and that the age requirement will be strictly enforced in the future.

In the same statement, Bush said that the Crawfords had previously competed in the marathon as “bandits,” meaning that they did not pay the entrance fee.

“The father was determined to do the race with his young child regardless.  They had done it as bandits, in prior years, before we had any knowledge of it and we knew he was likely to do so again.”

Ben Crawford denied the “bandit” claims in an Instagram statement.

“We have worked with numerous race directors across numerous races/states to do things as officially as possible and register every family member allowed,” Ben Crawford said.

“When they are not being intimidated by public scrutiny every race director has been very pleasant and accommodating.”

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Jonathan Alfano is a writer who focuses on news and entertainment topics. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his content.

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