CINCINNATI — The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati is facing backlash on social media after addressing claims that a 6-year-old boy ran the full marathon.
A family of eight completed the full Flying Pig marathon on Sunday together, according to a father's post on Instagram. The youngest family member is 6.
“This is the first marathon our entire family has run together," the father said. "Our five older kids waited for over an hour at mile 25 and after 8 hours and 35 minutes we all crossed the finish line together.”
The father said his 6-year-old son made it to mile 20 after 7 hours.
“He was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes,” the father said.
On the Flying Pig's website, it states "marathon participants need to be 18 years of age on race day." Many began asking the family why the Flying Pig would allow a child to participate and if that level of exercise was safe for a young child.
"A kid should not be running a marathon," one comment said.
Another called it "child abuse."
Pediatrician Dr. Christopher Bollings said there are some exercises that young children should limit to avoid overuse or injury.
"There are certain limitations on certain activities because they can affect growth," Bollings said. "They're a little bit higher risk for certain types of injuries."
Bollings said weightlifting and resistance training should be limited for children younger than 13. He said running is typically an exercise that is suitable for younger kids, but a full marathon is unusual.
"A marathon certainly sounds like a lot to do for a 6-year-old and not something that we usually recommend," Bollings said.
Other kids in the family ran the race in previous years, but unofficially. The father said the director of the race, Iris Bush, helped them all officially register this year. He said Bush told them not to worry about a doctor's visit because they seemed prepared.
The father posted on Instagram that all of their kids are always given the option to run every race.
“We have never forced any of our children to run a marathon and we cannot even imagine that as feasible practically or emotionally,” the father said.
He said they would never put their son’s safety at risk.
“We asked him numerous times if he wanted to stop, and he was very clear that his preference was to continue,” the father said.
A spokesperson from Flying Pig Marathon declined to talk on camera or answer any questions but provided this statement:
"Flying Pig marathon officials have known about the Crawford family for years and their participation in the full marathon. In talking with the family before this year's race, it was clear that they would participate whether or not they were officially registered. For the safety of their family, we felt it was important that they were officially registered so they would receive on course support as needed."
This article was written by Taylor Nimmo for WCPO.