Letting a 6-year-old run the Flying Pig Marathon is ‘not the best’ decision
After a barrage of criticism, the director of the Flying Pig Marathon says it was not the best decision to allow a 6-year-old to run the entire event and that age requirements will be strictly enforced in the future.
Race Director Iris Simpson Bush released an open letter to the community on Wednesday evening after an Enquirer report elucidated the controversy surrounding Sunday’s race:
“Please allow me to share the reasons for the decision to allow a minor to participate in this year’s race.
This decision was not taken lightly as the father was determined to race his young child regardless. They had done it as bandits in previous years before we knew about it and we knew he was likely to do it again.
The intention was to try to offer protection and support if they took our course (medical, fluids and resupply).
Our decision was aimed at a certain safety and protection for the child. The family finished the race after the racecourse officially closed.
I take full responsibility for the decision and accept that it was not the best course of action. Our 18+ requirement to participate in the marathon will be strictly enforced going forward.”
In the racing community, a “bandit” is someone who enters a race when they are not properly registered.
The Crawfords, a family of eight from Bellevue, said they participated in the race with their 6-year-old son. The family is very active on social media and has written a book about being the biggest family to hike the Appalachian Trail.
The race organizer was criticized for allowing such a young person to register and criticized the family. Runners critical of the decision to let the six-year-old boy run have warned that running long distances at a young age can cause injury and long-term health problems.
The story caught the attention of Olympic runners, with Kara Goucher and Lee Troop weighing in on Twitter. Both said that 6 years old is too young for a marathon.
Ben Crawford, the 6-year-old’s father, also released a statement in response to hundreds of comments on social media criticizing his decision.
He said all of his children have run marathons and other races for years. In social media posts, the family said their children had previously participated unofficially in the Flying Pig. Their eldest son is now 20 years old.
He said none of their children were forced to run and their 6-year-old was only allowed to attempt the marathon because he ‘begged’ to join the rest of his family.
Ben Crawford said he and his wife “gave him a half chance of finishing it and were ready to pull the plug at any time if he asked or if we saw his safety at risk. We asked him several times times if he wanted to quit and it was VERY clear his preference was to continue.”
“We saw no signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration and honored his request to continue,” he said.