Family of 6-year-old who ran Flying Pig Marathon thankful for support, stressed by negativity
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - It has been a bag of mixed reactions for a Bellevue family after all eight of them, including their 6-year-old son Rainier, completed the entire 26.2 miles of the Flying Pig Marathon on May 1.
FOX19 NOW’s Ken Baker spoke with the Crawford family about what their lives have been like since the marathon.
From appearances on national TV to social media scrutiny and support, the Crawfords have become the center of attention.
The Crawfords say after a celebratory Facebook post, they started getting push back for allowing their 6-year-old Rainer to run the full marathon.
On the Facebook post, people claimed the Crawfords used Pringles to bribe their son to keep him running.
Kammi and Ben Crawford say that is not what happened.
“On the marathon course, Rainier knew they hand out Pringles and at mile 20, he was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes,” Ben explained. “After seven hours, we got to mile 20 and only to find an abandoned table and empty boxes. He was crying and moving so slow, so I told him I’d buy him two sleeves If he kept moving.”
The family said Rainier wanted to run and during the race, he walked, ran and took breaks whenever he needed. Rainier says he got a little sore towards the end, but finished it out.
“The internet took that one picture and said, ‘See what makes the most sense here is that these people used potato chips to run the race,’” Ben said.
Among those who have chimed in on the Crawfords is Olympian Kara Goucher, who tweeted that a 6-year-old “cannot fathom” the physical toll a marathon will have on them.
“There has also been a lot of backlash from some of the running community that thinks marathons should be run a certain way or kids shouldn’t be allowed,” Ben said.
The official Flying Pig rules say you must be 18-years-old to compete in the full marathon.
Race organizers say they justified allowing the 6-year-old to race because the family has had a pattern of racing as so-called “bandits,” or racing without paying or following the rules.
In part, a statement from the Flying Pig’s executive director says:
Ben says he hoped the Flying Pig’s response would have been better, but he understands the position race organizers have been out in.
“I was disappointed with the Flying Pig’s Statement, but I understand the position they are in,” Ben stated. “I have always registered for every race that I have run in and I register my kids when they are allowed and it’s possible to register them.”
The Crawfords say they are thankful for the support they have received, but the negativity from others is having a major impact on the family.
“Life has definitely not been normal,” says Kammi Crawford, Rainier’s mother. “It just feels like at every corner there is someone who has an opinion and wants to talk to us. I say it has been pretty stressful the last week and a half.”
They’ve been subject to visits from child protective services following allegations the 6-year-old was abused. One of the visits from child protective services happened Thursday during the family’s interview with FOX19 NOW.
“You have this government agency that can literally take away your kid,” Kammi and Ben explain. “A lot of times, they separate the family members to get the answers. I’m glad we have nothing to hide. It takes a long time to recover for the family members. People are having emotional breakdowns this week. It’s a threat.”
Kammi and Ben say they have not done anything wrong, but despite that, know there’s a chance they lose their child.
The parents said Rainer started running last year after he showed interest in the family sport. The idea to compete in the Flying Pig came to Rainier after he saw his older sister complete the marathon.
Rainier says he runs about three times a week and does it for the muscles running builds - and the snacks he gets afterward.
After all of the controversy surrounding this year’s performance, Rainier says he would like to compete in the 2023 Flying Pig. However, marathon officials officially changed the required age to 18+.
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