A couple who sparked controversy at last year’s Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio when their six-year-old son joined them for the 42.2-km distance is again courting controversy as the boy, now seven, appears to have run at least the second half of the marathon course unregistered.
Eight members of the Crawford family of Bellevue, Ky., completed the full 2022 marathon together in eight hours and 35 minutes. Two of the Crawford children were under 12 at the time; the youngest, Rainier Crawford, was only six. All members of the Crawford family were registered for last year’s marathon, although Rainier’s time was later removed from the results.
Following a flurry of criticism last year over parents Ben and Kami Crawford‘s decision to enter Rainier in the marathon, Flying Pig Marathon organizers set new age restrictions for participants of this year’s event, which took place Sunday. The new rules require that participants be at least 18 years old on race day for the marathon and at least 14 for the half-marathon. Those rules leave the door open for participants under 12 to run either event, however, if they meet a list of conditions and submit a waiver.
Seven-year-old Rainier was not registered in Sunday’s marathon. However, an Instagram post by his father following the race indicates he ran at least the last half of the course with Rainier.
“So many months of training. So many hours of running through snow, ice, rain and heat. So many conversations. We faced our limits within ourselves and we faced them with each other. We hugged, laughed and cried. I can’t believe it’s over. It’s a relief but I’ll miss it. I knew we could do it. I can’t believe it’s over,” reads the post, which features photos and a video of Ben and his son from Sunday’s race.
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“I’m proud of all my kids,” the post continues, “But it was a special time to train with this guy and finish the last 13 miles together. Every step together is a fucking gift.”
Race results show Ben finished the last half of the marathon in 4:46:54, and completed the full race in 8:15:42. Also registered in the race were Seven Crawford, 18, and Dove Crawford, 21.
The Crawfords hinted in an Instagram post late last week at the possibility of running Sunday’s race with at least one child not registered in the event.
“Last year, a select group in the running community attempted to get all children banned from the race. They falsified reports that our children were forced to run, they ignored evidence, would not listen to testimony from our children or government officials and continued to perpetuate the myth that it is dangerous for children to run. They used fear and force, calling for the race director to be fired and threatening to reach out to sponsors. They won. The race staff removed our child’s race time from the records and banned kids from future races, claiming it is for their safety, which is bullshit,” reads the post, presented as an “official statement” from the family.
The Crawfords wrote they have been thankful for their past “partnership” with the Flying Pig Marathon, “but now, if they make registration impossible for our children and then call them bandits, we will teach our kids to wear the label proudly. For the safety of our children we are not sharing our plans for this year’s race. But rest assured we will continue to live as we always have: by doing what we think is in the best interest of our kids and helping them achieve their goals.”
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That post was met with a mix of praise and condemnation. One user commented: “I’d think teaching kids to respect rules is more important than teaching them to ‘wear the label (of thief) proudly.” Another commended the Crawfords, saying their “resilience was inspiring.”
On Monday, the Crawfords dismissed accusations that participating in the event with a child who wasn’t registered was stealing, responding that there were three members of the family who registered for this year’s race, and only three medals were taken at the finish line.
Later Monday, the Crawfords’ Instagram account included a message that the couple was “making a conscious effort this year to stay off of forums and other bullshit hype stations that I heard are going nuts about our family running. BUT if you bring the drama to OUR page we’re gonna play.”