US parents under investigation after allowing their 6-year-old to run a 42km marathon

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Together, the Crawford family from the US has run 11 marathons over nine years.
Together, the Crawford family from the US has run 11 marathons over nine years.

From 7-year-old boxers to 4-year-olds capable of gravity-defying cheerleading stunts, we've seen just about every mind-boggling thing children are capable of, with the exception of one Rainier Crawford. 

The 6-year-old boy from the US recently ran in the 42km Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in 8.5 hours, impressing some and outraging others. 

Rainier is the youngest of six children from the Crawford family, who consist of parents Kami and Ben, and children Dove, 20; Eden, 19; Seven, 17; Memory, 15; and Filia, 11. 

Together, the family has run 11 marathons over nine years, the most recent being Rainier's first.

The family describe themselves as "adventurous," having involved their children in outdoor sporting activities "way before social media".

In 2018, the Crawfords completed the Appalachian Trail, which took 161 days. According to Appalachiantrail.org, it is "a gruelling and demanding endeavour". 

WATCH | Brave 3-year-old girl tests out skydive simulator for her birthday 

Apart from their own social media platforms, the family says they've never been featured in any form of media. 

But that changed after a controversial post detailing Rainier's state during the race went viral. 

Also see: Triplets born four years apart? Woman shares her mind-blowing conception story 

'Just shocked' 

"On the marathon course, Rainier knew they usually hand out Pringles around mile 20. He was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes. After 7 hours, we finally got to mile 20 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," the Instagram caption read alongside an image of Rainier holding the promised Pringles. 

According to dad Ben, the post was meant to be light-hearted. "I thought it was a funny story many parents could relate to," he said in a statement

Not seeing the humour, many commenters flooded the Insta post with concern. 

"What the heck is wrong with you?" An angry commenter wrote. "As a medical professional, you could have killed this kid! The lack of common sense and empathy…. I'm just shocked you think this was okay?" 

Another person said the Crawfords were totally in the wrong. 

"This is so messed up. A kid should not be running a marathon. The toll it takes on your body is insane. Forcing a kid to do this is abusive". 

US Olympian Kara Goucher also shared her opinion on the matter via Twitter. 

"I don't know who needs to hear this, but a six-year-old cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically. A six-year-old does not understand what embracing misery is. A six-year who is "struggling physically" does not realize they have the right to stop and should," Goucher wrote. 

Under investigation

The family have defended their actions via an online statement, explaining that their child was monitored constantly during the race. 

"Our 6-year-old had 2+ adults offering full-time monitoring of his health, mood, and safety at all times during a race... We take playground breaks, walk, and eat and drink whatever we want and do not emphasize speed or competition... We constantly monitored his food, liquid, and electrolyte intake, as well as monitored his body temperature. We did not see any sign of heat exhaustion or dehydration and honoured his request to keep on going," they insisted. 

The matter is currently being investigated by Child Protective Services in the US, who the Crawfords shared had visited their home and interviewed their children following the Instagram post. 

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