Kami and Ben Crawford, the influencer parents behind the popular family YouTube channel Fight For Together, are under fire after having their six-year-old son Rainier run a marathon with them and their other five children.
On social media, the notion of a kindergartener running a 26.2-mile race struck many as unconscionable, with some even accusing the Crawfords of child abuse.
It all began with a series of posts the Crawfords made on Instagram, like the one below in which they described their efforts to essentially bribe their son with Pringles to overcome his physical struggles to complete the marathon.
In their caption, the Crawfords wrote:
"On the marathon course, Rainier... was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes."
"After 7 hours, we finally got to mile 20... He was crying and we were moving slow so I told him I'd buy him two sleeves [of Pringles] if he kept moving."
"I had to promise him another sleeve to get him in the family pic at the finish line."
The backlash was almost immediate from people who were disturbed by what the Crawfords described, with even bold names in the sport of running speaking out against the Crawfords decision, including two-time Olympic medalist runner Kara Goucher.
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.— Kara Goucher (@Kara Goucher) 1651680220
Stating what seemed to many should be obvious, Goucher wrote:
"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."
Three-time Australian Olympic medalist Lee Troop also spoke out against the Crawfords.
Race organizers allowing a 6 year old to run a marathon \nChild stopping every 3mins after 20 miles, crying and emotionally distressed \nParents bribing him to finish & he\u2019ll get Pringles \nParents seeing no issue in allowing this to happen \nEverything about this is wrong!— Lee Troop \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa (@Lee Troop \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa) 1651670209
During an appearance on Good Morning America, the Crawfords said they did not force Rainier to run the marathon and that it was Rainier's idea, despite what many felt their social media posts seemed to indicate.
Regardless, the uproar became so strong that the Crawfords say Child Protective Services visited their home unannounced and questioned their children on the basis of what they say are made-up accusations of abuse on social media.
The Crawfords excoriated both Goucher and Troop for ginning up the outrage and demanded they "take responsibility" for creating a "witch hunt" against them.
But on social media, it seemed very few people were on their side, with many convinced the Crawfords were using their son for social media clout.
These parents want attention so badly. Their open letter is nauseating. I\u2019m not sure a CPS visit was warranted but they\u2019re clearly using their kids for social media attention. Marathons aren\u2019t a joke. They are not a place for children.— Kim (@Kim) 1652285863
PSA those horrible parents that make their young children run marathons are using the controversy to promote their book and YouTube channel so let\u2019s all collectively decide they\u2019re awful and stop talking about it and move on— David Melly (@David Melly) 1652020043
2/2 I take responsibility for what I say, as should every individual. Your statement is about CPS turning up to your house which has nothing to do with me.\nI am more than happy to see a statement from you on why my opinion on allowing a 6yo to run a marathon is wrong?— Lee Troop \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa (@Lee Troop \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa) 1651942638
Your response is a little scary because it implies you think CPS showed up to your house just because two olympians "attacked you". Just to clarify, CPS had a valid reason to start an investigation because you displayed *potential* abusive behavior.— Cyril \ud83c\uddf1\ud83c\udde7 (@Cyril \ud83c\uddf1\ud83c\udde7) 1651955031
If there wasn\u2019t a legitimate reason for concern, CPS would have never investigated. And better to have a professional assess the situation than Instagram commenters.— Midwest BogWitch \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Midwest BogWitch \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1651946882
"Comments have been limited" tells you everything you need to know about this guy and his inability to understand how wrong his actions were. He is willing to engage privately, but clings to a public persona of being a victim. \n\nOh, and kids shouldn't run marathons. Hard stop.pic.twitter.com/KAn0OCL5QW— Kim Manturuk (@Kim Manturuk) 1651952115
The weirdos that made their 6yr old run a marathon and then posted all about it, got a surprise visit from Kentucky child protective services. As they should have.— Bobby Hill The Tarnished (@Bobby Hill The Tarnished) 1652270025
Yikes. As a parent who\u2019s run several marathons, I can honestly say that I would NEVER let my 6 year old child run a marathon.https://twitter.com/6abc/status/1522584540002365452\u00a0\u2026— Cecily Tynan (@Cecily Tynan) 1651849631
If you let your 6 year old run a 26 mile marathon and then post all over the internet about it, you really shouldn't be surprised when CPS knocks on your door. A child of that age just wants to make their parents proud and happy. They have no idea what they're about to do. #gma— Rain Goddess (@Rain Goddess) 1652238685
These people need some serious parenting advice. Just more attention grabbing social media junkies. Lucky the kid wasn't hurt or that Flying Pig would be a Flying Lawsuit.https://6abc.com/society/child-protective-services-visits-family-of-6-year-old-marathon-runner/11834316/\u00a0\u2026— Peggy I (@Peggy I) 1652283540
For their part, the organizers of the Flying Pig marathon have defended their decision to allow Rainier to run the race, but said they will strictly enforce its 18+ age restriction going forward.