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Flying Pig updates age restrictions one year after 6-year-old's participation sparked controversy

Flying Pig 2022
Posted at 11:09 AM, May 04, 2023

CINCINNATI — One year after a then-6-year-old boy's participation in the marathon sparked nation-wide controversy, organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon have implemented new age restrictions for runners.

The updated age policy was sent to WCPO on Wednesday, just a few days ahead of the marathon.

It says runners must be at least 18 years old to participate in the full Flying Pig Marathon, at least 14 years old to run the half marathon and at least 12 years old to run the 10K/Relay/14K. There are no age restrictions on any races that span distances less than 10K.

Waivers will be allowed in certain circumstances, according to the new policy for the half marathon and full marathon — but not less than 30 days from the race, so hopeful runners must have obtained them by now.

To obtain one, the policy says the runner still has to be at least 12 years old.

In addition, the runner must have parental approval, approval from a primary care physician and allow Pig Works' medical staff to discuss the child's participation with their primary care doctor. The runner then has to meet with Pig Works' medical staff and have a guide participate in the race alongside them, or provide an emergency plan for race day contacts.

"As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Flying Pig Marathon, we are excited to welcome more than 40,000 participants to the Finish Swine this weekend, from the one mile to the full marathon and all distances in between," reads a statement issued by Iris Simpson Bush, CEO of Pig Works. "The Flying Pig Marathon was created to provide opportunities for people of all abilities. The safety and security of everyone on the course, from participants, volunteers and spectators remains our top priority. With that in mind, we review our policies every year with our medical team and our board of directors to ensure they provide safety for our event."

It's been one year since the 6-year-old boy's participation in the 26.2 mile-long race created controversy and discussion over social media. After his parents, Kami and Ben Crawford, documented his participation in the marathon on their Instagram account, the family faced a backlash as the discussion over whether that level of exercise could be safe for a young child spread across the internet.

The boy crossed the Finish Swine in 8 hours and 35 minutes, along with his two parents and five siblings, ages 11 to 20. At the time, the Flying Pig's website stated "marathon participants need to be 18 years of age on race day."

Ultimately, Child Protective Services visited the family, the parents said on social media.

In an Instagram post, the Crawfords said social workers came to their home and interviewed their children "because leaders in the running community are calling running with children wrong."

Dr. Christopher Bolling, a pediatrician, said there are some exercises that young children should limit to avoid overuse or injury — specifically weightlifting and resistance training, which should be limited for kids younger than 13, he said.

"A marathon certainly sounds like a lot to do for a 6-year-old and not something that we usually recommend," Bolling said.

The parents maintained their son's health was never in danger.

Other kids in the family ran the race in previous years, but unofficially, according to Ben Crawford. He said the director of the race, Bush, helped them all officially register in 2022. He said Bush told them not to worry about a doctor's visit because they seemed prepared.

“We asked him numerous times if he wanted to stop, and he was very clear that his preference was to continue,” Ben said in 2022.

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