6-Year-Old Completes Full Marathon, Causes Firestorm

Many aren't happy that Cincinnati race organizers let this happen
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2022 12:31 PM CDT
6-Year-Old Completes Full Marathon, Causes Firestorm
Sergio Reyes wins the men's division of the annual Flying Pig Marathon on, May 1, 2016, in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(Newser) – The family that runs together ... causes controversy together. That's the case in Cincinnati, where organizers of the annual Flying Pig Marathon are taking heat for not stopping a 6-year-old boy from running (and finishing) the 26.2-mile race with his parents on Sunday. WLWT reports that the mom and dad in this case, from Bellevue, Ky., have competed in the famous race in years past, and that some of their kids have run with them. Which seems like nice bonding activity, except for one thing: race rules that limit full marathon runners to those 18 and older (14-year-olds can take on the half-marathon, while those 12 and older can do the 10K).

This time around, eight family members participated, including the 6-year-old, who took nearly nine hours to complete the course. His father tells WCPO that, in the final legs of the race, things got tough. "He was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes," says the dad. Once news started circulating of the boy's run, criticism began to pour in, with some even calling it akin to child abuse. "I'm OK with young kids running 5Ks," Dave Nelson, a member of the city's local running club, tells WXIX. But as for running a full marathon at age 6, "that's too much." A pediatrician also weighs in, telling WCPO that a such a long run for a kid so young is "not something that we usually recommend."

The dad says they don't force any of their kids to run, that they're always given the option to stop whenever they want, and that the director of the race is the one who helped the entire family register. Flying Pig put out a statement saying it "takes the safety and security of all participants very seriously," and that organizers felt pressured to let the boy register, as his parents were "bandits" who said they would let their son run with them whether he was officially registered or not. "Our decision was intended for some amount of safety and protection for the child," including being able to offer him drinks and medical support if needed. Race organizers say they'll be strictly enforcing the age limits from here on in. (Read more marathon stories.)

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