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6-year-old allowed to run full marathon

Members of the public spoke out after a 6-year-old and the child's family ran the course after the conclusion of the marathon.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:05 AM AKDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX/Gray News) - Controversy followed the Flying Pig Marathon last weekend after a 6-year-old was allowed to run the full 26.2-mile race.

The 6-year-old’s family, numbering eight total, ran the race together and finished with the same time. The other five children are ages 11, 15, 17, 19 and 20.

The race has a posted age minimum of 18 years old.

Race organizers said they justified allowing the 6-year-old to race because the family has had a pattern of racing as so-called “bandits,” or racing without paying or following the rules.

Flying Pig executive director Iris Simpson Bush said in an open letter published Wednesday, “The intent was to try to offer protection and support if they were on our course (Medical, Fluids and Replenishment). Our decision was intended for some amount of safety and protection for the child. The family finished the race after the formal closure of the race course.”

Bush also said the marathon “takes the safety and security of all participants very seriously,” accepted responsibility for the decision and also accepted that “it was not the best course of action. Our requirement of 18+ for participation in the marathon will be strictly observed moving forward.”

The executive director’s full statement was posted by WXIX.

David Nelson has been a member of the Cincinnati Running Club since the ‘70s. He’s an avid local runner who believes a full marathon is too much for young children.

“I’m OK with young kids running 5Ks,” he said Wednesday. “I see that occasionally. And a lot of these races have these kids runs. That’s OK, too. But I just think a 6-year-old, even if you’re a kid prodigy, that’s too much.”

Nelson can only remember once he’s ever seen a young child run marathon distances. He says he’s glad race officials didn’t interfere and and feels the decision should be left up to the parents whether the child should run.

The story appears to have gotten national attention as well.

Kara Goucher, a two-time Olympian and World Championship runner, saying in part via Twitter on Wednesday: “I’m not questioning motivation or saying it is bad parenting. But as an Olympic athlete, I promise you this is not good for the child. Children are children. Let them run around, but as the parent you need to protect their growing bodies and their young minds.”

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