Organizers of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon have come under scrutiny after a 6-year-old boy participated in the 26.2-mile race on Sunday. According to WXIX in Cincinnati, the Kentucky boy competed in the marathon along with his parents, as well as five siblings who range from ages 11 to 20.
However, the minimum age requirement for the Flying Pig Marathon is 18.
The entire family needed eight and a half hours to complete the race, according to the report, even though the course traditionally closes after eight hours have elapsed. According to WCPO Channel 9, the father of the child claims that Iris Bush, the director of the race, helped the entire family register for the race. Bush allegedly told the father “not to worry about a doctor’s visit because they seemed prepared.”
Bush has since released a statement on the matter:
“…They had done it as bandits, in prior years, before we had any knowledge of it and we knew he was likely to do so again. The intent was to try to offer protection and support if they were on our course (Medical, Fluid 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 course. I assume full responsibility for the decision and accept 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 6-year-old boy’s father posted on Instagram that he asked his son if he could continue on multiple occasions during the race and didn’t want to put his health at risk. The boy, who ran 20 miles in seven hours, wanted to keep running and finish the race.
“This is the first marathon our entire family has run together,” the father told WCPO. “Our five older kids waited for over an hour at mile 25 and after 8 hours and 35 minutes we all crossed the finish line together.”
The father added that the boy, at one point, “was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes.”
The 6-year-old’s completion of the marathon has led to criticism from many, including two-time Olympian and World Championship runner Kara Goucher. She took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the matter, writing “as an Olympic athlete, I promise you this is not good for the child.”
Dr. Christopher Bolling, a Pediatrician, told WCPO that “a marathon certainly sounds like a lot to do for a 6-year-old and (is) not something that we usually recommend.”