Parents Say Child Protective Services Visited Them After Backlash Over Completing Marathon with Son, 6

In a statement provided to PEOPLE, Ben and Kami Crawford said CPS arrived unannounced at their home to follow up on six unsubstantiated reports of child abuse

Parents face backlash after 6-year-old allowed to run full marathon
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Two parents who came under fire last week after running a marathon with their 6-year-old son said Child Protective Services visited their home five days after the race.

On May 1, Kami and Ben Crawford ran the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati with their six children, including their youngest son, Rainier.

Afterwards, father Ben Crawford wrote on Instagram that it took Rainier eight hours and 35 minutes to complete the marathon, and that the child "was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes."

The social media post sparked a backlash, as some people expressed concern that the child ran the full 26.2 miles, while others accused the family of child abuse.

Kami and Ben Crawford told PEOPLE in a statement that CPS arrived at their family's Bellevue, Kentucky home unannounced "five days after the marathon" to interview their children, parents and grandmother.

"This was a scary process because usually children are interrogated away from parents, against their will, and their answers determine the agency's legal right to take away the kids," the Crawfords said in the statement. "CPS received 6 immediately unsubstantiated reports, but was required to investigate when someone falsely claimed that we dragged Rainier after mile 13 and across the finish line, pulling him against his will."

The Campbell County District Attorney's Office, which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, confirmed to Good Morning America that CPS did visit the family. GMA reported on Tuesday that no determination had yet been made in the investigation.

According to the Crawfords, they have been running marathons with their kids for years — and they only allowed Rainier to "train and attempt" this marathon after he begged to join.

Throughout the race, they asked Rainier "numerous times if he wanted to stop and he was VERY clear that his preference was to continue," his parents said.

"We constantly monitored his food, liquid, and electrolyte intake as well as monitored his body temperature. We did not see any sign of heat exhaustion or dehydration and honored his request to keep on going," they wrote.

"Our goal from the beginning has been to make running fun. Marathons have always been an optional activity and as the kids have gotten older the training for the marathons is 100% elective," the Crawfords wrote in an open letter obtained by PEOPLE. "We have never emphasized competition."

The couple also addressed the outcry in an Instagram video, saying that the family planned to hold hands crossing the finish line ahead of time.

But some had criticism for the parents on social media, including several competitive runners.

"I don't know who needs to hear this but a six year old cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically," Olympic runner Kara Goucher wrote on Twitter. "A six year who is 'struggling physically' does not realize they have the right to stop and should."

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Dr. Alok Patel, ABC News medical correspondent, told Good Morning America that there are serious concerns involved with such a young child participating in a marathon.

"If a young child were to run a marathon, I'm worried about electrolyte abnormalities, nausea, vomiting, heatstroke, all these signs and symptoms that may not be that clear in a young child," Patel said.

The Crawfords, however, fired back, calling the research and studies being used against them "outdated" and citing Kami's training as a registered nurse. They added that their children are offered food and drinks during races and that Rainier was asked multiple times if he wanted to stop.

"Our six-year-old had 2+ adults offering full time monitoring of his health, mood, and safety at all times during a race," the couple said in statement. "His mom has a bachelors in nursing and was a trained registered nurse."

They also cited a 2019 article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine that concludes "there are no evidence or consensus-based guidelines identifying risk factors for injury and illness in youth runners, and current recommendations regarding suitable running distances for youth runners at different ages are opinion based."

Responding to Goucher, Rainier's older sibling, 15-year-old Memory Crawford, said the attention "now [doesn't] even have anything to do with the fact that we ran a marathon," according to a screenshot posted by the parents. She added that she ran her first marathon when she was only slightly older than Rainier.

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