Registration open for annual Turtle Trot 5K
Register now for the 14th annual Turtle Trot 5K to help raise funds for the Friends of Lovers Key while enjoying the route’s beautiful scenery showcasing some of the area’s great wildlife.
The annual race will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd. Youth early registration through May 10 is $25 and early adult registration is $35 through the same day. All entries are $40 the day of the race.
“We do it the second Saturday of every May, which usually falls on the day before Mother’s Day,” Race Director Todd Richard said. “It’s the largest single day event that we use to raise money for the Lovers Key friends.”
Last year around $12,000 was raised, which included sponsorships.
“The most runners we have ever had is 650. Last year we had about 475. We are looking to try to boost that and get the numbers back to where we like to see them,” Richard said.
The 5K starts at a shady maritime hammock ecosystem on Black Island, as well as taking participants over bridges before finishing on the beach.
Richard said he believes, in Southwest Florida, that the Turtle Trot is an original race to end on the beach on the sand.
“It’s very unique,” he said of the route. “The rangers do a great job. They spray paint anything that is a tripping hazard. We try to make it a safe experience.”
The great thing about the route, Richard said, is for those who are not competitively running the race can stop and enjoy the overlook of the estuary where manatees and dolphins are spotted daily.
“If you are not trying to win, enjoy yourself and see what kind of interesting things you can find,” Richard said.
Participants are encouraged to stay and hang out on the beach afterward, or go out on the paddle boards and kayaks.
“Feel free to stay and enjoy the beach and the park and all it has to offer afterwards,” he said.
The proceeds of the race, he explained, is a vital component of the overall budget for the year for the Friends of Lovers Key.
“It allows us to use that money to take care of the park and the things they might need,” Richard said, adding that the money is also funneled toward the Welcome and Discovery Center and its exhibits. “The Turtle Trot money allows us to use that for our main budget and getting those exhibits done. We are making sure they are the highest quality of exhibits in the area to draw people into the park and have a connection with Lovers Key and the environment.”