Runners make their way to the finish line of the
Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl.
Runners pass Great Dunes Beach Park
on their final stretch of the race.
By Alexa Orndoff, JIA Director of Marketing and Communications
What do runners and sea turtles have in common? They both love Jekyll Island.
Jekyll Island’s picturesque oceanfront, maritime forest, and flat terrain make the barrier island a runner’s dream. Since 2003, Jekyll Island has hosted the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl races to benefit the life-saving work of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC).
For the 2019 races, to be held March 10, the Center is shaking things up. “We’ve revamped the event to make it easier for turtle lovers of all ages to participate,” said Nancy Kring-Rowan, Jekyll Island Authority director of events. The event added a one-mile fun run and a ghost crawler option. Ghost crawlers can pay the registration fee and receive a T-shirt but don’t have to run. Both the 5K and 10K races, which are Peachtree Road Race qualifiers, will return. Also new for 2019, race registration includes admission to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center so racers can see first-hand why they’re running.
“We really wanted a way to include more people and ages,” said Dr. Terry Norton, the Center’s director and veterinarian. “This is our largest fundraiser and every penny of the proceeds benefit the work of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.”
Funded by the generous donors of the Jeklyll Island Foundation, the Jekyll Island Authority opened the Center in 2007 as a conservation program dedicated to increasing awareness through education, rehabilitation, and research programs. The working wildlife hospital is open to the public and features an interactive exhibit gallery and rehabilitation pavilion where guests can observe real-time treatments and learn about sea turtles and other wildlife patients.
In its 12 years of operation, GSTC has treated and released more than 3,000 animals. The JIA, along with generous supporters through the Jekyll Island Foundation, enable the GSTC to operate its life-saving facility, the only one of its kind in the state of Georgia. Funds raised from those participating in the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl races help cover the rehabilitation costs for the Center’s patients and educational programming.
From seasoned runners to novices, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Crawl races offer a way for turtle lovers of every age and skill level to participate. Participants are encouraged to register soon as registration fees increase Wednesday, Jan. 31.