By John Bennet
JIA Marketing Communications Manager
The annual Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl—taking place March 14, 2020—is shaping up to beat its own record.
Previously a triathlon-focused race, the event was revamped last year to offer new race formats and attract a wider variety of participants. The decision has proved to be a wise one, as nearly 1,000 people participated in the 2019 Turtle Crawl 10K, 5K, and family 1-mile Fun Run. With early registration numbers at an all-time high, 2020 participation is on track to surpass last year’s totals, which is good news for patients at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Since 2003, Turtle Crawl has raised more than $100,000 to support the GSTC’s mission of sea turtle research, rehabilitation, and education. Once the domain of elite athletes, Turtle Crawl now appeals to people of all ages and abilities, according to Jekyll Island Authority events manager Ainsley Toal, who organizes the event.
“Turtle Crawl has truly become an event for everyone, and it’s been especially fun to see parents and children running and walking together for a cause,” she said. Racers three years old and up can participate in the Fun Run/Walk, which is held on the beach.
Still, even with Turtle Crawl’s broader appeal, it remains popular with more competitive runners, Toal said. The 10K is a qualifier for the AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, with medals awarded to the first, second, and third place finishers, both males and females, and by age groups. The Turtle Crawl course, which follows the shoreline and winds through maritime forest, is also famous for being fast, flat, and offering out-of-this-world scenic views.
“They are truly racing virtually,” Toal said. “They receive the same t-shirts as participants who join us on Jekyll Island, so they can wear them proudly wherever they are.”