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Turtle Crawl Triathlon & Nest Fest

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Jekyll Island’s picturesque oceanfront, maritime forest, and flat terrain make the barrier island a runner’s dream. Since 2003, Jekyll Island has hosted Turtle Crawl, a weekend of races to benefit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Runners from around the world travel to Jekyll for the two USA Triathlon-sanctioned triathlons – the International Distance Triathlon and the Sprint Distance – as well as the 5K and 10K races. The full weekend event will take place Friday, May 12, through Sunday, May 14.

“These races do more than get your blood pumping,” said Dr. Terry Norton, the Center’s director and veterinarian. “They also benefit the work we do here at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.”

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 and learn about sea turtles and other wildlife patients.

In its 10 years of operation, GSTC has healed 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 athletes participating in Turtle Crawl help fund the rehabilitation costs for the Center’s patients and educational programming. Last year’s race weekend raised approximately $20,000 for the Center and the organizing team hopes to reach that number again.

Between the triathlon and 5K and 10K races, the Beach Village will host the Turtle Crawl Festival, a celebration of the start of the sea turtle nesting season. GSTC staff and volunteers will host field day-style games. The Center’s mascot, Scute, will visit for pictures, and a full schedule of live music performances will entertain runners and guests on the Village Green. Additionally, the Beach Village restaurants and merchants and a regional food truck park will be available for a variety of delicious eats and treats.

“We want families to enjoy the evening’s festivities,” said Norton. “We also want to show them how just a few small changes they can make can have a huge impact in the life of a sea turtle.”

From elite, world-class athletes to running novices, the Turtle Crawl races offer something for every athlete at every skill level. With four races to choose from combined with Turtle Crawl Festival and a unique island getaway, Turtle Crawl Weekend on Jekyll is a “racecation” for all families. 

Established in 2007 on Jekyll Island and operated by the Jekyll Island Authority, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was developed as an institution devoted to the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles and preservation of the delicate balance of the oceanic ecosystem.

Jekyll Island, a small barrier island on Georgia’s coast, is dedicated to maintaining the delicate balance between nature and humankind through conservation, education, and preservation. Surrounded by salt marshes, expansive oceanfront, and one of the last in-tact ancient maritime forests, it is a peaceful coastal habitat situated within the Golden Isles. From 20 miles of bike paths to historic cottages, the island is a place of discovery and exploration for the people of Georgia and beyond. 

Click here for more information about this annual event.