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Turtle Trot/Family Fun Day offers great time at Lovers Key May 12

May 9, 2018
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It's time to lace up your running shoes, and start stretching for the 13th annual Lovers Key Turtle Trot/Family Fun Day which will be hosted by the Friends of Lovers Key. The fun is set for Saturday, May 12, with a 7 a.m. registration and packet pickup and an 8 a.m. race start at the scenic Lovers Key State Park at 8700 Estero Blvd. in Fort Myers Beach. Runners are sure to be impressed by the race course.

"This unique 5K trail course, sanctioned by The Fort Myers Track Club, takes runners through a shady maritime hammock ecosystem on a hard-packed shell path," said Shelley-Sue Williams, FOLKS' director/communications chair. "No part of the course requires running through beach sand and the course ends with a dramatic finish at the beach pavilion, where refreshments will be served and awards will be presented."

Remember, the Turtle Trot is just one half of what's in store for attendees.

"Bring the entire family and stay and play after the race for a fun filled day at Lovers Key State Park," Williams said. "Runners and walkers of all ages will enjoy this 5K. There will be children's races for kids of all ages, a hula hoop contest, and a children's activity hosted by the Bonita Springs Shell Club that will let your child create a special colored sand Mother's Day gift for mom."

Registration fee is $35 for adults and $25 for youth (18 and under) through May 11. Day-of-race registration is $40 for all entries. Runners may also visit the FOLKS website or stop at the Ranger Station at the park for a registration form or contact the Fort Myers Track Club. Participants may either pick up their packet on race day or choose an earlier pickup on Friday, May 11, from noon to 6 p.m. at Run Florida at 13101 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers. Race Packets include official Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K T-shirt, official race number, course map, and general instructions. T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 500 registered participants and shirt sizes are subject to availability.

"Lovers Key State Park is one of Southwest Florida's hidden treasures. It offers picnic areas, miles and miles of unspoiled beaches, a snack bar, gift shop, rest rooms, water sports rentals, multiple fishing piers and more," Williams said. "All proceeds from the race benefit the Friends of Lovers Key, Inc. a volunteer non-profit group that raises money to help protect, preserve and support Lovers Key State Park.

Lovers Key is the No. 2 most visited park in the state of Florida. The Friends of Lovers Key events committee has long supported the state park by funding special needs and programs for the park. Now their task is slightly different. The State Legislature has provided $4 million in funds for a new Welcome and Discovery Center building at the park. Ground breaking is scheduled for this fall, but a task still remains. The building will need exhibits, furniture, class room equipment etc. So FOLKS has a new calling - to fund these needs. Proceeds from the race will go towards that effort.

"What surprises people most is that many of our first-time participants have no idea of the beauty of the trails inside of Lovers Key State Park," Williams said. "Running or walking the race course through the Black Island Trail adds a special element to the race."

Maribeth Richards has run in a previous Turtle Trot and enjoyed its uniqueness.

"I loved running this race course, especially the shady portion of the trail. I loved finishing on the beach. After the race I jumped in the Gulf to cool off."

Williams said runners will enjoy the scenic opportunities afforded inside Lovers Key.

"Some areas of the course are shaded, and a large part of the course runs adjacent to the canals in the park," Williams said. "Listen to the sounds of nature as you run. If you're lucky enough, you may even spot a dolphin or manatee along the way."

Williams said the Turtle Trot is a chance see for themselves why Southwest Floridians continue to have a love affair with Lovers Key State Park.

"My favorite part of the event is when participants get to experience beauty and nature all around them as they run the course," Williams said. "Then after the event they get to meet up with their family and enjoy all of the other fun activities inside the park - biking, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and more. Who wouldn't want to spend a day here?"

For more information, call 239-463-4588 or visit



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