Turtle Trot Time


Family Fun Day Added

The Turtle Trot Fundraising 5K Run & Walk is at Lovers Key State Park (LKSP) on Saturday, May 11, at 8 a.m. While this is the 14th annual event, LKSP presents a brand new element this year – the inaugural Family Fun Day!

“The Family Fun Day immediately follows ‘The Turtle Trot’ and is the brainchild of LKSP’s Head Concessioner, Todd Richards,” said Debbie Voorhees, Executive Director of the Friends of Lovers Key State Park (FOLKS). “Todd has kids of his own and came up with this concept. LKSP will offer race participants and their families free kayak, paddleboard, bicycle and related rentals to enjoy the hiking, biking and water trails all day, so this will be super fun, especially for the kids, to spend the whole day in the park! In addition to these activities, there will be music, prizes and other surprises!”

Advanced registration fees for The Turtle Trot are $35 for adults and $25 for youths under age 18 through Friday, May 10; $40 for everyone on Race Day. “Our ‘Turtle Trot’ co-sponsor is the Fort Myers Track Club,” Voorhees stated, “so you can register and pick up a packet at their headquarters at 13101 McGregor Boulevard every day from Noon to 6 p.m., or on-line at friendsofloverskey.org. The race packet will include your official entry and number, course map, instructions and t-shirt. For more information, call 239-225-0234. Race Day registration is at 7 a.m. There will also be a Fun Run for children.”

One of the things that makes the Turtle Trot unique is the course, she related. “Runners and walkers wind through the maritime hammock ecosystem that is really shady, so it can be quite cool, even on the hottest morning. Participants run on the hard-packed shell path on the 5-mile Hammock Trail on Black Island, as this is easy on knee and ankle joints. The Turtle Trot concludes on the gorgeous beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, by the gazebo, where we will have refreshments and the Awards Ceremony immediately following the race, then a complimentary tram returns you to your car. Local runners tell us the Hammock Trail is the most beautiful running path in Lee County!”

Welcome & Discovery Center

Voorhees added that “The Turtle Trot is a fundraiser for LKSP’s upcoming Welcome & Discover Center, as everything FOLKS sponsors leads up to our funding goal to make this building a reality. Construction of the new $4 million Welcome & Discovery Center, paid for by the State of Florida, commences late this year, with FOLKS pledging to raise an additional $1.5 million for its exhibits and furnishings.”

The Welcome & Discovery Center is a much-needed component for LKSP, said Voorhees, “because it will be a great place for environmental education and programing, for local schoolchildren, adults, and visitors, to explain what makes the park such a great place with unique ecosystems. LKSP draws over 1.2-million people each year, and that is more than any other State Park without a Visitor Center or educational facility. This building is crucial so that all of us can learn how to become better stewards of our environment, especially after last summer’s water quality crisis, as the more we know, the more we can do to prevent future occurrences. It will also be a major tourist attraction, and the more people who visit Southwest Florida and Fort Myers Beach, the more they will help to boost our local economy by staying in our hotels, patronizing our bars and restaurants and spending money in our shops.”

Lovers Key State Park is just off the southern end of Fort Myers Beach at 8700 Estero Boulevard. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to sundown, with $8 per car admission for 2 to 8 people, $4 for single occupant vehicles or motorcycles, and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. For programs and information, call 239-463-4588 or see bit.ly/LoversKey

“The Turtle Trot is great and the new Family Fun Day will be a terrific addition,” said Voorhees. “This is just one more reason why Lovers Key State Park is wonderful for families, so come on out and enjoy the park!”


By Gary Mooney