I recently discovered Jekyll Island in January, and have been looking for excuses to return ever since. It’s a quiet island, not exactly remote, but definitely off the beaten path. Jekyll is also a somewhat unique state park, with a combination of hotels, residential, shops, restaurants, landmarks, activities and even a water park. At just over an hour from my home, it’s definitely worth a visit.
When I saw that the Turtle Crawl series of triathlons and road races was scheduled for Mother’s Day Weekend, I saw my chance for a quick visit, and registered for Sunday’s 10K. My plan was to leave super early in the morning, drive up, run, and come home, but Mr PugRunner ended up booking a hotel room, so my mom and little man joined me for the whole weekend.
It was fairly perfect.
The Turtle Crawl is a series of events to benefit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a wonderful facility dedicated to the rehab and release of sick and injured turtles. I have visited twice, and I am hopeful that little man and I will be able to visit on a day where they get to release one of their patients. I can’t imagine how amazing that would be.
As such, this is a huge race for the Island (but still one of the smallest I run). Per the results, there were about 200 runners in the 10K. I was a fairly late registrant, so while I was guaranteed a bib, a race t-shirt was not promised. There also wasn’t going to be a medal, as that would detract from funds that could be donated to the Turtle Center, which was perfectly understandable.
On Sunday morning, I got up early and snuck out so as not to wake my roommates. Our hotel was only 1.6 miles from the race start – I had planned to jog it but the sidewalk wasn’t terribly well lit so my mom asked me to take the car. She was hopeful that little man would wake up in time and they would walk down the beach to the finish line.
I arrived at the Great Dunes Park site at around 6:00 AM to pick up my packet. There had been an Expo on Friday, prior to Saturday’s triathlons, but I was unable to make it. I very easily claimed my bib and goodie bag, and was lucky enough to get a t-shirt in my preferred size! Yay!
The only thing I hadn’t considered in my preparations was bug spray – there were hundreds of little stinging gnats making everyone miserable. I found it was more bearable if I kept moving, so I wandered around, making my bathroom stop(s) and taking obsessive photos of the sunrise.
It was too beautiful.
The 10K was scheduled to start at 7:00 AM, with the 5K following at 7:15. We lined up on the road outside the Convention Center, and were treated to a lovely rendition of the National Anthem. I had run this same course in January: 3.1 miles down the main road, make a U turn, come back, and then hook a left on to the beach path with just over a mile to go. Four months ago, the weather was freezing and windy, but on this day, it was the complete opposite. I was interested to see how it would all go down.
Despite the heat and humidity, it was a lovely run. There was plenty of shade after the first two miles, and a nice breeze blew in off the ocean. For the 10K, there were plenty of water stops, with smiling, encouraging volunteers along the way.
I extended my run/walk intervals a bit and pushed – I was feeling good and I loved my new shoes so I wanted to make the most of the day. I hit the turnaround, and did find a bit of a struggle with the sidewalk designated for the return runners. It was banked and my hip didn’t appreciate the slant. I ended up getting back up on the actual road for a little bit. I probably added some distance with the weaving, but it was worth it.
It’s always a treat to run along a beach, and that last mile was just gorgeous. There was a little congestion from the 5K runners and walkers on the path, but it was easy enough to navigate.
I loved running down the last stretch and seeing my mom and little man on either side of the finish line. It was awesome, and I was so happy they had made it on time!
And I was also thrilled with the great free photos, courtesy of True Speed Photo! The team there always does an incredible job.
We didn’t stay too long at the after party. Volunteers handed out cold water and Gatorade at the finish and there were bagels and bananas for the runners. There were also massages, vendors and some representatives from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in the grassy area.
This is the perfect, low-key destination race for a holiday weekend. While I didn’t get to experience any of the triathlon activities, spectating for those would only add to the fun. Little man wants to join next year for the 5K – both events are great for any level of runner or walker.
What’s your favorite charity for which to run?
What’s the smallest number of runners you’ve ever raced with?