More than 1,000 runners and walkers hit the beach to help endangered and threatened sea turtles during Mote’s 30th Run for the Turtles today, April 2, on Siesta Public Beach. (Race results below).

“It was so great to see so many kids and adults out here today supporting sea turtles and helping to spread awareness of the sea turtle season, which starts May 1 and goes through October 31,“said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “It was a great day and a great run!”

The Run, which includes a 5K sanctioned by the Manasota Track Club and a 1-mile fun-run/walk, has provided major support for Mote Marine Laboratory’s sea turtle conservation and monitoring efforts. Mote’s scientists will soon begin their 34th year coordinating sea turtle conservation along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches. Mote scientists and volunteers in Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol monitor sea turtle nesting each day during nesting season, May through October.

The Run, a joint effort between Mote, the Manasota Track Club and Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, raises funds to help Mote scientists study and protect sea turtles, which are considered threatened or endangered under federal law.

At the event, participants and scores of friends and supporters brightened up Siesta Public Beach before sunrise, starting with a warm-up workout with Mote mascot Shelley the Sea Turtle followed by a 1-mile fun run/walk and a 5K run sanctioned by the Manasota Track Club.

Runners younger than 9 and older than 80 hit the beach, competing for overall fastest times for males and females in each race, and for the fastest times within each age group for the 5K.

Today Dean Cutshall, now 73-years-old, completed his 30th Run for the Turtles.

He first put his feet forward for turtle research and conservation 30 years ago on the beautiful sand of Siesta Key for Mote Run for the Turtles, and to honor the 30th Run, he wore bib number 30.

“I participated in my first Run for the Turtles 30 years ago, and I kept the tradition alive because number one, the folks at Mote Marine Laboratory are just absolutely wonderful, and number two, I wanted to keep supporting them and their research program that supports sea turtles because I have an interest in marine life,“ Cutshall said. “It was an honor to wear bid number 30 this year, and I look forward to running next year!”
To kick off the awards ceremony, Scott Collins, Mote Trustee, addressed the guests:

“Mote is an international research facility and this run supports the work of the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research program, which has been monitoring and protecting sea turtles for more than 30 years,” Collins said.

Collins noted that Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research program has monitored over 61,000 turtle activities on our beaches and protected more than 2 million eggs.

Collins said this year’s run would not have been possible without the Manasota Track Club, the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation and all of the funding partners. He recognized two organizations, Positive Tracks and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, that matched dollar-for-dollar all donations that were raised and contributed by the youth that is participated in the run.

Ray Shedd, Director of Partnerships & Marketing of Positive Tracks said, “Positive Tracks is delighted to support Mote’s Run for the Turtles, and promoting youth getting active and giving back during this phenomenal event,” Shedd said.

Shedd noted that last year the event raised over $50,000 for sea turtle conservation and research, and $20,000 of that was raised by youth participants alone.

“We are so proud of all the families that came out today, stepped out of their comfort zones and challenged themselves to give back and support Mote,” Shedd said.

Mark Pritchett, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, invited young participants to the stage during the awards ceremony.

“It was rewarding to see the amount of youth who came out on this beautiful day to stay active and support Mote,” Pritchett said.

Pritchett recognized Girls on the Run, which had 5 teams participating in the run – the most teams any organization had.

“On behalf of Gulf Coast, we are happy to match dollar-for-dollar everything that these young women have raised, and also the young men and other youths who did such a fantastic job,” said Pritchett.

Other local youths raised funds on their own or in teams — bouncing on pogo sticks for pennies, talking to others about the importance of sea turtles and using other fun approaches. Youth donations are currently being tallied.

Support the Mote’s sea turtle conservation and monitoring efforts with a donation.

Mote thanks the sponsors who made this event possible, including: Postive Tracks, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Brighthouse Networks, ABC 7, Kids Serve, Mosaic, Mote Scientific Foundation, Crunch Fitness, Family Beautiful, Lynches Pub & Grub, Microsoft, New Balance/Fleet Feet Sports, Rogers Family Foundation, Cooper Creek Dental, Dean Cutshall, Deep Sea Diner, Edward Jones Investments, KoalaTee, Starbucks, Joseph Strong, Westbridge Veterinary Clinic, Wilde Insurance Services, Gerry and Mary Ann Beard, Joan L Osgood LMT , Uniquity of St. Armands, Vanessa’s Fine Jewelry, Albritton’s, SaraJane and William Bush, Einstein Bros Bagels, Florida State Massage Therapy Association, Linda and Kumar Mahadevan, Publix, Becky and Gordon Rose, Subway, Tropicana Products, Inc and Z Entertainment.

Race Results

5K winners:
Overall male winner: Richmond Stoltzfus, age 16, time: 17:30
Overall female winner:  Rachel Chambers, age 43, time: 21:05

1-Mile Fun Run/Walk winners:
Male winner: Ian Crisenbery age 11
Female winner: Hannah Daniel, age 15

For a complete list of finalized results from each age category visit Manasota Track Club and at AccuChip Timing.

Sea turtle nesting tips:

As we approach the first day of nesting season, May 1, please keep the following tips in mind to protect sea turtles:


  • If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
  • Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
  • Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
  • Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
  • Place trash in its proper place.

Do Not:

  • Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
  • Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
  • Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
  • Use fireworks on the beach.

Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff’s department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Program at 388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 888-345-2335.