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Turtleman Trek offers live action

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By Nick Schrager

Lebanon has seen more than its fair share of running events over the last few years – and so far, the expansion has shown no sign of slowing down. 

On March 1, Marion County hosted its newest race, the Turtleman Trek 5K.

The run took participants westward on Main Street as they passed the now closed Stillhouse. From there, runners visited sites where the Turtleman has appeared on his show, “The Call of the Wildman,” on Animal Planet.

The Turtleman Trek 5K saw 176 registrants and 30 virtual runners storm the town to run the 3.1 miles. Participants came from all over the region including Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, and of course, Kentucky. 

Not bad for a first time event.

During Ham Days last year, the Pokey Pig (which has been going since the 1980s), saw more than 900 registrants come from near and far.

Sharon “Sam” Bach, the organizer of the Turtleman Trek 5K, said the event was a success. 

“It was awesome and different to be on the other side of a 5K,” Bach said. “I usually just run them. You don’t know how much time and hard work goes into planning one.”

She said she wanted to make a race she knew she, her friends, and others would enjoy.

One of the people in attendance was Josh McGhee of Nashville, Tenn.

McGhee came to Lebanon with his family to meet the Turtleman. According to McGhee, they decided to stay the night in Lebanon and eat lunch downtown. He said the drive for the Turtleman Trek was worth it. 

Last week, the Enterprise reported that races in Marion County have been known to draw a crowd to local businesses. According to Carla Wagner, director of the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission, the Color in Motion 5K had the same effect last year as it brought registrants to local restaurants and a theater production. 

But participants in last week’s Turtleman Trek 5K practically had the theater brought to them. 

That’s because the Turtleman arrived on site well before the race where he signed runners’ bibs and posed for photographs.  He also gave a number of “Turtle dips.”

At the end of the run, Turtleman helped Bach by handing out medals when they announced the winners of each division. 

Turtleman’s friend and co-star, Neal James, also showed up to the event. 

Runners capped the race by passing near Cedarwood Restaurant as they dashed back to the start/finish line in front of the Marion County Heritage Center.

The top male runner was Blake Jones with a time of 17:15.70. The fastest female was Bekah Southwood with a time of 21:22.41. An entire list of the results can be found at http://www.headfirstperformance.com/Results.aspx

A silent auction was also held. Items up for bid included: Turtleman memorabilia, Maker’s Mark wax dipped baseballs, and more. 

The race was a fund-raising event which generated proceeds for the Marion County Baseball Booster Club. Bach said that the race raised approximately $5,000 for the effort and the money would be used for new uniforms and field expenses. 

As the organizer, Bach got to see the whole race develop from start to finish and she said she had already received several compliments about the run.

“When I saw that crowd I saw it all come together,” Bach said. “Then as the racers finished and everyone was smiling and having a good time I knew it was a success. I have gotten several emails and Facebook notes saying it was great. I am so proud!”