Matthew Ledbetter was back again this year for the annual July Fourth turtle race at The Foster House restaurant in downtown Cumming.
“I have been racing since I was a little kid and we decided to bring our 3-year-old son Evan for his first race this year,” Ledbetter said.
Returning champion Hayden Densmore was also there with high hopes that turtle “Wolverine” would defend his title.
“We hope ‘Wolverine’ wins again, but I think my other turtle, ‘Hulk,’ will win the race today,” he said.
Competitors had to be 18 or younger to take part in the race, which was free to enter and followed the 55th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.
Once the whistle blew, the turtles were off. A few were slow to start, while others practically sprinted for the finish line.
It was a tight race, but in the end “Bolt” brought home the win in his heat.
“We didn’t think he was going to win,” said owner 11-year-old Jessie Duran. “I’ve never seen him run that fast. I’m just glad he ran as fast as he did.”
The turtle race continues to grow in popularity since Foster House co-owner Patricia Hamby revived it 10 years ago after a brief hiatus.
Turnout was so high for this year’s competition, the race was divided into heats.
The top finishers from the respective heats advanced to a seven-turtle final showdown.
The winners — Zane Colby, Bryson Fields and Casey Ingram — each received a T-shirt and prize money.
Staff writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.