AdventureCORPS Presents the Innaugural Cape Fear Marathon & Half on Bald Head Island, NC

AdventureCORPS® – the organizers of the iconic worldwide series of Badwater® races – are pleased to present the Cape Fear Marathon & Half Marathon on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. This is the home of fabled and legendary Cape Fear, and the home to our annual Badwater Cape Fear ultramarathon – now in its 10th year – the “(B)east Coast” counterpart to our two California-based ultramarathon races, Badwater Salton Sea and Badwater 135. The Cape Fear Marathon will take place on Sunday, October 27, 2024, with a 1000am start time, and a 6.5-hour cut-off for the marathon and 3.5 hours for the half. Registration is open now at, with discounted entry until April 30. 

With 26.2 and 13.1-mile race options, Cape Fear Marathon and Half Marathon take places entirely on Bald Head Island and its car-free, one-lane-wide roads, plus a short but spectacular stretch on the beach around Cape Fear herself. The start and finished are located at Old Baldy, the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, while another main checkpoint will be located at the Bald Head Island Conservancy, our local charitable partner.

Essentially, half-marathoners will do one and a half laps of the island, with one .75-mile sand stretch around Cape Fear, while full marathoners will do three laps of the island and three trips around Cape Fear for a total of 2.25 miles of beach running. There will be three aid station locations along the race route, which is more than adequate, BUT this is an adventure marathon in a remote location, so carrying a hand-held water bottle, waist pack, and/or hydration pack is a must. Additionally, this is a “cupless” race, so carrying the provided Badwater race cup is critical.


Bald Head Island and nearby Southport, NC (featured in the film “Safe Haven”) are ideal vacation get-away spots for the entire family, located less than one hour from Wilmington, NC and its major airport with American, United, and Delta service. (Flying into Myrtle Beach, SC is another convenient option.) Runners will enjoy the remarkable beauty and quaint southern charm of this area, as well as this impeccable and one of a kind race experience, no doubt making this race an annual pilgrimage!


Participants are responsible for making their own travel and ferry arrangement to get to and from Bald Head Island. Visit and download the Bald Head Island Ferry app to book ferry tickets.


All entrants will receive a Cape Fear Marathon goodie bag with a Cape Fear Marathon t-shirt, Cape Fear Marathon hat by BOCO Gear, a Badwater race cup as this is a “cupless” race, a Badwater sticker, and Badwater sunglasses. Let us know your preferred t-shirt size when you register!

Finishers will receive a Cape Fear Marathon Medal by Maxwell Medals at the finish line.

Those who complete Badwater Cape Fear (50km or 51mi) and Cape Fear Marathon (26.2 or 13.1) in the same calendar year will receive an additional special award.


Cape Fear – shown above – is a prominent headland jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from Bald Head Island on the coast of North Carolina in the southeastern United States. It is largely formed of barrier beaches and the silty outwash of the Cape Fear River as it drains the southeast coast of North Carolina through an estuary south of Wilmington. 

Cape Fear is formed by the intersection of two sweeping arcs of shifting, low-lying beach, the result of longshore currents which also form the treacherous, shifting Frying Pan Shoals, part of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. 

Dunes dominated by sea oats occur from the upper beach driftline back to the stable secondary dunes, where they mix with other grasses such as Saltmeadow Cordgrass and panic grass, as well as seaside goldenrod, spurge and other herbs to form a stable salt- tolerant grassland. 

Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Italian explorer sailing for France, made landfall after crossing the Atlantic at or near Cape Fear on March 1, 1524. 

The name comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville. Sailing to Roanoke Island, his ship became embayed behind the cape. Some of the crew were afraid they would wreck, giving rise to the name Cape Fear. It is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the U.S.

Cape Fear was the landing place of General Sir Henry Clinton during the American Revolutionary War on May 3, 1775. The 1962 movie Cape Fear and its 1991 remake were set at Cape Fear. 

The legend of Cape Fear lives on with BADWATER® CAPE FEAR, and now the CAPE FEAR MARATHON! 

Source: Wikipedia 


Bald Head Lighthouse, known as Old Baldy, is the oldest lighthouse still standing in North Carolina. It was built to help guide ships past the dangerous shoals at the mouth of the Cape Fear river. Old Baldy was completed by 1817 for just under $16,000 using bricks salvaged from the previous Bald Head lighthouse. A stone plaque above the entrance identifies the builder as Daniel S. Way, and the foundry for the lantern room, that was also salvaged from the old tower, as R. Cochran. Old Baldy was originally equipped with an array of 15 lamps and reflectors, and as technology improved, it later housed a Fresnel lens. It was decommissioned in 1958, but stands as a day beacon and symbol of Bald Head Island. The lighthouse has been restored and is open to the public; come climb its stairs to the top! Since 2014, Old Baldy has stood watch over the Badwater Cape Fear start line. Learn more at


The Bald Head Island Conservancy was founded on Bald Head Island, NC in 1983 with a focus on barrier island conservation, preservation, and education. The Conservancy sponsors and facilitates scientific research that benefits coastal communities and provides numerous recreational and educational activities to the public. In coordination with various organizations, partnerships, and collaborations, the Conservancy has led the nation in conservation and research efforts and is uniquely poised to become a leader in Barrier Island Conservation world-wide. 

Badwater fans and race participants will appreciate that BHIC cares for the pristine setting for the Badwater Cape Fear race route and its role as a seat turtle nesting site and sanctuary. The Conservancy also serves as the host and finish line for our event. As such, our goal is to annually raise $10,000 to purchase one of the special UTV vehicles which BHIC uses to patrol the beach and care for sea turtle nesting sites. 

Since 2014, AdventureCORPS has made or facilitated more than $125,000 in donations to the Bald Head Island Conservancy. 

More info: or click their logo above to donate now!

Register now for Cape Fear Marathon & Half on October 27, 2024!