Schedule of Events
All events and locations are on Bald Head Island, NC.
(All times in 24-Hour / Military Time)
Friday, March 17:
0900: No Host Coffee / Breakfast Meet-Up at Maritime Market Café. Come meet, or reconnect, with fellow Badwater family members while enjoying good drinks and food! There’s no better way, or place, to start the day!
Suggestions for Today: Climb to the top of Old Baldy Lighthouse. (The race will start at its foot.) Attend a program hosted by or at the Bald Head Island Conservancy.
1500-1800: Racer Check-In and Social Mixer Held at the Bald Head Island Conservancy: Racer Mugshots, Bibs and Goodie Bags distributed, Badwater Gear Retail, and a fun social event! Location: 700 Federal Road (far eastern end of the island). Beer, non-alcoholic drinks, fruit, cheese, crackers, and other snacks will be served.
Evening: We recommend dinner at Jules Salty Grub on the Bald Head Island Marina. See all dining options here but note that not all are open in March.
Saturday, March 18:
0528: High Tide
0600 (recommended) or 0700 (risky): Runners staying on the mainland must depart via ferry from Deep Water Marina in Southport. (Ferries depart hourly from SPT to BHI on the hour from 0600am to 2300 on Saturdays- but they often run late!)
0620: Sandpiper Coffee at Bald Head Marina opens extra early just for the runners and race fans coming over on the 600am ferry! Stop in for java and treats!
0653: Morning Twilight (First light in sky)
0715: Late Check-In at the start line for runners who did not come over on Friday to do so. (BUT PLEASE only check-in Saturday if absolutely necessary!)
0725: The 0700 ferry from Southport arrives (IF on schedule); it is a 5-minute (.3-mile) walk from the ferry to the race start line at the lighthouse. Hurry!
0745: Race starts at Old Baldy Lighthouse
0915 (app.): First runners pass the 12-mile mark at BHIC and head onto the beach.
1030 (app.): Last runners pass the 12-mile mark at BHIC and head onto the beach.
1141: Low Tide
1200 Noon (app.): First runners return to BHIC at 50km mark
1430 (app.): First 51.4-mile finishers
1545: Mandatory Cut-Off for 51.4-mile finishers to depart BHIC at mile 32 for their second beach trek (8-hour time limit)
1645: Mandatory Cut-Off for Officially Finishing the 50km Race (9-hour time limit)
1750: High Tide
1946: Evening Twilight (Last light in sky)
2145: 51.4-mile Race Course Closes at BHIC (14-hour time limit)
2330: Final ferry departure from Bald Head Island. (Ferries depart hourly from BHI to SPT on the half hour from 0630 to 2330 on Saturdays – but they often run late.)
2358: Low Tide
Sunday, March 19:
0830-1000: Breakfast Buffet at Maritime Market: Breakfast is complimentary for all registered racers and all official volunteers, and is also available for $18 to all family and friends of runners. EVERYONE, PLEASE ATTEND!
Day Suggestions: Enjoy a program at the Bald Head Island Conservancy, climb to the top of Old Baldy Lighthouse, lay on the beach, go swimming, paddling, or kite surfing, cruise the island on a beach cruiser, shop at the Conservancy’s “Turtle Central” store, relax!
Bald Head Island is only reachable via passenger ferry or by private boat. It is not possible to drive to Bald Head Island; in fact, motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island. All rental properties include golf carts. Ferry tickets from Southport to Bald Head Island include free tram delivery of you and your gear to your destination on the island, then a return trip back via tram to the ferry terminal at the end of your stay. Also, the start line is within short walking distance of the ferry terminal, whereas the finish line is about three miles – across the island – from the ferry terminal.
Ferry Schedule between Southport and Bald Head Island ($23 per person, round-trip ($12 for children aged 3-12); includes free tram ride to and from your island destination)
Ferries depart Deep Water Marina in Southport TO Bald Head Island on the hour from 0600 2100 on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; from 0600 to 1000 on Wednesday; from 0600 until 2300 on Thursday and Saturday; and from 0600 until midnight on Friday – BUT NEVER AT NOON except Sunday.) Ferry Schedule.
Ferries depart Bald Head Island TO Southport on the half hour from 0630 to 2130 on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; from 0630 to 2230 on Wednesday; from 0630 to 2330 on Thursday and Saturday; and from 0630 to 0030am (30 minutes after midnight) on Friday – BUT NEVER AT 1230 except Sunday. Ferry Schedule.
Staying on the Island? Follow instructions given to you by your rental company; you will presumably take the free tram ride to your property, and then use the tram service to leave your property at the end of your stay. You will have a golf cart or two (depending on the size of the house you rented) to use during your stay. There will be golf cart parking available at the race start line for race day: follow directions given when you arrive by VBHI Public Safety officers as to where to park.
Not Staying on the Island?
– On Friday, take the ferry over on Friday afternoon. WHEN YOU BUY YOUR TICKET, tell them that you will need a tram ride to the BHI Conservancy. When you arrive on the island, stop at the podium next to the driveway to ask which shuttle you should take. Then take your free shuttle ride to the Bald Head Island Conservancy for Racer Check-In and the Social Mixer from 300 to 600pm.
– After Racer Check-In and the Social Mixer, you can either walk about three miles west back to the marina, or trams will pick up runners at 1700 and 1730 in front of Bald Head Island Conservancy in order to catch the 1830 ferry back to Southport.
– On Saturday morning, take either the 0600 (recommended) or 0700 ferry (risky as it takes 25 minutes, and could also be delayed) from Southport to Bald Head Island. Upon arrival, walk about 5 minutes to the start line at Old Baldy, the lighthouse, which you can see easily as you walk east onto the island from the marina. NOTE: There will be portable toilets and a hand-washing station at the start line, but there will be no food or water. Come prepared. (However, Sandpiper Coffee at Bald Head Marina opens extra early just for the runners and race fans coming over on the 600am ferry! Stop in for java and treats before you walk over to Old Baldy Lighthouse!)
– From the finish line, we will have trams running from the Conservancy back to the marina hourly on the half-hour from 1330 to 2130.
Bald Head Island is an ideal vacation get-away spot for the entire family, located less than one hour from Wilmington, NC and its major airport with American and Delta service (flying into Myrtle Beach, SC is another convenient option.)
There are no hotels on Bald Head Island, however there are a few hundred vacation homes and cottages, some small enough for one or two couples and some large enough for groups of 20 or more. We encourage all entrants to STAY ON BALD HEAD ISLAND!
But how? It’s pretty simple, really, and it usually works out to be much cheaper than staying on the mainland. Just get together with family and friends, bring a bunch of members of your running club, or find housemates through Facebook: Rent a house together through VRBO or AirBnB or one of the local property management companies such as Tiffany’s Beach Rentals, Seabreeze Rentals, Wendy Wilmot Best of Bald Head, Bald Head Island Services, Bald Head Island Ltd., or others and you’ll have a blast!
Here is the “event” page for Badwater Cape Fear on Facebook. Use it to connect with fellow Badwater Cape Fear runners and perhaps carpool or share houses!
You can also visit this webpage for a listing of all accommodations available on the island.
Please mention “BADWATER” when contacting them and booking rentals.
Staying on the Mainland vs. Staying on Bald Head Island (BHI):
It is possible to stay in Southport on the mainland as an alternative. Featured in the film “Safe Haven,” Southport is a quaint and cozy little waterfront town and is home to the marina from which the Bald Head Island ferries depart and return. If you do stay stay on the mainland, just factor in the following:
1) Careful home rental selection on BHI for a group of friends or a family would likely be cheaper than staying in hotel rooms in Southport and making multiple trips to BHI on the ferry.
2) Racer Check-In on Friday is super fun and includes a Social Mixer hosted by Bald Head Island Conservancy and includes free beer, drinks, and snacks. (Plus you won’t get your infamous Badwater Mugshot if you don’t attend!)
3) Likewise for the Post-Race Breakfast which we host at Maritime Market on Sunday: It’s a great opportunity for a really delicious – and FREE – breakfast and a last chance to swap stories and pose for selfies with your fellow Badwater runners!
4) The whole concept of the event is a Spring Break Vacation and Badwater Family Reunion, but you have to be on the island to really partake in all that! (Badwater races are never just about the running…)
5) Rough water, wind, and/or weather can cancel ferry crossings, so there is a very small chance that one or both of the morning ferries won’t run on race day.
6) The ferry to and from Bald Head Island costs $23 round-trip ($12 for kids), so making multiple trips to the island will drive up your costs.
All that said, Hampton Inn and the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Southport (on the mainland) have excellent rates and rooms can be booked with Expedia or Kayak:
Hampton Inn 4820 Port Loop Road SE, Southport, NC 28461
Marriott Fairfield 5181 Southport Supply Road SE, Southport, NC 28461
- Entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. Please do not ask.
- A 75% Rollover Credit for next year’s event ONLY is available until 30 days prior to the race. To withdraw from this event and obtain the 75% Rollover Credit, log into your UltraSignUp account and withdraw yourself from the event.
- If the event is canceled due to pandemic, hurricane, community disaster, or other force majeure, neither refunds nor credits will be given.
- Although we anticipate using the same route as we have used in all past editions of this event, the final, exact route is subject to approval from various government agencies and may not be fully confirmed until 30 days prior to the event. This event is held subject to special use permits from the Village of Bald Head Island, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.
First and foremost, you can expect a World-Class AdventureCORPS Event Experience, an authentic Badwater race, and the experience of a lifetime. Additionally, entry in the race includes:
1) Badwater® Cape Fear T-shirt
2) Badwater® Hat
3) Badwater® Sunglasses
4) Badwater® Tote Backpack
5) Badwater® “Cupless Cup.” We don’t provide single-use, disposable cups on the race course, but we do give you a custom Badwater cup which you can carry and use on the race course and at other races!
6) Aid Stations in three locations, passed a total of six times in the 50km and 10 times in the 51.4-mile. Checkpoints will serve Tailwind electrolyte drink, Hammer Gel, Ultra Salt by Pure Vitamin Club and/or Endurolytes by Hammer, water, bananas, oranges, trail mix, chips, pickles, pickle juice, and more. (See “Route & Support”)
7) Access to personal needs (“drop bags”) at Aid Station 1 at Bald Head Island Conservancy, which will be passed at Mile 3, Mile 4, Mile 12, Mile 32, and Mile 51. (This is also the location for Racer Check-In and the Social Mixer on Friday, as well as Race HQ and the race finish line.)
8) Ambulance on Bald Head Island and EMS / Ranger support on the course
9) Finish Line Food: Really good pizza, soup, and snacks
10) Friday Afternoon Social Mixer at Bald Head Island Conservancy for racers, volunteers, family, and friends: Drinks, Veggies, Cheese, will be served for all runners and family
11) Sunday Morning Breakfast Buffet at Maritime Market. Breakfast is complimentary for all registered 51mi/50km racers and official volunteers, and also available for $18 to all family and friends. Don’t miss it!
12) All race images
13) Race Webcast Page with links to Image Galleries, Results, Twitter, Instagram, and more
14) Awards: For 50-km official finishers only: Badwater Cape Fear medal, as pictured below. For 51.4-mile official finishers only: Badwater Cape Fear Belt Buckle, as pictured above.
Register Now for the March 23, 2024 Cape Fear Badwater!
The 51.4-mile BADWATER® CAPE FEAR route* includes 12 miles on Bald Head Island roads and trails, then TWO round-trip runs to Fort Fisher on East Beach, making for 38 miles of beach running. This event has a 14 hour cut-off, plus an intermediate cut-off of 8 hours at mile 32 (after one round-trip to Fort Fisher) to finish officially.
Entrants who want to stop running at mile 32, or who miss the eight-hour cut-off at mile 32, so long as as they reach that 32-mile mark within nine hours, will be re-categorized as 50km finishers.
The BADWATER® CAPE FEAR 50k (32-mile) route* includes 12 miles on Bald Head Island roads and trails, then ONE round-trip run to Fort Fisher on East Beach, making for 19 miles of beach running. This event has a nine hour cut-off to finish officially. All runners, regardless of distanced entered, will begin together at 745am.
• Although we anticipate using the same route each year, the final, exact route is subject to approval from various government agencies and may not be fully confirmed until the week of the race.
NOTE: The Badwater Cape Fear belt buckle is awarded to those who complete the full 51.4-mile route within the 14 hour cut-off. Those completing the 50km route within nine hours will receive a Badwater Cape Fear medal, rather than a buckle.
Aid Stations will be located at just three locations, which will be passed a total of six times in the 50km and 10 times in the 51.4-mile:
• Start Line: Toilets will be available, but neither water nor food will be available. (But you can stop at Sandpiper Coffee at the Bald Head Island Marina.)
• AS1: Bald Head Island Conservancy (Race HQ): Mile 3, Mile 4, Mile 12, Mile 32, and Mile 51. Toilets.
• AS2: On the beach approximately mid-way between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher: Mile 18, Mile 26, Mile 37, and Mile 46. No toilets.
• AS3: Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Ranger Station (the northern end of the route): Mile 22 and Mile 42. Toilets.
Tons of more route information, maps, GPS links and more are available in the sub-menu tabs above. You may also view the GPS / Mapping / Pacing files from previous entrants’ real-time data collection during the race at these links:
Pamela Rickard: Training Peaks | Linda Quirk: Training Peaks | Tony Portera 51mi: Strava | Keith Kostman 50km: Strava | Hernan Garcia: Movescount
WHAT WE ARE SERVING at all THREE AID STATIONS
– Tailwind Endurance Fuel drink. This will be pre-mixed at the standard concentration. If you want the powder to mix up your own in your bottle or pack, just ask.
– Hammer Gel in individual serving packets in several flavors. PLEASE do not drop or throw these anywhere on the beach or race course. They MUST be disposed of properly, along with all other trash, or we will not be invited back!
– Electrolyte Capsules: Ultra Salt by Pure Vitamin Club and/or Endurolytes by Hammer Nutrition.
– Mini Clif Bars
– Clif Shot Box
– Cookies, such as “Aussie Mega Bites”
– Ginger Ale
– Ginger Candies (helps with nausea)
– Saltine Crackers (helps with nausea)
– PB Pretzels
– Trail Mix
– Pickle Juice
– Supplies such as Sun Block, RunGoo, Handiwipes, Hand Gel, and Tums.
– We do NOT serve Ibuprofen.
– At Race HQ / Finish Line / Bald Head Island Conservancy, we will have two big pots of delicious soup available from noon to closing: one vegan and one with meat. At this same location, we will also have various types of pizza from noon to closing. These will be made by the fine chefs at Maritime Market on the island.
PERSONAL DROP BAGS: PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY
For those of you who would like to access personal items (clothing, nutrition, special body lubes, gluten-free yummies, photos of Mommy or Honey, etc) during the race, we will offer access to personal needs (“drop”) bags at Checkpoint One at Bald Head Island Conservancy, which will be passed at Mile 3, Mile 4, Mile 12, Mile 32, and Mile 51. (This is also the location for Racer Check-In and the Social Mixer on Friday, as well as Race HQ and the race finish line.) Details:
1) Bring your own bag, clearly and securely labeled with your name and bib #. If you know you will not want your bag returned, please also label it “DISCARD AFTER USE.”
2) Bring your bag to Runner Check-In on Friday (ideally) or to the start line on Saturday morning (less ideal.)
3) If bring your drop bag on Friday to Racer Check-In, it will be waiting for you when you first pass AS1 / Race HQ at Mile 3 and Mile 4, as well as when you return at Mile 12, Mile 32, and Mile 51. But if you bring your drop bag to the start line of the race, it will probably NOT be ready for you when you pass here at Mile 3 and Mile 4, but it will be ready for you at Mile 12, Mile 32, and Mile 51.
Badwater® Cape Fear Route Preview from Badwater® by AdventureCORPS® on Vimeo.
Click the map above to see a large Pdf version of it.
BADWATER CAPE FEAR takes place on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. That is Cape Fear in the foreground. It constantly changes shape and size and its shallow depths offshore have waylaid many a seagoing vessel over the centuries, hence the name “Cape Fear.”
The route features a twelve-mile warm-up on the car-free, one-lane-wide roads and maritime forest trails of Bald Head Island, followed by either 19 or 38 miles of running on the wild and secluded sandy beach between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher. The race is held along the Atlantic Seaboard with spectacular views of the Frying Pan Shoals to the east and wild and undeveloped Cape Fear River marshlands to the west. Running this remote coast is a dramatic, invigorating, and inspiring manner in which to experience the Cape Fear region in all its grandeur!
Running 19 or 38 mile on the beach against the clock, even in this absolutely gorgeous setting, is no small feat. After those first twelve miles on paved roads and trails, it will be just you and your fellow BADWATER® runners amidst the sand, wind, sun, and ocean. There will be three aid station locations along the 51-mile route (passed a total of six times in the 50km and 10 times in the 51.4-mile.) Other than fishermen, you will see almost no modernity and hear nothing but wind, birds, and waves.
This exquisite natural setting is the perfect antidote to the “real world” and also a wonderful counterpart to the desert sands of Death Valley and Anza-Borrego Desert featured in the two West Coast BADWATER® races.
Above: View of the western part of Bald Head Island, including the Marina and the Old Baldy Lighthouse in the center of the photo, plus – in the top right – some of the north-south out-and-back along East Beach to Fort Fisher. And of course that’s the mighty Cape Fear River and associated marshlands in the left and center of the photo. Image by 2019 finisher Gregory Duckworth.
Above: 50km runners will run everything you see in red above, while 51-mile runners will do all of that, plus a second north-south out-and-back along East Beach to Fort Fisher and back.
All runners will run the same initial 12 miles together, back and forth across the island, entering south beach near its eastern end, and then heading east along south beach to Cape Fear. From Cape Fear, the runners will head north on east beach, all the way to Fort Fisher and then return south to the Bald Head Island Conservancy. Those running the full 51.4 miles – assuming they meet the 8-hour 50k cut-off – will then run to Fort Fisher and back again.
Above: View of Cape Fear and the north-sound out-and-back along East Beach to Fort Fisher. Image by 2019 finisher Gregory Duckworth.
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 Delta and US Airways service. (Flying into Myrtle Beach, SC is another convenient option.) Due to the remarkable beauty and quaint southern charm of this area, as well as this impeccable, authentic BADWATER race experience, many Badwater Cape Fear participants are now making this race an annual pilgrimage!
Above: Your faithful race director, Chris Kostman, stands at Cape Fear during his first visit to this incredible location in May of 2013.
Above: Badwater 135, Badwater Salton Sea , and Badwater Cape Fear veteran Meredith Dolhare running the beach between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher. Come leave your own footprints on this incredible beach!
General Race Rules
- The clock, and the race, start at 745am for all entrants.
- There are only two divisions: men’s and women’s, and two distances: 50km and 51mi.
- The clock does not stop for any reason until the race course officially closes after 14 hours.
- Entrants must wear the assigned race number on the front of the body, visible at all times.
- All runners are strongly encouraged to carry a cell phone at all times.
- All runners should keep in mind that the race route is largely remote and aid is provided at just three locations along the route; carrying water and food at all times is strongly encouraged.
- All running while on pavement must always be single file, on the far left side of the road. Be careful of, and courteous towards, golf carts, shuttles, bicycles, and other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Please make your presence known at the three checkpoints located along the route, each time you pass them.
- Runners must progress under their own power without drafting, helping, pushing, supporting, or any other type of physical assistance. Racers may only be accompanied by fellow racers. (No pacers are allowed and no outside assistance of any nature – other than the three official checkpoints – may be received except at the Bald Head Island Conservancy checkpoint, except in an emergency.)
- Remember, at all times and in all situations, safety is the most important issue. This means safety for racers, volunteers, staff, and the general public. The roads and beaches are not closed for this event.
- Please do not litter, mar, or pollute the landscape or environment.
- Please must display courtesy, good taste, decorum, and sportsmanship at all times.
- In all cases and circumstances, it is the intent, and spirit, of the rules which will govern their implementation and enforcement.
- The range of possible penalties for breaking or disregarding rules include time penalties, disqualification, public shunning, loss of friends, humiliation, and/or being forced to swim back to Southport.
- The Race Director has the authority, at any time, to overrule any rule or invent a new rule based on extenuating, unforeseen, and/or unusual circumstances and/or to maintain the integrity and fair play necessary for the successful completion, and continuation, of the race. The Race Director has ultimate authority in regards to all rules, their interpretation, and their enforcement. There is no “appeals committee” nor an “appeals process.” All entrants in the race willingly acknowledge this fact, as well as all other race rules, by attending the race in any capacity.
1. The time limit for the 50km race is nine hours.
2. The time limit for the 51mi race is fourteen hours, with a mandatory intermediate cut-off of eight hours at mile 32 at BHIC. 51mi racers who arrive at mile 32 in more than eight hours (and in less than nine hours), will be recategorized as 50km racers and ranked accordingly.
3. Racers may change distances during the event, switching from 50km to 51mi, or vice-versa, so long as time cut-offs and limits are respected.
Leaving the Course or Withdrawing
- Short cutting is not allowed. Likewise, there will be no allowance made for lost time or miles run in the wrong direction.
- Do not “go missing.” If you must withdraw from the race, please let us know.
- All Emergency Evacuation costs for participants will be borne by that person or their heirs. The race organizers are in no way liable or responsible for emergency evacuation.
Legal and Bureaucratic Issues
- Entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. Please do not ask.
- A 75% Rollover Credit for next year’s event ONLY is available until 30 days prior to the race. To withdraw from this event and obtain the 75% Rollover Credit, log into your UltraSignUp account and request it no later than 30 days prior to the race. If the event is canceled due to pandemic, extreme weather, community disaster, or other force majeure, neither refunds nor credits will be given.
- Although we anticipate using the same route each year, the final, exact route is subject to approval from various government agencies and is always subject to change due to various factors beyond our control.
- All racers and must sign the Accident Waiver and Release of Liability / Release of Name and Likeness. Please open this PDF link, type in your info, print it, then sign it, and bring it to the race.
- Racers agree to abide by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Racers will also abide by all COVID-19-related requirements imposed by local authorities.
- If you have any pertinent Medical History to report, such as drug allergies, diabetes, heart conditions, or other pertinent medical conditions, please fill out the optional Medical History Form, print it, and bring it with you to check-in. Basically, state anything that a medical professional should know if something were to happen to you and you were unable to speak for yourself. If you have nothing to report, you don’t need to submit the form. The forms will be kept confidential and will be shredded after the event.
- All racers must attend Racer Check-In (attending Racer Check-In on Friday is much preferred, but racers may check-in for the race instead at the start line on race morning.)
- All racers must be willing to submit to a drug urine test before (at any point prior to the race, after being officially confirmed for entry), during (at any time), or after the race (up to 90 days after the conclusion of the race). If any WADA banned substances are detected, the racer will be disqualified from competition, listed as DISQUALIFIED FOR DOPING in the final standings of the race, and banned for life from any AdventureCORPS event. Refusal to submit a urine specimen upon demand will also result in the racer being disqualified from competition, being listed as DISQUALIFIED FOR DOPING in the final standings of the race, and being banned for life from any AdventureCORPS event.
The Official Charity of BADWATER CAPE FEAR is the Bald Head Island Conservancy, a leader in barrier island conservation, preservation and education. Race participants will appreciate that BHIC cares for this race route’s pristine setting and its role as sea turtle nesting site, and will be encouraged to fundraise for BHIC and support its mission. Learn more at www.bhic.org.
The goal of this race is annually raise $10,000 for the Bald Head Island Conservancy, which is enough to purchase one of the special UTV vehicles which BHIC uses to patrol the beach and care for sea turtle nesting sites, as shown below.
All racers are encouraged to support BHIC and all money donated or raised by them will count towards this ambitious goal. If $10,000 or more is raised by BADWATER runners, staff, family, and friends, the BADWATER® logo will be emblazoned on the new UTV!
Above: A BHIC volunteer installs a special protective screen around a sea turtle nest, having accessed the location with a special UTV vehicle. Location: East Beach, between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher (along the Badwater Cape Fear race route.)