Schedule of Events
All events and locations are on Bald Head Island, NC. Note that this is subject to change based upon 2021 permitting requirements and COVID-19 best practices.
Friday, October 1
900am: No Host Coffee / Breakfast Meet-Up at Maritime Market. 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!
Afternoon Suggestion: Climb to the top of Old Baldy Lighthouse. (The race will start at its foot.)
300-600pm: Racer Check-In in front of the Bald Head Island Conservancy: Racer Mugshots, Goodie Bags, etc.
ALSO 300-500pm: Social Mixer for runners, staff, family, and friends – also at the Bald Head Island Conservancy. We will serve beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks. (Held concurrent with Racer Check-In.)
600pm onwards: $10 No Host Pasta Feed at Mojo’s on the Harbor (just mention Badwater.)
Saturday, October 2 (Wave starts of 25 runners every 15 minutes anticipated, starting at 630am)
337am: High Tide
600am (recommended) or 700am (risky): Runners not staying on Bald Head Island must depart via ferry from Deep Water Marina in Southport. (Ferries depart hourly from SPT to BHI on the hour from 600am to 1100pm on Saturdays.)
620am: 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!
656am: Morning Twilight (First light in sky)
715am: 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!)
725am: 700am ferry from Southport arrives; it is a ten-minute walk from the ferry to the race start line at the lighthouse. Hurry!
745am: Race starts at Old Baldy Lighthouse
915am: First runners pass the 12-mile mark at BHIC.
1025am: Low Tide
1155am (app.): First runners return to BHIC at 50km mark
230pm (app.): First 51.4-mile finishers
345pm: Mandatory Cut-Off for 51.4-mile finishers to depart BHIC at mile 32 for their second loop to and from Fort Fisher
422pm: High Tide
445pm: Mandatory Cut-Off for Officially Finishing the 50km Race (9 hour time limit)
745pm: Evening Twilight (Last light in sky)
945pm: 51.4-mile Race Course Closes at BHIC (14 hour time limit)
1031pm: Low Tide
1130pm: Final ferry departure from Bald Head Island. (Ferries depart hourly from BHI to SPT on the half hour from 630am to 1130pm on Saturdays.)
Sunday, October 3
830-1030am: Breakfast Buffet at Maritime Market: Breakfast is complimentary for all registered 51mi/50km racers and all official volunteers, and available for $12 to all family and friends of runners. EVERYONE, PLEASE ATTEND! Seating limited to 50.
Other Activity Suggestions: Enjoy a program at the Bald Head Island Conservancy! 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.
Ferries depart Deep Water Marina in Southport TO Bald Head Island on the hour from 600am 900pm on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; from 600am to 1000pm on Wednesday; from 600am until 1100pm on Thursday and Saturday; and from 600am until midnight on Friday – BUT NEVER AT NOON except Sunday.) Ferry Schedule.
Ferries depart Bald Head Island TO Southport on the half hour from 630am to 930pm on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; from 630am to 1030pm on Wednesday; from 630am to 1130pm on Thursday and Saturday; and from 630am to 1230am on Friday – BUT NEVER AT 1230pm 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 your free shuttle ride to the Bald Head Island Conservancy for Racer Check-In from 300 to 500pm and the Social Mixer from 400 to 600pm.
– After Racer Check-In and the Social Mixer, you can either walk about three miles west back to the marina, or a tram will pick up runners at 500pm and 530pm in front of Bald Head Island Conservancy in order to catch the 630pm ferry back to Southport.
– On Saturday, take either the 600am (recommended) or 700am ferry (a little risky as it takes 25 minutes) from Southport to Bald Head Island. Upon arrival, walk about 5-8 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 portajohns and a handwashing station at the start line, but there will be no food or water. Come prepared.
– From the finish line, we will have trams running from the Conservancy back to the marina hourly on the half-hour from 130pm to 930pm.
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!
Please mention “BADWATER” when contacting them and booking rentals.
Staying on the Mainland vs. Staying on Bald Head Island:
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) There are really neat pre-race and post-race events on Friday and Sunday which nobody will want to miss! 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 come to that!) 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!
3) 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…)
4) 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 on race day won’t run.
5) 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 quickly.
All that said, Hampton Inn in Southport (on the mainland) has extended a special rate and the hotel manager will also be at the event as a volunteer for the seventh year in a row! The weblink for the discounted rate will be provided via email to all race entrants.
We hope to open registration via RunReg.com soon. Stay tuned to this page and our email newsletter for further news.
51.4-mile: $199 early entry; $229 until October 30, 2020.
32-mile: $179 early entry; $199 after October 30, 2020.
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) 2021 edition of BADWATER® Magazine
2) Badwater® Cape Fear T-shirt
3) Badwater® Hat
4) Badwater® Sunglasses
5) Badwater® Tote Backpack
6) Support Checkpoints 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, Endurolytes, water, bananas, oranges, trail mix, chips, and more. (See “Route & Support”)
7) Access to personal needs (“drop”) bags at two locations: Checkpoint One at BHIC, which will be passed at mile 3, mile 4, mile 12, and mile 32, and at the most northern Checkpoint 3 at Fort Fisher, which will be passed at mile 22 and mile 41.6 (Drop Bags for Fort Fisher must be dropped at the Hampton Inn in Southport by Friday evening, not brought to the island.)
8) Ambulance on Bald Head Island and EMS / Ranger support on the course
9) Pizza, soup, snacks, and hot and cold drinks at the finish line
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 available for $12 to all family and friends.
12) Up to two 2022 Badwater 135 Qualifying Slots (One each awarded to the female and male 51.4-mile champions.)
13) Race Webcast Page with links to Results, Twitter, Instagram, and photos
14) For 50-km official finishers only: Badwater Cape Fear medal, as depicted below.
15) For 51.4-mile official finishers only: Badwater Cape Fear Belt Buckle, as pictured above.
If you are a veteran of one of our Badwater events, our online results database will have assigned you your permanent AdventureCORPS ID #. Before you go to register for this event, please find your official AdventureCORPS ID #, which you can find by searching for your name here. Please note that it is extremely important that this number be input accurately (if one exists for you) when registering for this event. (If you have no such number, just put a zero.)
Ready to race? Enter now!
PLEASE NOTE: Entry fees are non-transferable. Entry fees are only refundable, less $50, until February 1, upon written request (via email). RunReg service fees are never refundable. Entry fees go up in price on October 30.
The main event is the 51.4-mile BADWATER® CAPE FEAR race. This route* includes 12 miles on Bald Head Island roads and trails, then TWO round-trip runs to Fort Fisher on East Beach, making for 38.2 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.
Also offered is the Badwater Cape Fear 50k (32-mile) Ultra. This route* includes 12 miles on Bald Head Island roads and trails, then ONE round-trip run to Fort Fisher on East Beach, making for 19.1 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 30 days prior to the event.
NOTE: The Badwater Cape Fear belt buckle is only awarded to those who complete the full 51.4-mile route within the 14 hour cut-off. Those completing the 50km route will receive a Badwater Cape Fear medal, rather than a buckle.
Support Checkpoints 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.)
• CP1: Bald Head Island Conservancy (Race HQ): mile 3, mile 4, mile 12, and mile 32.
• CP2: On the beach approximately mid-way between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher: mile 18, mile 26, mile 37, mile 46.
• CP3: Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Ranger Station (the northern end of the route): mile 22 and mile 42.
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 CHECKPOINT LOCATIONS
– 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!
– Endurolytes electrolyte pills by Hammer Nutrition.
– Clif Shot Bloks in several flavors.
– Mini Clif Bars
– Ginger Ale
– Ginger candies
– Saltine Crackers
– Trail Mix
– 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 ONLY, we will have two big pots of yummy soup available from noon to closing: one vegan and one not. At this same location ONLY, 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 NOW – BEFORE YOU COME TO THE ISLAND – IF YOU PLAN TO BRING AND USE DROP BAGS
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 drop bag access at two locations (CP1 and CP3):
1) You need to bring your own bag(s), clearly and securely labeled with your name and bib # (the roster with bib numbers will be posted next week), and the location to which the bag should be delivered (Bald Head or Fort Fisher). If you know you will not want your bag returned, please also label it “DISCARD AFTER USE.”
2) For Drop Bags to be accessed at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area at (CP3 at mile 22 and mile 41.6 at the far northern end of the course), label with your name/number and “Fort Fisher”, but DO NOT bring those drop bags over to the island. Instead, you need to deliver drop bags to the Hampton Inn in Southport (on the mainland, address below!) before Saturday morning at 600am. If you know you will not want your bag returned, please also label it “DISCARD AFTER USE.”
FYI, It is 3.7 miles from the Hampton Inn (which is on the far western end of Southport) to the Deep Point Marina, which is where you catch the ferry to Bald Head Island. Here is where you will drop off your Fort Fisher drop bag (if you will use one):
Hampton Inn 5181 Southport Supply Road SE Southport, North Carolina 28461 (Just take it to the front desk and mention Badwater.)
After the race, Fort Fisher drop bags will be available for collection at the Hampton Inn, NOT on Bald Head Island.
3) For Drop Bags to be accessed on Bald Head Island (CP1 at mile 12, mile 31, and mile 51; drop bags will NOT be ready when you pass there at mile 3 and mile 4), label with your name/number and “Bald Head”. Bring that bag to Runner Check-In on Friday (ideally) or to the start line on Saturday morning (less ideal.) If you know you will not want your bag returned, please also label it “DISCARD AFTER USE.” If you want it back, please pick it up after you finish the race.
BADWATER CAPE FEAR will take place on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. That is Cape Fear in the foreground. It constantly changes shape an size and its shallow depths offshore have waylaid many a seagoing vessel over the century, hence the name “Cape Fear.”
The route* features a twelve-mile warm-up on the car-free, one-lane-wide roads and trails of Bald Head Island, followed by either 19 or 39 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 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!
• 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 30 days prior to the event.
Nearly forty miles of beach trekking 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. Emphasizing self-sufficiency and minimal distractions, there will be just three aid station locations along the 51-mile route. 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.
All runners will run the same initial 12 miles together, back and forth across the island, entering south beach near its western end, and then heading east along south beach to Cape Fear. From Cape Fear, the runners will head north, all the way to Fort Fisher and return south on east beach to the Bald Head Island Conservancy headquarters. Those running the full 50 miles, assuming they meet the time cut-off at the finish of the 50k route, will then run to Fort Fisher and back to Bald Head Island Conservancy again.
Above: 50km runners will run everything you see in red above, while 51-mile runners will do all of that, plus a second north-sound out-and-back along East Beach to Fort Fisher and back.
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 Cape Fear, and Badwater Salton Sea veteran Meredith Dolhare running the beach between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher.
General Race Rules
- 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 30 days prior to the event.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 show 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.)