The BADWATER® ultra running experience returns to the East Coast when the fifth BADWATER CAPE FEAR race takes place on Bald Head Island, North Carolina on Saturday, March 17, 2018.


Bald Head Island, NC – With 50km and 51-mile race options, the Badwater® Cape Fear ultramarathon features a twelve-mile warm-up on the car-free, one-lane-wide roads 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 the wild and undeveloped marshlands of the Cape Fear River 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!

This exquisite natural setting is the perfect antidote to the “real world” and also a wonderful counterpart to the desert sands and mountains of Death Valley and Anza-Borrego Desert featured in the two West Coast BADWATER® races (Badwater Salton Sea and Badwater 135.)

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!

In 2014, eighty runners from 17 states plus Canada, Philippines, and United Kingdom, ranging in age from 20 to 72, competed. See the 2014 webcast here.

In 2015, 115 runners from 23 states plus Canada, Colombia, Philippines, Singapore, and United Kingdom, ranging in age from 20 to 69, competed. See the 2015 webcast here.

In 2016, 117 runners from 21 states plus Canada, Colombia, Philippines, and United Kingdom, ranging in age from 22 to 70, competed. See the 2016 webcast here.

In 2017, 183 runners from from 26 states plus Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Philippines, United Kingdom, and Venezuela, ranging in age from 17 to 71, competed. See the 2017 webcast here.

The 2018 race will feature approximately 204 runners. This includes runners from Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, and United Kingdom, plus from 28 American states, districts, and territories: Alabama (1), Arizona (1), California (18), Colorado (3), Delaware (1), Florida (19), Georgia (15), Illinois (5), Indiana (4), Kentucky (2), Maryland (2), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (2), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (1), New York (5), North Carolina (65), Ohio (6), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (5), Puerto Rico (2), South Carolina (4), Tennessee (10), Texas (7), Vermont (1), Virginia (9), and Washington (4).

There are 70 women and 134 men; 51 veterans and 153 rookies. The age range is 18 to 72.

Of special note, Jay Birmingham, 72, of Fleming Island, FL, will be competing. Jay was the second runner to ever successfully run between Badwater Basin and Mt. Whtiney, back in 1981. This was six years before the actual race on that route, known as Badwater 135, was held. Jay became the second inductee into the Badwater Hall of Fame in 2003, and returned to complete the Badwater 135 at age 58 in 2004, running faster than he had back in 1981 when he was a pioneer of a sport that hardly knew its name “ultrarunning” and for which practically no races even existed yet. Jay’s book about his 1981 run is available for download here:

Here is the race roster:

The Official Charity of BADWATER CAPE FEAR is the Bald Head Island Conservancy, a leader in barrier island conservation, preservation, and education. Race participants and supporters appreciate that BHIC cares for this race route’s pristine setting and its role as a sea turtle nesting site, and are encouraged to fundraise for BHIC and support its mission. Learn more at

Local Sponsors and Partners include Friends of Pleasure Island State ParksBig Spoon Roasters of Durham, NC, who will provide their locally made nut butter bars to all runners. The finish line feast and the post-race breakfast will be catered by Maritime Market. Special home rental offers on Bald Head Island are available through Bald Head Island Limited, Wendy Wilmot Properties, and Seabreeze Rentals, while the Hampton Inn in Southport has also extended a special rate. The event is being hosted under special permits from the Village of Bald Head Island and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

Badwater Cape Fear is the first leg of the BADWATER® ULTRA CUP, which includes Badwater Cape Fear on March 17, the 81-mile Badwater Salton Sea in Borrego Springs, CA on April 29-30, and then the Badwater 135 from California’s Death Valley to Mt. Whitney on July 23-25. Those runners who complete all three full-distance events in the same calendar year are featured on the Badwater website and their virtues will be extolled throughout the Internet and in future editions of BADWATER Magazine.

The March 2019 edition of BADWATER magazine is available for download as a PDF. It is 48 pages long and focuses primarily on our Spring races, Badwater Cape Fear and Badwater Salton Sea, and much more. The cover image is attached. Download it here:

2018 Badwater Cape Fear Race Results (available Monday, March 19)

Official Event Webpage:

Recap video of the 2016 race:

Aerial video of the 2014 race

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About The Author

Jen has been doing triathlon for several years. She is a former bobsled pilot for America Samoa and has a passion for the outdoors; especially winter mountaineering. At home she is wife to a mountain obsessed husband and mother of three girls, but here at EnduranceReview, she is an author, Managing Editor and token chick.