Spring is the ideal time for an active vacation in Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Fitness trails from the river to the sea make it easy to stay fit while enjoying a coastal vacation. More than 54 parks and gardens include the 1.75-mile Wilmington Riverwalk in the historic river district and Wilmington’s new Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, an off-road, multi-use trail with bicycle and pedestrian access to numerous recreational and cultural sites. On the island of Wrightsville Beach, visitors and locals walk and jog along The Loop, a fitness trail that circles the town’s park. Two North Carolina state parks are located on Pleasure Island: Carolina Beach State Park and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, both of which offer hiking and cycling along trails, as well as fishing and other recreational activities. Kure Beach boasts a new oceanfront park and the area’s only disc golf course. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Fear River, and numerous marshes and channels, there are abundant recreational opportunities for fishing, boating, and paddling.
Wilmington is a Bicycle Friendly Community, as designated by the League of American Bicyclists. Bike routes and maps can be found online at www.wmpo.org/WMBPC/index.html. For cyclists, Blue Clay Trail offers an intermediate level mountain bike trail: http://sirbikesalot.com/entry.php?fid=56. Cape Fear Cyclists post ride calendars on their website at www.capefearcyclists.org. Runners can find information on races and weekly runs by connecting with the Wilmington Roadrunners www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org. Surfers can find daily surf reports and competition information online at www.surfchex.com, www.wblivesurf.com, and www.hotwaxsurfshop.com.
With all this activity it’s easy to see why Wilmington is a “North Carolina Fit Community” (www.fitcommunitync.com) and ranks on RelocateAmerica.com’s Top 10 Recreation Cities list (2010). Wilmington and the destination’s fitness-oriented beach towns of Carolina, Kure, and Wrightsville also host sports events throughout the year.
Following is a roundup of sports events:
March 9: Azalea Triathlon. 8am. UNCW Natatorium and campus. http://www.setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_detail&eventID=2184
March 15: SAO Midnight 5k for Ovarian Cancer. 11:59pm. UNC-Wilmington, Wilmington. http://www.active.com/running/wilmington-nc/sao-midnight-5k-for-ovarian-cancer-2013
March 16: 9th Annual Steve Haydu St. Patrick’s Lo-Tide Run. 8am. Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Carolina Beach. http://www.lotiderun.org/
March 16: Quintiles Wrightsville Beach 5k. 5pm. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. http://its-go-time.com/wrightsville-beach-marathon-5k-march-16
March 17: Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon & Marathon. 6:15am. Wrightsville Beach. http://www.wrightsvillebeachmarathon.com/
March 23: Blue Ribbon Run 5k. 4pm. Autumn Hall, Wilmington. http://its-go-time.com/event-registration?ee=52
March 23: Wrightsville Beach Biathlon. 9am. Stand-up Paddleboard and Run. Blockade Runner Resort, Wrightsville Beach. http://wbb.eventbrite.com/#
March 24: Poplar Grove Plantation Peanut 5k. 8am. Abbey Nature Preserve, Poplar Grove Plantation. http://www.poplargrove.com/5k_run.htm
March 30: Bunny Hop 5k/10k. 8am. Pine Valley, Wilmington. http://wilmingtonroadrunners.org/events/cat.listevents/2013/02/21/-?offset=1&category_fv=3
April 4: 2nd Annual Donut Dash. 6pm. UNC-Wilmington, Wilmington. http://its-go-time.com/event-registration?ee=66
April 6: Azalea-Big Buddy 5k/10k/Fun Walk. 8am. Mayfaire Town Centre, Wilmington. 910-392-8180; http://www.ncazaleafestival.org/events/azalea-5k10kfun-walk-2013
April 7: Paws4People 5k/10k. 9am. UNCW University Station, Wilmington. www.p4pwilmington5k.com
April 13: Son Run 5k. 8:30am. Wrightsville Beach Park. http://wilmingtonroadrunners.org/events
April 21: 5k Race for the Planet. 7am register; 8am race. Earth Day event. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach. 910-458-7468; http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher/5k-race-for-the-planet-2
April 27: Coastal NC Run for Autism. 8am. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1052901
April 27: The Great Glow Run 5k. 8pm. Hugh MacRae Park, Wilmington. http://www.greatglowrun.com/
April 27: Step Up For Soldiers Combat Mud Run. 8am. National Guard Armory, Wilmington.
June 13: NewBridge Bank Bridge to Bridge. 6pm. CFCC Schwartz Center, Downtown Wilmington.
May 18: 2013 Patriot Rush 5k & 1-mile walk/run. 8am. Grace Baptist Church & Wilmington Christian Academy, Wilmington. http://its-go-time.com/event-registration?ee=58
May 25: Flashback 5k & 10k. 8am. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. http://wilmingtonroadrunners.org/events/icalevent.detail/2013/02/21/132/-
May 30: Wilma Dash. 6pm. A women’s only walk/run through Wilmington’s historic district. Begins at Coastline Event & Conference Center, Wilmington. http://www.wilmaontheweb.com/Wilma-Dash.
May 18-19: 11th Annual Kona Waterman’s Classic. Longboard surf competition (day 1) & standup paddleboard race (day 2). Crystal Pier at The Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach. http://wblasurf.org/2013/02/20/2013-kona-waterman-classic
April 25-28: Carolina Cup Stand Up Paddleboard Event. A national qualifier race for the World SUP Championships. Blockade Runner Resort, Wrightsville Beach.http://wrightsvillebeachpaddleclub.com/about-the-carolina-cup
August 17-18: Wrightsville Beach Wahine Classic. Women’s surf competition. South end of Wrightsville Beach. http://wblasurf.org/category/events/
April 9-August 17: Wilmington Hammerheads Soccer Season Begins! April 9-August 17. Home games at Legion Stadium, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com
May 18-19: Seaside Soccer Classic. Cape Fear Regional Soccer Park & others, Wilmington. 910-392-0306; www.capefearsoccer.com
May 28-August 5: Wilmington Sharks Baseball Season Begins! May 28-August 5. Home games at Legion Stadium, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonsharks.com