In Wilmington, the Gary Shell Cross City Trail offers an off-road, multi-use trail with bicycle and pedestrian access to recreational, cultural and educational destinations. Wilmington’s municipal parks afford a wide variety of sports facilities, including hiking and cycling trails, tennis at the Althea Gibson Tennis Center at Empie Park and golf at the highly acclaimed Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, among others. Local athletes gather for regularly scheduled runs (www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org) and organized bicycle rides (www.capefearcyclists.org). Five public courses beckon golfers and three ocean fishing piers lure anglers. At our island beaches, visitors can take standup paddleboard lessons or join a group SUP excursion.
There are also hiking trails at Carolina Beach State Park, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, and The Loop at Wrightsville Beach Park. Each beach town offers tennis and basketball courts. Carolina Beach has its own skate park. Kure Beach has a disc golf course and bocce ball court. Carolina and Wrightsville beaches boast sand volleyball pits. At any time of day or night, visitors can enjoy a jog on our beaches or a stroll along Wilmington’s mile-long Riverwalk.
Visitors with a competitive spirit will find exciting sports events nearly every weekend from September through November. From triathlons and half-marathons to 5k/10k races, as well as fishing tournaments, tennis championships, cycle rides, and a youth soccer classic, there is something for nearly every sports enthusiast. Some of the state’s largest events take place along Wilmington’s coast this fall when the temperatures are mild, the beaches and roads are less crowded, and hotel rates are more affordable. Approximately 1,000 cyclists will finish the 2012 Cycle North Carolina mountains-to-the-coast Fall ride at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk on October 6. Two large triathlons will take place in Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington: the Wilmington YMCA Triathlon on Sept. 22 and the PPD Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon on Oct. 20. In November Wilmington will host two large tournaments: the U.S. Tennis Association Southern Combo State Championships (Nov. 1-4 & 8-11) and the Beach Soccer Classic (Nov. 17-18).
There are also nearly two dozen smaller sports events from the river to the sea. With all this activity, it’s no wonder Outside magazine (Oct. 2011) included Wilmington (a N.C. Fit Community) among its “2011 Best Towns”.
Here’s a sampling of Fall sports events for those who seek an active vacation*:Sept. 21-23: Newbridge Bank Wild King Classic. Seapath Marina, Wrightsville Beach. 910-512-3637; www.fishermanspost.com
Sept. 21-23: Fall Junior Classic L4. USTA sanctioned 8U to 18U junior tournament. Althea Gibson tennis Center, Empie Park, Wilmington. 910-341-4631; www.wilmingtontennis.com
Sept. 22: Wilmington YMCA Triathlon. 7am. USAT sanctioned race. Wrightsville Beach. www.setupevents.com/?fuseaction=event_detail&eventID=2010
Sept. 22: Autumn 5K Fun Run. 8am. Abbey Nature Preserve, Poplar Grove Plantation, Wilmington. 910-686-9518; www.poplargrove.com
Sept. 27-30: Truong Wheelchair Grand Prix. USTA sanctioned wheelchair tournament. Porters Neck Country Club, Wilmington. 910-763-3947; www.wilmingtontennis.com
Sept. 29: Swim the Loop. Dockside Restaurant/ Harbor Island, Wrightsville Beach. 252-412-5453; www.withoutlimitscoaching.org/swim-the-loop-2/
Sept. 29-30: Carolina Fall King Challenge. Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Johnnie Mercer Pier. 910-538-0115; www.southeasternkingmackrelclub.com[
Oct. 6: Cycle North Carolina–End of Ride Celebration. Carolina Beach Boardwalk. http://cnc.ncsports.org/fallCNCRide
Oct. 6: Run for the Ta-Ta’s 5K. 8am. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org
Oct. 6: Combat Mud Run 5K. 8am. 2412 Infantry Rd., Wilmington. www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org
Oct. 6: Riverfest StandUp Paddle Race. Wilmington Riverfront. Registration 8:30am; race at 10am. Details:
Oct. 7: Run the River 8K Race. 8am race/6:30am register. CFCC parking lot (beside PPD), Wilmington. www.wilmingtonriverfest.com/events/run-the-river-8k
Oct. 18-20: Cape Fear Red Trout Celebrity Classic. The Blockade Runner, Wrightsville Beach. 910-256-4148; www.capefearredtrout.com
Oct. 19-21: Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge. Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. 910-352-0603; www.fishermanspost.com
Oct. 20: PPD Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon. 7am. Ranked among the top 10 iron distance triathlons in the world by Triathlete magazine. Wrightsville Beach/Downtown Wilmington. www.beach2battleship.com
Oct. 27: Pine Valley Delivery Dash 5K/10K. 8am. Pine Valley, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org
Oct. 27: How Far To the Bark Halloween 5K. 5pm. Carolina Beach Municipal Docks. www.its-go-time.com
Oct. 28: Halloween Trick-Or-Treat 5K. 8am. New Balance at Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. www.its-go-time.com
Nov. 1-4 & 8-11: USTA Southern Combo State Championships. Althea Gibson Tennis Center, Empie Park, Wilmington. www.nccombodoubles.com.
Nov. 2-17: Martini’s Fall Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo. Wrightsville Beach. 910-512-1089; www.hookahoo.com
Nov. 3: “Flat Bottom Girls” Flounder Tournament. Dockside Marina, Wrightsville Beach. 910-617-7637; www.fishfortomorrow.org
Nov. 4: Battleship NC Half Marathon & Port Land Grille Battleship 5K. 8am.USATF certified. Battleship NC, Wilmington. www.battleshiphalfmarathon.active.com
Nov. 17: N.C. Surf to Sound Challenge. SUP race. Wrightsville Beach. http://2012ncsurftosoundchallenge.eventbrite.com
Nov. 17-18: Beach Soccer Classic. Various fields in Wilmington. www.socerincollege.com
Nov. 22: Gallop for the Gravy 5K. 8am. Wilmington Family YMCA, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org
Nov. 22: Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot. Race at 8:30am/Register 7:30am. Wrightsville Beach Loop. www.precisiontimingsystems.com/racecalendar.htm#secCALQ9Z4_2
Nov. 24: 8th Annual WRRC Turkey Trot. 9am. Carolina Beach State Park. www.wilmingtonroadrunners.org
*Before traveling great distances please confirm details directly with event organizers.
With four distinct yet mild seasons, Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches offer year-round outdoor recreation. For visitor information, including special offers, packages, featured events and experiences, visit the destination website www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com. For a free official Visitors Guide to Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach, please call 866-266-9690, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.