Phil White, Director, Kingdom Games
The Clubhous: 649 Sunset Acres, PO Box 310, Newport, VT 05855 – Phone: 802-249-9100; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristian Pearson, Operations, email@example.com
Peter Channel, All Things Canadian, firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Brynn, Swimming, email@example.com
Jenny McKenna, Cycling, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is one of the very first Geotourism Areas in the world, specially designated by National Geographic. It has long been a mecca for a wide variety of outdoor recreation from hunting and fishing to skiing and hiking. But it also offers a world class venue for all types of endurance sports such as running, biking, swimming, kayaking, and skating.
Our legendary lake region consists of a 25 mile international lake between Newport, VT and Magog, QC and numerous pristine, glacially carved lakes with little to no boat traffic. Many of our paved roads are lightly traveled, “traffic poor” and generally well-maintained. We have hundreds of miles of “vista riddled” dirt roads that beg for a run or a bike, just for the fun of it. We have an agricultural landscape with working farms, forests, and mountains, that we believe makes this area one of the quietly most beautiful landscapes in the world. In the winter our ice is thick and relatively consistent. Our mountains fill with snow for five months.
A series of running, biking and swimming events was started in 2007 in an effort to support IROC, our community’s indoor pool, multi-purpose sports arena, and recreation center. When that effort failed and the facility closed in 2013, Kingdom Games was formed to continue and expand these outdoor events.
Kingdom Games now offers over 30 days of running, biking, open water swimming, and winter swimming events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
Over the years, the Games have drawn thousands of recreational athletes from near and far away. During 2014, for example, 1,382 athletes participated in our events with a total of over 1,688 participant days.
Participants, their friends and families have come from 38 different states (including Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington) , five Canadian provinces, Mexico, Great Britain, India, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Latvia, Russia, and France.
Our athletes range from 4 to 78. 15% to 20% are youth, 18 and under. Well over half of them are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s. Roughly 20% come from our local area. Another 25% come from other parts of Vermont. 55% come from New England, the US, and around the world.
The Great Return
Over 50% of our out-of-area participants return. And when they do, many bring their friends and families and stay for longer periods of time. We encourage them to slow down, come early, stay late, and check out the 10 Things We’d Do if we had an extra day or two in the Kingdom.
Kevin Joubert of Towson, Maryland is just one example. He has swum the 10 mile course at Kingdom Swim every year since we started in 2009. He now plans his summer vacation around the Swim. Our NEK swim week (8 lakes in 9 days) and our multi-day Tour de Kingdom (June Tour and Fall Foliage Tour) give participants a chance to “hang out” and fall in love with The Kingdom.
Youth on the Move
We offer numerous “youth-friendly” options on many of our events. Great for kids and terrific for families. The goal is to engage youth in the excitement of these events and the joy of running, biking and swimming. About 15% to 20%of our participants are youth under the age of 19.
Specific “youth-friendly” events include The Dandelion Run, The Harry Corrow Freedom Run, Kingdom Swim, Caspian Swim, Fly to Pie – Kingdom Marathon (Family Challenge 13 mile bike), .
Kingdom Games is a company modeled on Newman’s Own. We are committed to donating profits to various local non profit organizations on both sides of the border. We also work with these organizations to help raise additional funds from our athletes for good causes. In 2016 these contributions exceeded $3,000. In 2017 we were able to contribute over $5,000 which we replicated again in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 that number grew to over $8,000. In 2021 we were able to donate $6,111. As we grow, we look to see that number grow as well. The Charities include the Halo Foundation, Umbrella, Siskin-Coutts, The Island Pond Historical Society, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont.
The Community of Support
Our events are made possible only by the vigorous and enthusiastic support of some terrific, community minded volunteers who share our vision of the value of these games. Each year over 100 volunteers provide hundreds of days of service. Most volunteers are locals, who value the energy we bring with these games. One couple happily celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by volunteering to make waffles on the beach during Kingdom Swim. They describe seeing their City through a new light, sparkling with energy that brought joy to their day. Some travel from as far away as Quebec City, San Francisco, Maryland, and Illinois to support particular events. It’s a great community of Volunteers. We have fun and we are proud to showcase our corner of the world at its very best.
Kingdom Games would not be possible (and would not be half as much fun) without the support from so many local businesses, organizations and individuals who value what we bring to our community and offer their support to help bring a sense of vibrancy to The Games. Whether it’s the underwriting of The Dandelion Run by Community National Bank or the loaning of tents by Memphremagog Rentals and Wrights Enterprises, it all helps to make it happen.
Since we started in 2013 the following sponsors have helped out, sometimes for one or two years with particular initiatives and some perennially: Community National Bank, North Country Hospital, Newport City Renaissance Corporation, The Foundation Christian Vachon, Jay Peak Resort , Burke Mountain, Kingdom Trails, The Town of Derby, Vermont Sports Magazine, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Northeast Delta Dental, Lyndon State College, The City of Newport, Community Financial Services Group, Derby Village Store, RE/MAX All Seasons Realty, The Front Desk, Brault’s Slaughter House, Couture’s Maple shop and B&B, Memphremagog Press, Eden Ice Cider, NEK Tasting Center, The Ciderhouse Bar and Grill, Louis Garneau, Pick & Shovel, Century 21, Farm and Forest Realty, Poulin Lumber, and Pomerleau Real Estate, Memphremagog Rentals, and Wright’s Enterprises.
And, in return, we are committed to using local businesses for our equipment and supplies, our awards and prizes, our posters, our T Shirts, our banners.
Partnerships are critical to the success of The Games. These are folks who provide us with a venue, bring in their people to support, share the risk in some way, and help to assure that our events are not just races, they are celebrations of the sport itself. And, one of our goals is that these games be beneficial to them as well. They include, The Eastside Restaurant (Winter Swim and Skating Festivals, Dandelion FiddleFest, Kingdom Swim and the Party at Prouty), Ciderhouse Bar & Grill, Eden Ice Cider, and NEK Tasting Center (Winter Swim and Skating Festivals) Kingdom Brewing (Kingdom Swim and the Party at Prouty), Newport Natural Café, Northern Star, Clyde River Recreation, and Newport Parks and Recreation (Kingdom Swim) MIke’s Tiki Bar, Kingdom Trails, Burke Mountain, The Village Bike Shop (The Moose and The Moose Redux and Tour de Kingdom), Passumpsic Savings Bank, The Old Stone House Museum, Barton Area Chamber of Commerce, Parker Pie (Fly to Pie – Kingdom Marathon), Umbrella, Community National Bank, Siskin-Coutts and the Town of Derby (Dandelion Run).
In partnership with Marathon Skating International, we hosted the North American Marathon Speedskating Championships in 2015. They have been partners n organizing and promoting our Memphremagog Ice Skating Festival ever since.
In partnership with the newly formed US Winter Swimming Association, we hosted the first ever, North American Winter Swimming Championships in two lane, 25 meter swimming pool, cut in the ice on Lake Memphremagog. This event was well publicized in the Boston Globe, WCAX, NPR, Atlantic, to name a few, and led to the establishment of our annual Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival.
World Open Water Swimming Association has partnered with Kingdom Swim to host the World Open Water 10 Mile Championships for the next 5 years.
In 2016 we partnered with United States Masters Swimmers (USMS) to host the USMS 10 Mile National Championships.
Many of our athletes serve on organizing committees for particular events. In addition, we have formed the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association, Memphremagog Ice Skating Club, the Memphremagog Winter Swimming Society. They foster a sense of community among athletes and volunteers. Many members contribute as “friends” to help us with our annual efforts to clear ice skating ovals, cut pools, and buy boats and other equipment necessary to host and support our events.
Media and Peer Recognition
Local media’s coverage of The Games has been frequent and positive. Vermont Sports Magazine is both a sponsor of The Games and also has done numerous stories on various aspects of what we are doing, culminating in an article on Newport itself. Adventure Town: Newport’s Northern Exposure. We are proud that our events help showcase our community as a vibrant place to live and visit.
In December, 2013, the Newport Daily Express named Phil White, the NDE Person of the Year for his work in forming Kingdom Games and his commitment to continuing and expanding these offerings. He was also one of four finalists in the 2013 Service to Marathon Swimmers Award by Marathon Swimmers Forum for those persons who give back to support open water swimmers. He has also been nominated among 12 for consideration of the 2014 Man of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association. These nominations reflect the growing appreciation of the value of these games to the athletes and to our community. Openwaterpedia has a page that features Phil, some of his accomplishments and articles written about his efforts.
Charlotte Brynn, Executive Director at the Swimming Hole in Stowe, Vermont, serves as our Assistant Director involved in our open water swimming. Charlotte started with us as a 3 mile swimmer in 2009 and has become a well known and adventurous ultra marathon swimmer, swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog, Around Manhattan, and Catalina Channels to name a few. She has become a great ambassador for The Games around the nation and around the world. Charlotte and her accomplishments is also featured in Openwaterpedia.
Swimmer Magazine (circulation 60,000) now regularly covers our events and our athletes.
Open Water Source has selected Kingdom Swim as one of the top 100 open water swims in the world. It is one of only 12 US swims included on that list. Kingdom Swim, Willoughby Swim, and In Search of Memphre were included on Open Water Source’s list of top 100 swims in the US.
The Daily News of Open Water Swimming selected Lake Memphremagog and Lake Willoughby as two of the 50 great open water swimming venues in all of the Americas.
Readers of Vermont Sports selected The Dandelion Run as one of the five most scenic running races in Vermont. Yankee Magazine selected “The Dandy” as one of the 20 best events of Vermont’s summer in 2011.
Steve Munatones, Publisher of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, had this to say about our development of open water swimming in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec:
Far, far away from the most renowned hotbeds of open water swimming, Phil White has created an unlikely mecca of marathon swimming in Vermont. White has enabled people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to realize some of their greatest athletic accomplishments. He is a dream maker with an endearing smile and a strategic, long-term vision that he has painstakingly executed day by day and mile by mile. His efforts have not only lifted up all the boats in the global open water swimming community, but will provide future generations of swimmers from around the world a unique challenge and enjoyment of swimming in the Northeast Kingdom.
Running, biking, swimming, and skating in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont are now gaining increasing recognition around North America and even around the world. Not only is the potential great, but it is clear that we are already well on our way to realizing this potential.
Our events are laid back, fun, high level pick up games. Challenging for the very best of endurance athletes. Inclusive to young and old, beginner or veteran. Many are less of a race and more of an adventure, with some wonderful, even life shaping, experiences along the way. Great friendships are formed or deepened. And the thrill and joy of completion is evident whether it’s a 4 year old who ran 10K, a 60 year old who swam 25 miles, or a 78 year old from Quebec City who completed the last leg of our Ollie Even Up Triathlon using walking poles. “Most beautiful ride of my life!” said triathlete pro, Pam Aman, after our Fall Foliage guided ride around Lake Memphremagog. “Most joyful and beautiful swim of my life!” said Liz Fry after completing In Search of Memphre, our 25 mile international swim on Lake Memphremagog. “Spectacular!” said 72 year old ultra distance runner, Newton Baker after completing Kingdom Marathon, run on dirt roads at the height of fall foliage.
The venues themselves are beautiful and life affirming. No better showcase for the Northeast Kingdom and the Eastern Townships. Dandelion fields filled with music. Fall foliage and grand vistas. Pristine lakes you can drink from and see the bottom of as you swim. Not to mention the freshest, tastiest, picked-that-morning corn on the cob we offer up for lunch at our events in late July and August.
Best of all: the community of high spirited and good-willed participants, volunteers, and partners who make these games special and rally to the spirit “Just for the Fun of It.”
We hope you will join us as a participant, a volunteer, a sponsor, or a partner.
From: Phil, Charlotte, Kristian, Peter, Geneve, Jenny, and the rest of The Clubhous Gang