By Michael Boriero
The Kingdom Games is making its return across the border this summer, following a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic that limited the fitness-focused for-profit business from entering into Canada, as well as accepting Canadian participants in the United States.
“This year we have one swim at Lake Massawippi. We used to bike around the lake that was very popular. We’re not doing it this year, but we may do it again next year, just because we weren’t sure whether the border would be open,” said Director and Owner Phil White.
The Kingdom Games runs over 50 days of swimming, running and biking events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships. They vary in skill from challenging high level endurance athletes to newcomers and beginners, both young and old.
According to a press release, Lake Massawippi swimming event will take place on Aug. 8, as part of the NEK Swim Week held between Aug. 6 and 14. Participants will have the opportunity to swim and explore eight lakes over the course of nine days — a total of 46 miles.
There will also be nine windows open throughout the summer for athletes eager to swim from Newport, Vermont to Magog, Quebec. White told The Record that there are 14 participants signed up as of Monday, and there is a build up of excitement since the border reopened.
Participants heading across the border have been asked to fill out the ArriveCAN app. And as a safety precaution, White has used his connections in Stanstead to provide lodging for anyone who catches Covid while in Quebec. He will submit everything in advance to avoid confusion.
“We get pre-approved, so when we actually get to the border in the middle of the lake, often in the middle of the night, we call in and Canadians say ‘welcome to Canada.’ I’ve been working very closely with Canadian border authorities for years,” White said in a phone interview.
Although he hasn’t been able to run events in Quebec since the pandemic, White continued his operation in the U.S. The infection rate was quite low in Vermont throughout the first year of the pandemic, before the vaccines, he explained, so they held events with protective equipment.
“I’m 73 now. I’m diabetic. If I had caught Covid before the vaccinations, I would probably be dead. But Vermont had a low infection rate and they allowed us to do small group gatherings of up to 25 people. You had to wear a mask right up until the event,” White told The Record.
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