VT’S Best Events: 2017 Black Diamond Award Winners

What’s the best in Vermont? We asked, you answered. This year, we got more replies than any year since our survey started in 2011. For a full list of winners see And 2017 Black Diamond Winners Are…




You have to be tough to live in Vermont and survive winter. You hspartan by mocean365ave to be even tougher to do some of the state’s most grueling events. Vermont is, after all, the birthplace of Joe DeSena’s Spartan Races. While the ultimate challenge, the Death Race, is no longer in play, the Spartan Ultra Beast (held Sept. 16-17) takes its place. The Ultra Beast challenges participants to run, climb, carry, swim and scramble through 50 obstacles (everything from rope climbs to fire jumps to sandbag carries) over a 26-mile course in Killington. Miss an obstacle and your penalty is burpees—lots of them. If that doesn’t sound like fun try the similar Tough Mudder, mountain bike or run 5
0 miles on the Vermont 50; run or ride Circumburke around Burke Mountain; or cycle 40 miles of dirt and mud roads in April’s Rasputitsa gravel ride.


Winner: Spartan Race.  Runners Up: Tough Mudder, Vermont 50 (bike and run), Vermont 100×100, Circumburke bike/run, Rasputitsa. 



As for the “wackiest” events in the state? Getting wet led the day with the Penguin Plunges, followed by pond skimming. In 1996 a few hardy souls jumped into Lake Champlain during the Burlington Winter Carnival and raised $8,000 for Special Olympics Vermont. Today, the Penguin Plunge is Special Olympics Vermont’s largest annual fundraising effort with events in Burlington (in early February) and Stratton Mountain (March 25). In 2016, 1,200 brave souls jumped into Vermont’s icy lakes raising a record breaking $474,000 to support sports training and competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities. There are, of course, lots of other icy plunges held around the state. All for a good cause, we hope. Other events that registered on the “wacko-meter:” the Stowe Derby, for the sheer insanity of skiing from Mt. Mansfield into town on skinny skis and Burlington’s Santa Run (you dress for it) and Color Run.


Winner: Penguin plunge.  Runners up: Pond skimming; Stowe Derby, Santa Run, Color Run.
For a full list of who won in each category click here. 

SKIING & RIDING: Best Ski/Ride Area; Toughest Trail, Best Ski Area Events; Best Backcountry

PLACES WE LOVE: Best Mountain Bike Trails; Best Lakes, Parks & Campsites; Best Sports Town; Best Fitness Center; Best Hotel/Lodge

GEAR: Best Ski Shop; Best Bike Shop; Best Vermont-Made Product; Best Car for Outdoor Adventures

EVENTS: Toughest Event; Wackiest Event

APRES: Best Pizza, Best Apres Bar; Best Bartender; Best Brewery

PEOPLE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE: Best Photographer; Most Inspiring Athlete – Male; Most Inspiring Athlete – Female; Outdoors Person of the Year; Person or Organization With the Greatest Contribution to the Outdoors