Flyathlon | Run + Fish + Beer

The Rocky Mountain Flyathlon (RMF) has been touted as “Colorado’s Coolest New Triathlon” by 5280 Magazine.

A Flyathlon is an event that combines fly fishing, trail running, drinking craft beer and fundraising for water and native fish conservation….with some of the coolest people on the planet! I first learned about the RMF from my good friend Nancy Hobbs, Executive Director at American Trail Running Association (AATRA). I was in disbelief! And for some reason, I’m drawn to “lesser known sports”. Burro racing, a Colorado Heritage Sport was my last gig. This is where you run a trail race and lead your donkey with a rope for various miles!

I’ve [spin] fished since I was a little girl with my dad, grandparents and cousins. Now, fly fishing is a new sport to me since 2013 after my son started competitive events. I figured if I was going to be out on the water all day, I might as well learn! As cliché as it sounds (drum roll), I’m seriously hooked.

I’ve supported CAIC, MS, Diabetes Research and various other causes in my life as well as volunteered for World, US National and Regional Fly Fishing events plus a dozen or more big trail running events–Western States 100, Hardrock 100, Leadville 100 although there’s something about the Flyathlon that brings my favorite things in life together: running on dirt in beautiful places, fly fishing small creeks and rivers with good, passionate people for a cause. I’m now an official “Flyathlete”.

Three events later, I can’t wait for the next one. The trail running distances vary from 5 miles – 12 miles. The last one I completed in August was in Saguache, CO (12 miles, 3K vertical); let’s just say the views kept me going. There’s also a short course too—7 miles. If you don’t catch a fish during a Flyathlon, no problem, you’ll just receive a 20 minute penalty. On the contrary, if you catch a big fish, you just might trump someone’s place in “fish points”–2 minutes is deducted for each inch. The cut-off times are generous, so even if you are a “riker” (hiker + walker), you’ll likely finish before the bell. There is also a “fish whisper” on course to help you with fly selections and best spots to fish!

Then the night goes on back at RMF base camp….if you catch the smallest fish, biggest fish or are the male/female winner, then you go on to compete in corn hole, horseshoe and a beer can shootout for additional prizes like a custom fly rod. Next, you camp in scenic, remote locations, enjoy delicious BBQ, tell fish stories and drink post-race beer from UpSlope or try some awesome varieties of Three Barrel beer! All of this in cool mountain towns (Creede, CO was my favorite so far) with endless views, new friends…this is what dreams are made of and 110% guaranteed good time!

The Flyathon is a non-profit 5013c named Running Rivers–something special. If you believe in preserving native trout species and waterways now and for the future, please consider supporting the RMF with goods, monies, participating or volunteering! It’s SO worth it.


Where does the money go?

RMF San Luis Valley Projects

Haypress Lake. This small reservoir on private land in the Rio Grande basin has for many years served as the broodstock source for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Rio Grande cutthroat trout recovery program. A small grant from the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon is helping with an engineering study that will ensure dam safety, so that the lake can be maintained long-term as a home for Rio Grande cutthroat trout and a source for restoring the fish into new waters.

RMF Native Cutthroat Trout Projects

George Creek greenback restoration. Leveraged with funds raised by local TU members and a grant from Patagonia, Rocky Mountain Flyathlon funds will help cover the cost of installing a new fish barrier for the George/Cornelius Creek area in the Poudre watershed. The barrier will help secure suitable habitat for greenback recovery upstream.

The last event was a few weeks ago in Saguache, CO on Middle Creek (off the charts trail running and fishing) and raised 27K. These people are the “reel” deal!

You might just be in it for the free beer, conservation efforts or just plain old camaraderie; I love the whole combo! Co-Founder of the RMF and President of Running Rivers, Andrew Todd and his team of volunteers drum up a rockin’ event. This guy is the master mind and creator of fun. He is a dad, husband, dog owner, trail runner, fly fisher and works full-time as a toxicologist for the EPA in addition to holding these events! The RMF is truly a “bucket list” activity.

Gear Checklist

  • Fly Rod (I use a Greys Streamflex 10ft 3wt)
  • *Tippet: Trout Hunter 5.5X or Umpqua 5X
  • *Nippers
  • *Net (I carry the biggest on course!)
  • Salomon or Other Hydration Pack with 20 oz. an hour
  • LifeStraw
  • Food–150 calories/hour (sport chews, bars, dried fruit, gels , PB sandwich)
  • *Flies, duh
  • *Floatant
  • *Patagonia Sun Shirt or other
  • *Eye wear, hat, visor, cowboy hat
  • *Buff
  • Trail Shoes (Hoka Trail or Solomon Cross Tech are my choices)—you can add some spikes “cleats” to the bottom if you want to get after it and wet wade!
  • Capris or longer running shorts (branches and brush are abundant!)
*Vail Valley Anglers has all this rockin’ gear to set you up!

More Resourses

Next Event: There are still a few spots left for the Lake Fork or take a road trip to Iowa for the “Driftless Flyathlon”
Drake Magazine

Guest contribution by Katie Mazzia, Vail Valley Anglers ambassador, trail runner, fly fisher and mom of Jack Arnot. Employed at Vail Health as a registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes educator.