“R
un. Fish. Beer. Simple as that,” said Andrew Todd, creator and founder of Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, in an article he wrote late last year. He was describing the sport he created: Flyathlon. Todd is an avid trail runner and fly fisherman, and combining the two sports seemed like a great way to see more remote rivers and catch more fish. In 2013, Todd organized the first unofficial Flyathlon at Colorado’s Monarch Lake where 15 people participated. By 2015, that number had more than tripled, with 50 participants from all over the country who traveled to Middle Creek in Saguache, Colorado for a chance at winning one of the country’s most popular “alternative triathlons.”

Alternative triathlons have grown in popularity in the US, with more races cropping up like the Grand Teton Triathlon, the High Country Triathlon and the United States Adventure Race Association series. The Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, while similar in the respect that it strays from the traditional swim-bike-run layout, differs from these other alternative triathlons. It is a competitive event at heart, but the culture behind the Flyathlon revolves much more around enjoying the outdoors, catching some beautiful native cutthroat trout and drinking amazing craft beer. “Each Flyathlon race is specifically designed to get people excited about recreating in the most beautiful parts of the Western United States, to infuse the stuffy old sport of fly fishing with a youthful spirit and to raise money for and awareness about critical cold-water conservation issues,” Todd said. The charity arm of the Flyathlon has become a major part of the event in recent years. Last year for example, the event raised over $20,000, which was donated to conservation efforts for Colorado’s native populations of cutthroat trout.

Each Flyathlon race is specifically designed to get people excited about recreating in the most beautiful parts of the Western United States.

The rules of the race are simple. A route is predetermined for the trail-running segment that runs along a trout-fishing river. Each participant is timed on how long it takes them to complete the course. You can deviate from the trail at any point to head down to the river and attempt to land a fish. After landing a fish, you then take a photo of it against the provided scale so the size of the fish can be certified. After releasing the fish, participants must head back up to the trail to complete the rest of the run. Overall time bonuses are awarded based on the length of the fish landed, with significant bonuses for landing a native cutthroat. At the end of the event, post-race beers are provided by local Colorado breweries. Todd calls craft beer “one of the finest uses of Colorado water,” and it makes for a great celebration when participants get to the finish line. Higher-ABV beers, like stouts, are highly recommended.

“As a trail runner and lifelong fly fisherman, fusing the two disciplines seemed natural to me, as trail running allows me to explore and fish our remote cutthroat waters more comprehensively,” Todd said, and he hopes to continue to grow the event moving forward. In 2016, he’s added two additional races in Idaho and one more in Colorado, which will be open to 40 and 60 participants, respectively. Registration just opened this week, so start your training regimen now: run, fish, beer, repeat.

The Gear

What we’d bring to tackle the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon.
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FairEnds Royal Blue Cotton Twill Camp Cap $48
Western Rise Eureka Shop Shirt $65
Smartwool PhD 7-Inch Shorts $75
The North Face Men’s Ultra MT $130
Smith Parallel D Max Sunglasses $139
Osprey Rev 6 Pack $100
Patagonia 8-Foot-6-Inch Tenkara Rod $200
Postfly Trout Box Learn More: Here
Yeti Hopper 20 Cooler $291