2016 Rocky Mountain Flyathlon Rules

General Rules

  • Race will begin promptly on Saturday, August 13th, 2016 at 9:00 am. This will allow us to leave our tents set up at the Upper Crossing Guard Station, complete the event in a reasonable amount of time, and get back to camp for the post-race event.
  • The 2016 Rocky Mountain Flyathlon is officially permitted by the U.S. Forest Service Saguache Ranger District. This is the third official Flyathlon. Let’s maintain our stellar reputation. Please respect both the trail and the guard station. Our reputation as an event is on the line, so please don’t be a jack ass.
  • Water and Skratch exercise hydration mix will be available at the start / finish line. PLEASE BRING A WATER BOTTLE OR HYDRATION PACK to carry all of the water (and your fishing crap) that you will need during the race. I do not recommend drinking Middle Creek water.
  • I do not know what the weather will be like on race day, so please plan appropriately. If it rains, bring a rainjacket. If it is super hot, run in a Speedo, but wear sunscreen. Event is rain or shine, and I will only cancel it if it is dangerous out there. We can still drink good beer.


  • You must start and finish with your fishing equipment disassembled, and have it with you throughout the run. Both courses include an out-and-back section, so it may seem like a good strategy to ditch your gear after you have caught a fish. But we have thought about that, and so my neighbor will be looking to make sure you have your gear at the turn-around point. You may run with your fly rod assembled, but based on personal experience, this strategy can prove costly.
  • The 2016 Flyathlon will be run on fairly remote trails in the San Luis Valley. In the unlikely event that you do run into someone not associated with our event, respect their right to enjoy the area as well. Do not run anyone off the trail, sweat or spit on anyone, steal anyone’s fish and photograph it as your own, etc… There are also frequently livestock on or near this trail (including a rather large bull that sometimes hangs out in a really cool aspen glen). Please give them adequate space, lest you get gored.
  • There will be several checkpoints on the course, strategically placed near locations where you might deviate off of the main trail to pursue fish. Please announce your race number to the volunteer at each checkpoint, and tell them your intentions. If you plan to take one of these other trails to fish, you will need to check back in with the volunteer before getting back onto the main trail (so we don’t lose you in the woods). If you neglect to check in at all checkpoints for your course, you will be disqualified. Please take the time to ensure that our volunteers have acknowledged that you have passed them…
  • The 2016 trails have challenging footing and downed trees in some places, so please do not trip or break anything. I will be running the courses with a hand saw the day before the event, and will try to remove anything of significance.
  • Stay on the trail, except when fishing. Shortcutting can result in a DQ, and can cause erosion. Further, the 2016 courses are not conducive to shortcutting.
  • There are bathrooms at the start / finish of the course. If you are so moved at other locations in the course, do so well off of the trail (but not in the creek).
  • Uphill traffic has the right of way.
  • The trail runs along the creek for most of the course. In the unlikely and unhappy event that you manage to get injured down near the creek, please try to make yourself visible to the trail and call (or whistle, if you have brought one, as recommended) for help. Volunteers at the checkpoints will have radios to let me know that we need to help. They will also have emergency satellite messengers, in case of emergency.


  • The fish portion of the event will be conducted as follows:
    • You must have a current Colorado fishing license to participate in this event! Please take care of this before you get to the mountains, as there is not a great place to purchase one nearby. We will be checking Colorado fishing licenses the morning of the event.
    • Race fishing is catch and release. Particularly if you catch a cutthroat.
    • In an effort to be inclusive of all types, we have decided to allow all types of fisher-people in this year’s event. So bring your spin-rod and run-friendly tackle box if that is how you roll. We will try not to judge you.
    • Your race bib will be given to you on the morning of the race (to prevent cheating), and will have a ruler at the bottom (~16 inches).
    • When/if you catch a fish, you will need to generate photo evidence that proves you caught a fish. You will need to carry some sort of device (digital camera, iPhone, Polaroid) to generate this evidence. Please read a recent post by fisheries biologist and last year’s Flyathlon champion Kort Kirkeby about how to minimize your impact on the fish that your catch: http://flyathlon.com/fish-pictures-101-kort-kirkeby/
    • At the finish line, you will produce evidence of ONE fish at the judge’s table / beer cooler. You may catch more than one while you are out there, but the clock is ticking and you only get credit for one…
    • A crippling time penalty will be assessed if you show up at the beer cooler with no fish evidence.
    • A course-specific time bonus will be awarded based on the length of the fish you have presented (e.g. 3 minutes off per complete inch of fish). Make sure to get a good photo so we can accurately assess the length of the fish in the photo. If the fish is longer than the bib, make sure you get a good photo on something that we can measure at the finish line (i.e. your fly rod, your arm). Course specific time bonuses will be based on how fishy the streams are leading up to the event, and will be announced the morning of the Flyathlon.
    • A 2x multiplier will be added to your bonus if the fish you catch is a cutthroat (not a cuttbow).
    • If you do choose to fish for cutthroat trout above the turn-around point, please ensure that you have NOT waded in waters lower in the course. This is to prevent any possibility to disease / invasive species transfer.
    • Additional rules intended to discourage poor-sportsmanship and/or cheating:
      • Planted and/or dead fish in the backpack- I am a fish biologist. I can tell the difference between living, stressed and dead fish, even in photos.
      • Live fish in the Camelback- Seriously?
      • Fishing sabotage- Throwing a rock into the beaver pond / stream after you catch your fish to slow down your opponent is not just uncool, it is cheating.
      • Team fishing- Catching a fish for your boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse / friend is cheating. Using the same fish in two pictures (on different race bibs) is sad, and easily identified as cheating. If, however, you wish to stop and coach someone who is new to fly fishing (as happened in 2014), please feel free to do so…


  • Fine craft beer from 4 different Colorado breweries and one home-brew will be served after the event back at the Upper Crossing Guard Station.
  • Racers are encouraged to beer-carbo-load the night before. Pretending to enjoy yourself in order to be fresh for the actual race may result in a DQ.
  • Drinkable trophies from Elevation Beer Company (and other fabulous sponsor prizes) will be presented for the following categories:
    • Male winners long and short course
    • Female winners long and short course
    • Biggest fish
    • Smallest fish
    • Top three fundraisers

Thanks again for participating in the 2016 Flyathlon! We appreciate your involvement and support.

run. fish. beer.

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