Run. Fish. Beer.
> Help Benji reach his fundraising goal – Donate here to the Driftless Flyathlon <
Ryan Rahmiller and Scott Stimmel join us to talk about the Driftless Flyathlon – a favorite annual event of Benji’s that happens each fall at Yellow River Forest in rural Allamakee County, Iowa. Ryan and Scott are not only part of the six person planning crew of the Flyathlon event, but are also passionate fishermen, teachers, and cross country coaches! It’s this “intersection” of running, fly fishing, and a love of craft beer that has fueled the event since 2017 to raise tens of thousands of dollars for cold water conservation in NE Iowa. The original Flyathlon events have roots in Colorado with creator Andrew Todd and the Middle Creek Flyathlon, and then the beginning of the Driftless Flyathlon in 2016 by Brian Kouba – who can be seen in this 2017 piece from Iowa Outdoors.
The concept of the Flyathlon is quite fun – contestants line up at the starting line with their fly rods broken down. For the Driftless Flyathlon, an out and back trail run (approximately 4+ miles) happens along the Big Paint stream at Yellow River State Forest, with the requirement of catching a fish at any point during the run, and enjoying a nice craft beer at the end. It’s those three parts that make up the “Flyathlon”, but of course there is a fun “catch” the race as well – for each inch long of the (biggest) fish you catch, 2 minutes is taken off your running time. Catch a nice 12 inch brown? That’s 24 minutes off your running time – but catch nothing? That’s a 20 minute penalty! This can leave for some pretty fun strategy between fishing, running, and good ol’ luck!
Ryan Rahmiller – Driftless Flyathlon Organizer, fly fishing guide, teacher, and coach!
Since 2017, the planning team of Ryan and Amanda Rahmiller, alongside Clint and Angela Johnson (Ryan & Clint also making up part of the guiding team for Driftless on the Fly), have been organizing the event.
Scott Stimmel – Driftless Flyathlon Organizer, fly fisherman, teacher, and coach!
Scott Stimmel, a teacher and coach from the Iowa City area also joined the planning team after a couple years of competing, as well as Brad Rahmiller. The annual event takes months of preparation and planning – requiring the 75 participants to not only get in on one of the competitive slots for the actual race when registration opens in early Spring (it fills fast!), but for all participants to also fundraise for cold water stream conservation. Over the 7 years the event has been happening, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for cold water conservation projects in NE Iowa via the Driftless Flyathlon.
Click Here to check out the latest stream restoration project!
The non profit entity “Running Rivers” was started by the original Colorado founders as a way to handle fundraising and dispersing funds raised by the Flyathlon events, and has continued to be an amazing partner both in Colorado and Iowa – and more recently North Carolina. But the goal at the end of the day is the same – have fun, meet like minded people, and support cold water habitat conservation.
If you’d like to support the Driftless Flyathlon, Click on this link to visit Benji’s fundraising page for the 2023 Driftless Flyathlon (this page is powered by FlipCause) – or visit:
“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.
Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming