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Run. Fish. Beer.

How to “win” the Driftless Area Flyathlon.

Run. Fish. Beer.

Flyathlons bring together a subniche of fly fishers, and they raise money for nonprofit conservation organizations. The most recent Middle Creek, Colorado, Flyathlon raised $28,000. The inaugural Midwest Flyathlon raised $7,000. (Clint Johnson photo)

“We’re going to start you off in true Iowa style,” announces race organizer Ryan Rahmiller. A volunteer jogs 40 yards down the trail holding an M-80 and a lighter. It’s raining, but the wick sparks to life with a hiss.

There are around 50 of us at the starting line, stamping our feet against the damp chill and nervously glancing skyward. The race time was moved up an hour, in hopes of beating the incoming storms, but most of us were up late drinking around campfires. In our present state, outrunning the forces of nature is a lot to ask.

I look around, sizing up the competition. Some look like serious anglers, but maybe not avid runners. They pace...

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