Adventures in The Driftless

by Nick Berg

Supporting: 4th Annual Driftless Flyathlon Fundraiser for Running Rivers


Campaign has ended.


Thirty-five years ago at three years old my Dad took me camping in Highlandville, Iowa for the first time. I'm not sure if on that trip he thought two decades after his passing that I would be taking his grandkids on the exact same trip every year. We fish the same holes on the same streams and the skills and stewardship that he taught me I now pass on to my kids. I think about my last trip to The Driftless with my Father, and like many events in our lives, i didn't know at the time that it would be our last together. I still remember the last fish we caught together a 14lbs rainbow trout on North Bear Stream. It was the only fish we caught that day, but I still have it in my basement with the black Mepp's spinner dangling from it's mouth. 

Legacy means a lot of things, but to me those yearly trips were his legacy to me. Now, a father myself, I want to leave that same legacy to my children. I have been lucky enough to find a partner that shares the same values and love for fishing as me, and together we have started that journey. I still remember Jen with our youngest only 5 weeks old in his car seat streamside at her feet as she was reeling in fish after fish. Memories like this can only happen if we preserve and protect our public lands and waterways. 

Four years ago I stumbled upon a startup event called The Driftless Flyathlon. It was a trail running race combined with fly fishing, and all the participants took part in a fundraising mission to raise money and awareness to protect, conserve, and repair the  very same land and water that I grew up fishing and exploring with my Dad. 

I hope you see how important this is to my family and me, and if you're able, any donation is so greatly appreciated. If your not able to donate, please consider sharing my story so that maybe it reaches someone that doesn't know about the unbelievable resources we have in the Driftless Region of Iowa.

-Nick, Jen, Elwynn, and Aldric

Event Fundraising Goal: $10,000 Campaign 

Tax ID: 81-1625829 

At Running Rivers, we firmly believe that the best way to ensure the preservation, protection, and maintenance of our irreplaceable public lands and waters is to develop and foster the stewards who will stand up in their defense. Our programs create unique opportunities for people to experience public lands and waters in novel and fun ways, to expand their depth of understanding of the importance of healthy functioning freshwater ecosystems, and to invest in their time, money, and sweat through on-the-ground stewardship projects. The Driftless Flyathlon is a unique, conservation-minded race event that integrates three of the world's greatest activities; trail running, fly-fishing, and craft beer. The premise is simple... 

run. fish. beer. 

Most importantly, the Driftless Flyathlon is a fundraising event for coldwater conservation projects, with a focus on native trout in Iowa. We will be raising money through our 501(c)(3) organization, Running Rivers. Since 2014, our Flyathlon races have raised more than $250,000 for native trout related projects in Iowa and Colorado, completed through our diverse conservation partners, including Iowa Trout Unlimited, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Trout Unlimited, the Western Native Trout Initiative, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  

And while we are a Colorado-based 501(c)(3), rest assured that all funds raised through the Driftless Flyathlon will be spent on projects in Iowa!!!  These are a couple of the projects that were taken on in 2018 with funds raised through past Driftless Flyathlon events: 

  • We have committed $25,000 to support a large-scale water quality improvement / bank stabilization effort within the Yellow River State Forest.
  • We partnered with Iowa DNR to resurface the trails in the Yellow River State Forest to prevent erosion into the creeks and to make the trails more functional for recreation.
  • We funded the construction of an educational kiosk in the Yellow River State Forest that will educate visitors about the importance of this ecosystem and the native brook trout that reside within.  
  • We funded a study that sampled a wild population of Iowa native brook trout for the collection and subsequent genetic analysis of fin clips to assess genetic uniqueness and purity of this population.

To see more projects that have been completed with Flyathlon funds in Colorado and Iowa over the past 5 years, please visit:

Now is a critical time to invest in the preservation of our public lands and waters. Because Running Rivers is a recognized 501c3 organization, your donations are tax deductible. run. fish. beer. donate! 

Running Rivers