Running Rivers is a Colorado nonprofit corporation that has been organized and is operated for charitable and educational purposes, in particular, facilitating the connection of people with healthy freshwater ecosystems through novel recreational events, educational activities and on-the-ground projects.
To accomplish its charitable and educational purposes, Running Rivers offers a diverse suite of events and activities intended to engage people in the outdoors, near rivers, streams, and lakes, educate them about the importance of healthy functioning freshwater ecosystems; and inspire them to invest their time and money towards the improvement of these waters.
Running Rivers conducts recreational events with a focus on physical activity near freshwater ecosystems. Research has long proven that regular exercise is good for human physical and mental health. Recent research has also demonstrated that being in nature, and more specifically, being near water, is also beneficial for human mental health. Running Rivers programs exists to bring all of these “good-for-you” elements together through recreational events that involve physical activity within outdoor environments possessing significant natural water features (e.g. rivers, streams, lakes, ponds). These events provide a forum for Running Rivers to educate race participants about the importance of healthy functioning ecosystems.
Running Rivers’ flagship program is called the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, a novel race series that pairs trail running and fishing. Running Rivers has held officially-permitted Flyathlon events for the past three years under the fiscal sponsorship of another 501(c)(3) organization, bringing more than 200 people from the all over the country (Colorado, Texas, Maine, Wisconsin) to the remote woods of Colorado to enjoy our trails and streams. Flyathlon events engage participants in a trail running and fly-fishing competition within a laid-back environment designed to make fishing and running accessible to all participants. Importantly, Flyathlon events include a freshwater educational component and enlist race participants to fundraise for freshwater restoration and education projects, incentivized with prizes donated by our outstanding sponsors.
Since 2014, we have raised more than $60,000 for cold water conservation projects in Colorado. Importantly, Running Rivers leverages those funds to get additional project funds to extend impact. Projects utilize partnerships with relevant 501(c)(3) and government organizations that have project-appropriate expertise in order to maximize the efficiency and impact of these projects. Running Rivers preferentially considers the following factors in its prioritization of potential projects:
• Projects that focus on native fish species and their ecosystems
• Projects that provide education on the importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems
• Projects that facilitate sustainable access to healthy aquatic ecosystems
• Projects that improve the health of aquatic ecosystems through stream restoration projects and/or restoration of healthy flow regimes
• Projects that utilize Running Rivers program participants as project volunteers