Discathon is a racing event covering a course that can be 200 meters to 1 kilometer long from start to finish. Players carry two or three discs that are thrown alternately. A player’s disc must travel the appointed course of mandatory obstacles that must be passed in a specific direction. The player’s objective is to complete the course in the shortest time possible by using a minimum of throws and as little running as possible. A competitor’s time is measured when one of the player’s discs completely crosses the finish line. Special to this event is the fact that a racer has two discs in play throughout the course.
It is best to put up a discathon course in a public park, where many natural obstacles can be found. The drawing below shows an example of how to design a course. The whole course consists of series of obstacles — also known as “mandatories” — which the disc should pass on the left-hand or right-hand side. Here, all obstacles are drawn as trees, but a course can include any number of obstacles and boundaries, such as lampposts, fences, benches and whatever else is available. Some mandatories include only obstacle while others may use double obstacles to create a line or “gate” that the disc must cross. Other key course elements are “tests” — a series of obstacles that must be passed with a single throw. If a player’s disc fails to pass the test obstacles, the player must pass an additional penalty mandatory.
Most mandatories in the drawing are single obstacles, requiring the disc to pass only on the left-hand or right hand-side.
A double mandatory consists of two obstacles, which the disc must pass in between. Examples are the numbers 4, 8, 9, 11 and 24 in the drawing. Sometimes an extra height restriction is added by using tape or rope to create a target or “window” that the disc must fly through, such as a horizontal rope between two trees.
Tests and penalty courses
The accompanying illustration shows a variety of tests. These are indicated by a “T” on the course map. The first mandatory in a test establishes a “test line”; the player must throw from behind that line toward the test mandatory, which can consist of another line, free-standing target (like a hula-hoop) or even a height-restricted “window” created by a horizontal rope and two trees. If the player’s disc travels completely through the test line and the test target, then the player continues the course in order. If the player fails to throw the disc completely through the test mandatory, then they must throw their disc around an extra penalty mandatory before continuing the course. In the drawing, the penalty route is indicated by a dashed line. A test is just a part of the course. Players can choose not to take the test; however they must still complete all of the mandatories, including the extra penalty course.
The discathon finish line is always a double obstacle with a height restriction — like a finishing gate. The player finishes the race only when the disc as a whole has passed through the gate.
The most important rules
At the start players carry two discs, and may carry a third disc to replace a disc that may be lost to out of bounds. Four to five players may run in a single race and are spaced along the starting line. The race starts with a throwing cadence — “Ready, two, one, THROW!”. The players’ next throws are made from within 1.5 meters of where the former disc came to rest. The two discs are thrown alternately. Only when the next throw has been made, may the previously thrown disc be picked up.
Players cannot influence the flight of a disc. Therefore, you cannot touch a disc in the air. There is one exception: A player can try to catch a disc after throwing around a single obstacle. When the player catches the disc, they can play the same disc from that position where it was caught.
When a number of players are running the course simultaneously, they may not intentionally obstruct each other. In principle, the player who is ready to throw has right of way over a player who is approaching.
Besides the obstacles, the boundaries of the course are also indicated. These are natural boundaries such as roads, a flowerbeds or a lakes. When a disc lands outside the playing field, it is out of bounds. A player cannot continue playing with that disc. When he has chosen to carry a third spare disc, he can continue the race with that disc from the position where the former disc left the playing field. When a player has only one disc remaining, he may not finish the race.
Sometimes a player cannot find a disc he has thrown. In that case, he can continue the race with his spare disc (if it is still available) and receives a penalty of 10 seconds. When he already used his spare disc, he may not finish the race.
At the finish, a player must have two discs in play.
Discathon Finals - 2011 WFDF World Overall Flying Disc Championships