WFDF Official Rules of Flying Disc Sports
Article V - Discathon
Copyright (c) 1994, WFDF
Last Change: 20 Jul 1994
Comment: Discathon is a race in which players throw their
discs, one at at time, through a circuitous 1 km course defined by a
series of "tests" and "mandatories," which are typically tall trees
and poles. Each mandatory describes a required flight path. The discs
thrown by the players shall traverse the entire course, although the
players themselves need not follow any specific path. The object is to
complete the course in the shortest time possible.
Outline of Contents
- 501.01. Description:
- The course is approximately 1 km in length, typically laid out
within a grassland or wooded area, with marked start and finish lines.
There shall be numerous stationary objects such as tall trees and
poles interspersed throughout the course, of which approximately 20 to
30 will be designated as mandatories or tests. An even mix of
challenging flight paths and trajectories is desirable without a left
or right curve advantage. The ideal course offers the player three or
four tests and many opportunities to save time which, if attempted
unsuccessfully, cost additional time. A grassy, smooth running surface
is preferred with topographical change providing additional challenge
and interest. See Figure 5.1.
- 501.02. Lines:
- Lines indicating the start, finish, tests, and when necessary, the
plane of a double mandatory, shall be between 5 cm and 10 cm wide,
marked with a non-caustic material.
- A. Starting Line:
- There shall be 4 starting lanes, each lane being 2 m wide, with at
least 1 m between each lane. See Figure 5.2.
- B. Finish Line:
- The finish line should be a double mandatory, advisedly 3 m to 5 m
wide and height-restricted. The entire disc must pass through the
plane established by this line in the correct direction for the course
to be completed.
- C. Test Line:
- A line, behind which a player must throw in order to complete a
test. If not a mandatory itself, the test line shall be marked by
cones and have sidelines which extend backward from the ends of the
lines at a 120 degree angle to the line. Both the foot placement and
the lie disc must be behind the test line and within the sidelines
extended to attempt a test throw. See Figure 5.6.
- 502.01. Discs:
- Each player, at his discretion, shall begin the race with two or
three discs, employing exactly two at any given time. Any type of
flying disc may be used so long as it meets the minimum requirements
set forth in Article I of the WFDF rules and the
specific requirements for discathon in paragraph
502.01(B). The discs need not be identical. To reduce confusion,
all players' discs must be distinctly marked on the upper and lower
- B. Special Restrictions:
- For game design and safety considerations, discs in play must meet
both the W.F.D.F. general disc specifications (section
107) and these additional specifications:
- (1) Rim configuration:
- must achieve a rim configuration rating of 75 or greater (may not
be bevelled - see section 108 [D]).
- (2) Weight:
- must weigh no more than 6.7 gm per cm of outside diameter.
- (3) Rigidity:
- must be sufficiently flexible to bend to the point of buckling
when subjected to no more than 9.1 kg (20 lb) of weight in a standard
testing procedure (see section 108 [F]).
503. Rules of Play
503.06. Discs in Play:
- 503.01. Rules in Effect:
- The WFDF rules of play shall cover play for discathon, except as
set forth in paragraph 503.01(B).
- B. Variations:
DD>Discathon may be played with slight variation of the rules
regarding course length, unplayable lies, interference, penalties,
race procedures and/or officiating, depending upon the circumstances
in effect at the time. The variations shall be at the discretion of
the tournament director, subject to the provisions of Article I of the WFDF rules. All players shall be
notified of any variation of the rules prior to the commencement of
- 503.02. Start of Play:
- Players shall be assigned a starting order (not to be confused
with a specific starting group), and started at 4 - minute intervals
in groups of four players. The starter shall have players select lanes
in inverse order of the starting list, and shall begin the race with a
call of "ready...set.....throw". The cadence of the call shall be such
that it is unpredictable. A player releasing his starting throw prior
to the call of "throw" shall be penalized 10 seconds, or may be
disqualified if throwing more than 3 seconds too early.
- 503.03. Play:
- Each player will be timed while attempting to correctly negotiate
the course as quickly as possible. The player begins by throwing a
disc from behind the starting line, then continues throughout the
course, making each subsequent throw from the lie obtained from the
previous throw until his disc completely crosses the finish line. The
player whose throws travel the course in the shortest amount of time,
including time adjustments and penalties, shall be declared the
winner. The responsibility for correct completion of the course,
including knowledge of the designated route and all procedures of
play, rests entirely with the competing player. A player not
completing the course route correctly is to be given a penalty of
twice the estimated time saved or 10 seconds, whichever is greater,
for each such infraction. A player may be disqualified if it is
determined by the head judge that the player's failure to complete the
course route correctly was intentional.
- 503.04. Throws:
- A. Initial Throw:
- The initial throw shall be made from behind the starting line
after the signal is given by the starter.
- B. Subsequent Throws:
- All subsequent throws shall be made from the lie area established
by the previous throw with the exception of the establishment of an
unplayable lie, which is governed by Section
503.05(B) or a self-caught flight. The throw shall be released
with one of the player's supporting points at least partially within
the lie area. The disc determining the lie shall remain in place while
the throw is being made and shall be picked up only after the throw is
- C. Technique:
- Throws may be made in any direction, subject to section 503.07 relating to mandatories, and in any
- 503.05. Lie:
- The lie must be established by a disc at rest, either coming to
rest naturally or by the player stopping the disc's movement once it
is on the ground. A player must make a ground contact within 1.5 m of
the center of the disc at rest during the release of his throw. A
player using any incorrect placement and or throwing procedure is to
be given a penalty of twice the estimated time saved or 10 seconds,
whichever is greater, for each such infraction. See Figure 5.3.
- A. Airborne Discs:
- A player may not touch or catch his thrown disc or otherwise
attempt to establish a lie while that disc is in the air, unless he is
attempting to execute a self-caught flight around a mandatory. If he
catches a disc which has correctly passed through the both planes of a
single mandatory or the one plane of a double mandatory in one flight
while not having broken any of the planes with his body, the player
need not establish a lie, but may carry the disc while making up to
three ground contacts before releasing his next throw.
- B. Out-of-Bounds:
- In the event that the disc comes to rest in an area declared
out-of-bounds, it may not be retrieved. If the player possesses two
remaining discs, he may establish a new lie at the point where the
disc entered into the out-of-bounds area.
- C. Unplayable Lies:
- In the event a throw cannot be made from a lie area such as a lie
in a body of water or within thick brush, the player shall choose to
either retrieve the disc or use one of the two remaining discs he is
carrying to establish a new lie in the following manner:
- (1) Ground-Level Lies:
- The new lie shall be located at the estimated point where the disc
entered into the unplayable area.
- (2) Above-Ground Lies:
- The new lie shall be located as close as possible to being
directly beneath the unplayable disc. If the area directly under the
disc is also unplayable, then the new lie shall be established as per
- D. Lost Disc:
- In the event a player cannot locate one of his discs presumed to
lie in a playable area, the player may declare a lost disc and
establish a new lie with one of his two remaining discs at the point
he estimates would be the lie of the lost disc. After the completion
of the course, the player shall report the lost disc to the
statistician who shall assess a 10 second penalty. A player may be
assessed an additional time penalty or be disqualified if it is
determined by the head judge that the lost disc declaration was
exploited, intentionally or otherwise, to gain competitive
- A player shall carry at least two discs which shall be actively in
play throughout the traversal of the course. One disc shall establish
the lie while the other is being thrown, with the discs being thrown
in alternate sequence.
- B. Third Disc Option:
- A player may, at his discretion, begin the race with three discs
as a safeguard against disqualification in the event of one unplayable
lie, out-of-bounds, or lost disc.
- C. Shortage of Discs:
- If during the traversal of the course a player has only one disc
remaining actively in play, that player may not continue and shall be
listed as D.N.F.
To pass the test, a player must have both his lie disc and foot
placement completely behind the test line and complete the next
"target" double mandatory in a single throw. If the player fails the
test or chooses not to take it, he need not pass over the test line if
it is not a mandatory, but shall be required to complete both the
double mandatory which serves as the test target and an additional
penalty mandatory immediately after the target. See Figure
- A player shall follow the designated flight path, properly
negotiating each mandatory along the path by throwing his disc around
or through the designated area in the correct direction, prior to
proceeding toward the finish line. The proper flight path shall be
designated by an arrow or other signal. A throw passing the mandatory
incorrectly is insufficient and the player shall do whatever is
necessary within the rules to successfully negotiate the mandatories
prior to proceeding toward the finish line. If return throws are
necessary to establish a lie for the correct completion of the
mandatory, they may pass through the mandatory in the reverse
direction, without a penalty being assessed.
- B. Single Mandatory:
- If one object is used to indicate a mandatory, the disc shall pass
through two vertical planes or the indicated side of the mandatory in
the correct order and direction to properly complete the mandatory.
One plane is perpendicular to a line drawn between the mandatory in
question and the previous mandatory, or if there is no previous
mandatory, the starting line. The second plane is perpendicular to a
line drawn between the mandatory in question and the subsequent
mandatory, or if there is no subsequent mandatory, the finish line.
See Figure 5.4.
- C. Double Mandatory:
- If the mandatory is defined as the area between two objects in
close proximity to each other, the disc shall be required to pass
completely through the vertical plane connecting the two objects in
the direction from the previous mandatory to the subsequent mandatory.
See Figure 5.5.
- (1) Height-Restricted Double Mandatory:
- A double mandatory may also be height-restricted, establishing an
upper or lower limit by stretching high-visibility tape between the
two objects which define the mandatory.
503.09. Player Conduct:
The following sections are not exhaustive. Any situation in which
a player may gain an unfair advantage by compromising his
responsibilities to another player may result in adjustment, penalty
and/or disqualification, at the head judge's discretion. A penalty of
twice the estimated time saved shall be assessed in situations where
no other player is directly affected by the violation. A penalty of
four times the estimated time saved shall be assessed in situations
where another player is directly affected. If no time has been saved,
the amount of penalty shall be determined by the head judge, based
upon the severity of the infraction.
503.10. Change of Conditions:
If there has been an obvious change of conditions during the
round, such as a start or stoppage of rain, the times shall be
examined by the head judge to determine whether the change of
condition resulted in a significant effect on times. If, after
removing the scores which represent the worst 10 percent of the times
in each group, more than 15 seconds separates the average time in
each group, results shall be sectioned and an equal proportion of
players from each group shall advance.
- A. Etiquette:
- Players shall make every effort to compete without interfering
with one another. Players, while throwing, shall exercise caution to
avoid striking other players or their discs in flight. Likewise,
players shall make every effort to avoid interfering with the throws
- B. Rights of Way:
- The disc of a player who has established position at his lie or is
in throwing motion, has immediate right-of-way over an oncoming
runner. Further, whenever two players are approaching discs which have
landed so closely together as to cause mutual interference, the player
who has established position first has the right-of-way.
- C. Play of Another Player's Disc:
- If a player picks up or throws another player's disc, the player
using the wrong disc may be penalized or disqualified unless he is
able to correct his error by returning the disc to its original
position without interfering with the progress of the other player.
The head judge may consider a time adjustment or a rerun for the
player whose disc was misplayed.
- D. Unintentional Interference:
- Because of the open nature of the course and the presence of other
runners, officials and spectators, discathon players are vulnerable to
a significant amount of unintentional interference. This includes such
random factors as a disc hitting an animal, a course observer, a
spectator or another racer. The risk of this kind of interference is
part of the course and no adjustments to times shall be made.
- E. Purposive Interference:
- Purposive interference includes any actions committed by
spectators or other runners which are intended to hamper or obstruct a
player's disc in flight, his throwing or running motions, or his
positioning for a throw. This type of interference also includes gross
violations of running etiquette which hamper or obstruct, regardless
of intention, and the carrying away of a disc by an animal. In cases
of purposive interference, the head judge may award an estimated time
adjustment or a rerun to the affected runner at the judge's
discretion. The decision to award a rerun is based on the severity of
the interference and the ability of the judge to accurately estimate
the time loss.
504. Event Procedures
- 504.01. Officials:
- A. Steward:
- There shall be one steward whose duty shall be to call players to
the on-deck area and starting groups to the preparation area and
- B. Starter:
- There shall be one starter who shall start the players by
signaling them to come to the line 1 minute prior to the start of the
race. He shall also signal 30 seconds prior to the start of the race,
and shall give the starting call. At the start of the race, the
starter shall start two watches, then turn them over to the
- C. Timer:
- There shall be one timer who shall call out the finish times to
the finish judges when the players complete the course.
- D. Finish Judges:
- There shall be four finish judges who shall assign times to the
nearest second for discs crossing the finish line, recording the time
on a label which shall be applied to the disc earning that time, then
turning the disc and time over to the statistician.
- E. Statistician:
- There shall be one statistician who shall record all the times, as
well as penalty and net times. Said times shall be recorded as the
individual players claim their labeled discs.
- F. Course Observers:
- There shall be course observers who shall check for potential rule
violations and observe test line and critical mandatories as the
players traverse the course. In the event they witness a potential
rule violation, they shall announce their appraisal, and report any
uncorrected errors to the head judge after the race.
- G. Head Judge:
- There shall be one head judge who shall be in charge of the event,
coordinating the other officials. He shall make all final decisions on
time adjustments, scratches, second runs, and
- 504.02. Advancement:
- The number of players to advance after each round shall be
determined prior to the start of play by the number of entries in the
- A. Preliminary Round:
- Top seeded players shall be spread throughout the entire
preliminary round. Approximately half the field shall advance to the
- B. Second Round:
- The 16 lowest times shall advance.
- C. Semi-Final Round:
- The respective winners of each race of four players plus the
player having the best second place time shall advance to the
- D. Final:
- The five remaining players compete together, the lowest time being
declared the winner.
- 504.03. Ties:
- When ties must be broken, the player who had the lower time in the
previous round advances or is declared the winner.
- 504.04. Late Arrival:
- Players must be at the event site prepared to compete when called.
The competitive order of these calls is to be posted. In the event of
a player not responding to the official's call, the following
procedures come into effect:
- If a player fails to appear for his assigned starting group when
called on deck by the race steward, the next player in the starting
order shall move up and assume the place of the absent player. The
absent player shall be called again for the next starting group. If he
appears, he may start but shall be assigned a 15 second penalty. If
there is no response to the second call, the player shall be listed as
a scratch (SCR).
Controlled Pace: Controlled pace discathon is a variation in
which players move around the course at a speed that is monitored. It
is particularly suggested for grandmaster, seniorgrandmaster and
legend competitions. Each group of players is accompanied by an
official who calls out their throws every thirty seconds. The call is
"throw...one" (at 30 seconds) "throw...two" (at 60 seconds), etc. The
players are to release their throws on the call of the throw number or
within ten seconds after the call. If they do not throw during this 10
second period they must wait until the next call to throw. All of the
players' throws are to be made in this manner with one exception. When
a player intends to make his final throw of the course, he may throw
prior to the call for that throw. If the early shot fails to complete
the course, the player may not throw on the next call (the throw he
has already taken) but must wait for the subsequent call as each
player may only take one early throw each round. Except for the
paced-throwing feature, all the other ground rules of discathon apply.
The play, of course, is quite different, not requiring the players to
run except possibly for the final, early throw. As the players move
around the course, the more efficient throwers move into the lead. The
end of the race is also of strategic interest depending upon the
positioning of the players and their use of the early final-throw
option. On an informal basis players can call out their own throws at
any pace they wish.
Flight Path: The designated route the disc must travel to
successfully complete the course.
Ground Contacts: Contacts made with the ground by the player's
Lie: The place where a thrown disc comes to rest.
Lie Area: A circle with a 1.5 m radius, measured from the
center of the player's thrown disc at rest. All of the player's
throws, other than the initial throw, shall be made from within this
lie area established by the preceding throw.
Mandatory: A stationary and preferably tall, permanent object,
such as a tree or a lamp post, which establishes the required flight
Out-of-Bounds: A designated area such as a street or lake from
which no disc may be retrieved and through which no player may pass.
Supporting Point: The part of the player's body which is
supporting his weight or is in contact with the ground.
Test: An opportunity to bypass the subsequent penalty mandatory by
correctly completing a designated double mandatory in one throw,
released from behind the test line.
Unplayable Lies: Any lie which is in an area with
characteristics making it difficult or impossible for the player to
retrieve the disc or throw.