If Triathlons were organised like Bad Software Projects

So you decide to sign up for a triathlon and you get told you will be swimming 100m, cycling 20kms and running 5kms – which you figure is okay. You can do that even though you are not the best swimmer out there 100m isn’t that far. So you start training getting ready for the big race, you are lean, mean and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. You have mapped out how long each of the legs will take, you should make it home comfortably, your training has gone well, you have never been fitter.

The day of the race you wake up early, ready to get going but… when you get to the start you get told, “Oh no… we miscalculated it appears you will actually need you to swim 1km but since we haven’t had time to mark out the course properly you will just have to start swimming in that general direction. Marshals will guide the rest of the way.” Ummmm… okay, 1km is a lot further than you expected but the water looks calm and maybe it will be easier than you think, if nothing else you will be able to put that on your CV. So splish, splash, off you go….

Eventually, a few extra twists and turns later due to a lot of misdirection you emerge 2kms later at the official end of the swimming section. Impressed with yourself to have made it that far, you stumble onto the shore, start looking around for your bicycle, the bicycle should be here shouldn’t it, no bicycles. You ask the marshals why and you hear, “Oh no… we didn’t manage to get permits for that, budget constraints you know… so we moved them to the other side of the lake. Does that make a difference?” You want to question why they didn’t move the swim endpoint as well but the blank stares don’t fill you with a lot of confidence and you know prizes are only awarded near the finish line.

So back into the water you go, barely making it to the other side, admittedly a few hours later than you had planned to start the cycle leg but hey… swimming is just not your thing, you can always make up time on the bicycle. You get changed, ready and eager your pull your bicycle off the stand, only to find it is chained to the stand.
“Why?”, you scream
“Security Reasons, wouldn’t want someone running off with your bicycle now would we? The person with the key has left for the day since you were supposed to be at this point a few hours ago, you know.”

Just when you are about to give up, they offer you the delivery bicycle or a kiddies bike with the cool tassels on the handle bars for you to use, just until they can get hold of the guy with the keys. So delivery bike it is, the tassels although cool would probably only slow you down. This time being a bit wiser, you ask if the bike finish and the run start at the same place?
“Sure thing”, they say, “No problem”, they say. “Both are on a beautiful island, you will love running on that island, no cars and lots of wildlife.”

Deep down you know something is wrong and only when you near the end you realize that this transition point is on an island with no roads going on to it. So now you get told you have to sail across to the island, “You are a sportsman, right? There can’t be that much difference between the other stuff you do and sailing, right?” You try explain why that isn’t the case but once again blank stares make you move forward. Your new mantra is “Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards…”

So you set sail figuring out booms, jibs and anchors eventually getting yourself and your bicycle to the island. The beautiful island, ahhh… smell the fresh air… only a 2kms run left, no problem you can do this, “Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards…”. Only 5kms, you can make it, your body is tired, just need to keep walking, there will be no problem. Except….

“Sorry Sir, the island closes in 15 minutes and all boats going back to the mainland will leave then”.
“Why? Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards, Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards…”, you gasp.
“Well sir, it is because of the creatures, vicious nocturnal creatures and the sunset is in 20 minutes.”

So close! so tired! Can’t give up! Can you?

“Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards, Finish line equals Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards, Finish line equal Rewards…”
So there you go running off into the sunset against all odds, knowing that only doom and gloom awaits you, although when you think about it how bad can a few creatures be, especially in a beautiful place like this?

Morning breaks with the rescue parties arriving at the docks. There you sit, tattered and torn, picking something from between your teeth, missing a finger or two muttering something about “rewards and finishing line”


They look at you in amazement but not for too long, the Crazy in your eyes scares them.

2 thoughts on “If Triathlons were organised like Bad Software Projects

  1. Well-written article, I really enjoyed it!

    Hopefully your next software project will be better organised 🙂