Shikhumba Marathon (Back in the saddle up Dead Donkey Hill)

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[MARATHON #252 / UNIQUE MARATHON #149 / 7 October 2023]

I had not run a marathon for over 16 months courtesy of sloth and a boring neural issue in my knee. Having received a complimentary entry to Cape Town Marathon, I’ve spent the last few months getting marathon fit (or as close as possible to it) again. Then came the inconvenient realisation that my daughter’s birthday was the day before Cape Town Marathon.

I have a newfound respect for government negotiators and their dealings with the trade unions. After a short but intense round of negotiations, I realised that there would be no compromise. Either I flew my daughter and her friends to Cape Town (and convinced the body corporate at my mom’s retirement village in Noordhoek to host her birthday party) or I would have to find another plan.

Another plan was found. The plan involved a 500-kilometre drive to the northern extremities of the Limpopo Province and was one week earlier (meaning one week less to train) but it would have to do. Luckily, a few old running compatriots had the same plan and I was able to tag along with Julian Karp, Don Rukando and Farai Razano (names listed in order of marathons completed – 915, 161 and 101 respectively) on their marathon adventures to the Shikhumba* Marathon.

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Written Documentation is a Terrible Way to Communicate

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I recently presented a talk called “Back to the Feature” at the South African Scrum User Group (SUGSA) conference. The talk playfully references aspects of the Back to the Future trilogy to illustrate how business analysis can be done effectively in an agile environment. This article focusses on one specific topic I covered during the presentation – that written documentation is one of the worst ways to communicate with other humans*.

* And no, the irony of writing a detailed blog post about how poor written documentation is at communicating information is not lost on me!

The first Back to the Future movie concludes with Doc telling Marty, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” I paraphrase this iconic movie quote as, “Written documentation? With what we’re building, we don’t need (much) written documentation!”

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My Big, Fat Beer Belly Helps Explain Quarterly Objectives

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I can’t remember the last time that I had the occasion to wear my smart black suit pants but it was well before the start of Covid. However, International Breast Cancer Awareness Day provided the catalyst to examine a forgotten part of my closet and ‘dress smart’ for a change. The dress code was a simple “wear pink” so out came my suave pink dress shirt and matching tie that I bought in Rome* many years ago.

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Magoeba Plunge Marathon (the Limpopo rollercoaster)

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[MARATHON #233 / Unique Marathon #133 / 23 November 2019]

Part I: Tracey Trolls the Internet

You couldn’t miss the Magoeba Plunge Marathon, there was a constant barrage on social media publicizing the event. This was Tracey van den Dool’s baby and she was a proud expectant mother. I am not sure where she found the time, but it seemed like every free moment was spent thinking of innovative ways to promote the event in the lead-up.

Tracey trolled the internet and every time someone asked a question about “recommended marathons” there was an almost immediate response from one Tracey van den Dool saying, “Come to Tzaneen and check out the Magoeba Plunge”. She also had plenty of engagement with her potential customers, for example when someone said, “Will there be watermelon?”, watermelon was added to the shopping list.

When someone asked, ‘Will there be watermelon?’, watermelon was added to the shopping list. You won’t find fresher watermelon anywhere else.

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Novice Two Oceans Marathon Mistakes: When you’ve #RunAsOne, don’t finish as two!

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Cautionary OMTOM Stories: BN4991

This story was confessed to me by a club mate who made a terrible mistake during her first Two Oceans Marathon in 2004. It still haunts her to this day and she doesn’t want other novices to repeat the same grave error of judgement.

She is still acutely embarrassed by her naïve blunder – so much so that she only agreed to share her story under condition of anonymity. Therefore, I have decided to respect her wishes and will refer to the protagonist of this story under the code name BN4991.

Dare (partially) accepted.

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Tuks Marathon (Earning your undergraduate degree the hard way)

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[Marathon #206 / Unique Marathon #116 / 16 February 2019]

Father Christmas, unicorns, working indicators on BMWs and single-lap marathons in Pretoria. Before 2018 none of these existed – three still don’t.

Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city, is crammed full of bureaucrats and civil servants who like nothing more than to capture everything in duplicate – this philosophy spills out onto the streets with all their road running events being double-lappers. I am not sure whether there has ever has been a single-lap marathon in Pretoria but there has definitely never been one in Tshwane*. Call me a Doubting Thomas but when I heard that the Bestmed Tuks Marathon was a single-lap route I had to see it for myself to believe it. Continue reading “Tuks Marathon (Earning your undergraduate degree the hard way)”

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Doing Your First Adventure Race The Week Before Comrades? I Blame Phuti

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[Adventure Race #1 / 2 June 2018]

Rule #1 of Comrades is “Don’t try anything new on race day.” No one says anything about the week before Comrades but they probably should. I found myself in a dilemma. The ultra-runner’s version of Catch-22: It would be really stupid to do your first adventure race the week before Comrades; but running Comrades is really stupid in the first place.

I was all set for my 9th Comrades. I wasn’t planning to conclude my Comrades taper with my first adventure race. I was planning to be a sensible ultra marathon runner. That’s the honest truth! Life was simple until Phuti got involved.

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Uniwisp Fast 50 (The Fastest Ultra in Africa)

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[MARATHON #179 / UNIQUE MARATHON #96 / 3 March 2018]

The runners in Mbombela like to go down. They have one marathon (Kaapsehoop) and one ultra – and both are certified quadkillers – plummeting you from the highest points in the Lowveld down to Mbombela (in the lowerveld).

How low can you go? You have the choice of doing the Uniwisp Fast 10, 21.1, 42.2 or 50km. Having just done the 50km option (what else!), I can certify that this is the fastest ultra in country and makes Loskop look like Longtom.

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Maritzburg City Marathon (A Return To The Mainstream)

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[MARATHON #178 / UNIQUE MARATHON #95 /  25 FEBRUARY 2018]

As a marathon running connoisseur, I consider small town marathons to be the craft beer of the running world – they’re harder to locate, are a bit more expensive to consume and should always be savoured rather than sprinted. Having consumed five fantastic craft marathons already in 2018, it was with some trepidation that I approached a return to the mainstream for the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, the biggest standard marathon in Kwazulu Natal.

It’s nice to stand in front of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall with just 15km left to run during the Maritzburg City Marathon. Will be standing here again on 10 June (along with 20,000 other Comrades) with a slightly more daunting 90.1km to go.

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