Now is the Time – Become a Marathoner

April 10, 2017 guestblogger

This article contains few thoughts that I would like to share about marathon track in general and the TCO competition. An obvious but important disclaimer, it is not official at all, just my personal opinion. It was also motivated by gorbunov‘s great introductory article about Marathon Matches.

WHY TCO?

I have already posted a few comments about this in the past, but I never get tired to repeat it, for those who never attended a TCO event: IT IS SIMPLY AMAZING!!! jmpld40 and all the TC staff work extremely hard to take care of every single detail so we can enjoy the event. It is a great opportunity to meet awesome people from all over the world, and talk to the sponsors (major tech companies!). For many finalists, these connections with sponsors during TCO were a life changing opportunity to start/improve his/her career. And, of course, we have a lot of cool competitions!

2017 TCO MARATHON TRACK

For those who didn’t already see, this year we have of a bit different qualification system, in which competitors need to get “TCO points”. Please check the official page.

In short: There will be 3 online marathons. 1st place gets 100 points, 2nd 75, and so on, up to 30th place, who gets 1 point. The online rounds dates:
Round 1: April 12-26
Round 2: May 10-24
Round 3: July 5-19

There may be Lightning Rounds (shorter matches during Regional Events), yet to be defined, which will earn points for the top 10 places (from 20 points for the first, up to 1 for the 10th).

In the end, 12 competitors with the most points advance to the (awesome) onsite final! And the Top 50 will get a (cool) TCO T-shirt!

MARATHONS TAKE TOO MUCH TIME

Partially true! It is much more about ideas than pure time. So it is possible to spend few hours and still come up with a decent solution. And the schedule (usually two weeks) is very flexible. Sometimes when I see my final submission after a while, I wonder how I came up with that.

But it’s a natural and gradual process of improvement. Usually I start with a basic solution, add something here and another thing there, whenever I feel like/can work on the problem. The best ideas usually come when I am not sitting in front of the computer.

MARATHONS ARE TOO HARD

Well, not as hard as it seems! We do have some scary folks around! So the competition level is not easy at all. But I can tell from my personal experience, when I started competing I had this same vision: “It is too hard for me”… With time though, I got experience and confidence, and both of them help (a lot) in this kind of competition! Because of the longer schedule, competitors don’t need to “know” in advance how to “solve” the problem. There is time to research a bit, learn, and try different things, and that is a large part of the fun.

Well, hope to meet you on upcoming TCO17 Marathon rounds!!!


wleite

Wladimir Leite, wleite, is a software engineer from Brazil. In the last ten years he has been working as a computer forensics expert. He is a long time Topcoder member and competed in 8 TCO finals.

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