Now on Facebook/Monthly Contests coming in 2016

I have no established a Facebook page, please go an like it at: “Emerald Coast Runner.”

Also, with my blog I’m going to start a monthly giveaway contest!  So you’ll definitely want to get signed up to my Facebook page!

Cheers to all!  See you in 2016!

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Until Every Runner Finishes

Leave no runner behind!!!

I’m really talking about the runners during a race!  Yes we have group runs and when you run as a group you try to not to leave anyone behind but I’m looking at races.

Specifically the local 5K’s and 10K’s that are locally.  Usually the party is somewhere else and not near the finish line.  Runners will move away from the finish line and go get their beer/food somewhere else and not cheer on those who are coming across the finish line.

There is beauty in watching the back of the pack-ers and all runners really.  Some individuals are running and do not have someone cheering them on (like family or friends).  The back of the pack-ers may get to the finish line and not a single person was there.  I was at a race recently and the lady who was in dead last was so worried that the finish line was going to be shut down and there would be no clock.  She had a great story about how this was her first year racing and this was only her second 10K out of her 7 races this year.  It was so wonderful to go back and run her in the final 3 quarters of a mile of the race with her.  Yet, when she finished, no one was there to see her finish but the finish line crew (around 5 people).

All the runners had moved on away from the race. It was relatively sad.  Granted, I know people had things to do (get back to families, work, other prior engagements) but the party was a quarter mile away from the finish and not a single runner was there to cheer on the few final people.  It made me sad.  I have been the race director for a half-marathon and an 8K before…I was there for every finisher and made it even more apparent to be there for the final finishers.  So many races I have been to this year, I have been there for the finish…or just the guy that showed up and took random photos of all the runners so they had a photo.  I’ve given a lot of my time this year that has not been bragged about it or made it public knowledge.

I’m not perfect and never think I am (I won’t keep a tally of my faults…that’s for anyone who wants to waste time judging.) Yes, I may have made comments that “beer was more important for 900 people than cheering on the final racers” in a recent Facebook post…but it wasn’t to attack anyone because I understand people have busy lives.  If anyone was upset, it’s not visually apparent and I’m hoping no one is.  My comments reflected being upset that 900 people were at the race and no one was there for the final finishers.  There is a problem with that situation.

My wish is for more runners to (if they choose to go get beer, food, massages, pictures to come back) cheer on those final racers!  They are out there working so hard and have so many wonderful stories.  The final racers should be getting more cheers than the first runners.  They work hard and there is such joy watching the final racers! Let them know you are proud of them!!!  It’s time for us to think of races (at least the 5K’s and 10K’s) as a group run and stick around for the final races.  I love ultras/trail runs where we stick around for the final finishers.  Maybe that’s why I write this post.

Cottonmouth 100 Miler – Race Report

Date of race: 14 November 2015
Starting Location: Bear Lake, Milton, FL
Number of starters:28 / Number of finishers: 9.
Result: DNF at 59.4 miles

My 2nd attempt at the 100 Miler and again I DNF’d.  But, I do not feel I failed.  My heart was crushed by calling the race at 59.4 miles (though  I’m positive I ran 62 miles due to getting lost.)

Race route details:
The run was on primarily the Florida Trail from Bear Lake south to downtown Milton over to Hurricane Lake, to Alabama, back to Hurricane Lake, over to Karick Lake and back to Bear Lake.  Total distance would be 102 miles.

Day Before Race:
The day before I would go drop off four drop bags.  One back would be at the Juniper Creek (Mile 10.6 and 36.6), Peaden Bridge (Mile 50.4, Mile 91.7), Florida/Alabama Border (Mile 66.4) and at Karick Lake (Mile 84.05).  Dropped off four bags with tape on all the bags and dropped them off.  Grabbed my bib and the race bag and talked to the race director and his wife (the volunteer coordinator).  Then made my way back to hear about the horrific events that happened in Paris.  So I put a drew on my bib “pour Paris” and the French flag.  Thinking about those the next day while I ran.

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Day of the Race:

12219576_10207932250567959_2603176763561179678_nI checked into the race after driving 45 minutes from home to the start.  Last minute fuel and coffee and chatting with fellow runners.  The race started off on a beautiful day in Florida (sunny and a little chilly).  We got off 2 minutes late, which was absolutely okay.  Nothing wrong with this!  We had rain a week before which later on we would see mini puddles (or troughs ha ha) on the trails that would result in not being able to get around them.

My original plan was to just go into this race at a 20 minute run/10 minute walk pace.  Yet, I got caught up with the number of runners we had and some good people that I changed my game plan immediately when I started and hooked onto Dale (who was pushing for his first) and Mary (who has done multiple 100s).

12249656_10156320678995245_7165216159165592697_nMile 10

We took off and after the first 10 miles we got to our 2nd aid station (of 17) and the first drop bag location.  I didn’t need anything at this point so I just grabbed my Tailwind and grabbed some potato chips and Coke and made my way out to the woods and caught up with Dale and Mary. The trails were wonderful that morning and I was thoroughly enjoying this race.  Determined!

The next part of the run was to an aid station 8ish miles away at a place called Deaton Bridge. This would be the stop at 18.2 miles and 29 miles in. By the time we got within a mile of the this location we had already ran into the front runner coming back.  Very impressive!  We had barely walked and were enjoying the trails and the beauty along Juniper Creek headed south.  When we made it to the aid station we were not DFL and still doing very well!  Under Sub 24:00 pace, which was impressive but it didn’t matter to me, it was nice but the goal was to finish.  🙂

11115612_10156306468155245_3470945144445556113_oMile 18

After we got past this aid station we made our way towards our next aid station which was 5.4 miles away.  It was located along the train tracks and the furthest south we would go before heading back north towards Alabama.  It was an interesting stretch of the run.  A magical looking area where there were new pine trees growing and I wish I had take a photo of the beauty of this part of the trail.  That lasted for about 2-3 miles before going flat and headed towards a power line section where we ran underneath them to get back to more trails.  We would run along an area with very dry wood chips laid all over the place but I cannot describe the way the wood chips were.  They were almost solid like petrified wood.  It was weird.  We made it to the aid station finally and picked up one runner. This would make us all DFL, four of us sticking together for a few miles until we got back to Deaten Bridge again.  Again, the goal is to finish.

12249871_10156307272540245_7242578523755764823_n.jpgAid station and my drop bag.

We actually had caught up a little bit at this point (mile 29) and were still pushing sub 24:00.  We took a few things, took a restroom break and pushed forward to the next aid station.  The one individual with us would push away from us.  We ran into some Boy Scouts who were setting up camp and thought we were crazy.  Yes we were and would eventually make it back to the first drop back location (Juniper Creek North Trailhead).  Here we would grab some stuff and change clothes because our next aid station was 7 miles away and sunlight would soon hit.  This is the first mistake I learned for a 100 miler (always pack a headlamp in all drop bags). I was not prepared for this and thankfully Dale had a backup light for me to use when we needed it.  We would later run into a Bo (race director for Bear Bait Ultras [the first ultras I ran in Florida when I arrived]) who came out and took photos of us.  We would arrive at Bear Lake Jackson Connector (first aid station) right when the sun finally was down.

Coming into this aid station I was happy that Dale had the extra headlamp for me.  This aid station was a welcome as they had Mountain Dew and I needed some energy boost before heading back out.  We took off and it was a little confusing as to where we had to go but the aid station pointed us in the right direction and we headed off into the woods looking for the next aid station which was at mile 50.  This was when things started to get crazy.  We ran for a little bit and then we ended up to County Line Road (our first area of road we would have to run).  We unfortunately got lost and lost about 20-30 minutes and only went .5 miles in the wrong direction.  The directions in the race manual were confusing and there were not lights on Hwy 4 where we couldn’t figure out where to go. We went towards Bear Lake (where we started) but it was wrong, we had to go into Okaloosa County.  There were no markings once we got to the end of the road, or visible markings in the dark.  If we had crossed the highway, we would have seen the sign had tape to get us in the right direction.  Again, super dark area and we lost a lot of time in this area.

Once we got in the right direction things started to get complicated from here on out.  We would pick up a new runner who was getting lost as well and did the same thing as us (went the wrong way).  We would eventually get back on the right trail and would eventually hit troughs (big puddles) of water along the course and would eventually make it to the Paeden Bridge aid station.  It took a while but we definitely lost a lot of time in this area as there were so many turns and confusing parts to this area in the dark.  Before the bridge, we were at another bridge  (probably a mile before) and we didn’t see our trailhead entrance until we started searching in the distant woods and finally found it again.  Lost and confused it was starting to become frustrating.

Finally at Paeden Bridge (mile: 50.4/but not halfway done) we would meet up with a few runners. One runner would drop here (but not with our group) and we had a great aid station crew here.  We were able to grab new clothes (as this was drop bag #2) and fuel up. Here I wish I had changed my jacket as I did not change it from wearing it earlier and this would be a downfall later.  I should’ve changed it to so I could stay warm, but I was already warm and didn’t realize this would be a downfall (tip #2 I learned: change into drier clothes at night no matter what!).  I was also able to finally grab a headlamp as the one from Dale finally made ran out of juice a mile away.

We would pick up another runner (the runner from earlier) and we continued the DFL crew running…which now grew to 5 runners (Dale, Mary, Cindy, Wes and Me).  Cindy was ready to drop but we convinced her to move on and come tag along with us as we took off.  The next aid station was 3 miles away and we would make our toward the Wiregrass aid station at mile 53.4).  Here we would run to the next aid station and walk some.  Mary was unfortunately falling asleep and we were trying to keep her up by continuously moving.  The cold would come in and out in this area as we headed out into a vast open area and a confusing area where the trail was marked for during the day…but not for at night.

We made it to the next aid station at Wiregrass where it was a great aid station.  We would run into this aid station three times along the course (yet we only made it once.)  Here we would be able to grab chicken noodle soup and some warm soups and continue to make our way to the next aid station 7 miles away at Hurricane Lake.

We continued on (the 5 of us runners) again back out into an open area of a trail marked for during the day (as the Florida Trail is used for during day use and not night use) and again would continue to run/walk all the way to Hurricane Lake.  All I remember along this course was we ran into a dog that had a tracker on it, it was probably a hunting dog, that made for an interesting run as it came out of nowhere.  We would also walk through more puddles and some we couldn’t avoid so I would slosh through it.  As we got closer to Hurricane Lake it was confusing again.  We made it into Hurricane Lake but had no clue as to where we should go.  We saw multiple fires along the race course and thought we needed to go towards them but we decided to run along the dam and maybe hope to see if we went the right way.  We saw some people at the bottom of the dam halfway and we made a joke that they took a long way down to get to use the bathroom, they clearly were not part of the race and were confused.  We would finally see a tape marking and knew we were along the right part of the course.  We ran all the way across the dam to the other side and turned back into the woods to get to our next aid station.

Aid station #10, mile 59.4/Hurricane Lake:
This is where we found a heater and three of us dropped, including myself.  I could not stay warm.  I tried three times to get out of this aid station but after 30 minutes of trying to stay warm I could not make it pass and quit.  I would get out in the woods running and wouldn’t make it far before I would shake uncontrollably and my teeth would chatter.  I feared only making it a mile down the trail and just freezing and going into real hypothermia and it being forever until someone would actually come by and pick me up.  It was bad and in the end I was crushed that I decided to not finish the race but at 38 degrees and being so cold next to a lake (not normal weather for Florida this time of year) I did not think I was going to be able to make it.

Things I learned:
+Hold onto someone for a 100 miler if you can.
+Have a headlamp in all your drop bags
+Wear warm/dry clothes as much as you can.
+Don’t forget gloves…I was using Buffs to keep myself warm.

One mantra:
+Respect the 100 miler!  It’s a beast but can definitely be fun.

Recommendations for race improvements:
+Better markings at night!  The course is perfect for during the day but not at night.  Cat eyes could help along the trees and spray painting the ground would help us get in the right direction.
+Maybe a drop bag location at Hurricane Lake given the lake effect and weather, it probably would’ve helped me to have warm clothes there to continue pushing.
+Mark the area near County Line Road (also put in the race directions to head toward the Okaloosa County sign, which was a few hundred feet away) it would have helped knock off a crap load of time.
+Create a Facebook page, maybe for both events…to be able to reach out to more runners by helping yourself let people know when race signup cutoffs occurred.  The Facebook group is not where all ultra runners in the local area are in, so some didn’t know about the cutoff a month early.
+For pacer bibs next time, just highlight the bib so you can determine who is a pacer or add a big P to it.  I recommended for the 50 miler and 50K (Deer Dodge) to distinguish the difference between runners by maybe highlighting them two different colors if you are using RoadID bibs.

Things I liked about this race:
+Volunteers.  Having volunteers always helps and they were phenomenal help.
+The aid stations were good.  Didn’t need to have such huge aid stations.  The later aid stations (Wineglass with warm soup was what was needed!)
+The course during the day was beautiful!  I’m glad the race course was selected and was done pretty well!
+102.1 miles was fine with me too.
+Race logo (belt buckle…looked great too!)
+Race director and his wife (the volunteer coordinator) for putting on a first time 100 miler in the local area.  They both are super nice and I’m glad we have a 100 miler here in the local area.  I will probably attempt this one again next year if I am here locally.
+A local race!
+Runner’s Manual was actually nice to have.

Final thoughts:
Overall it was a great race.  Minus the weather and getting lost (which I know they will fix) it was a great attempt at a 100 Miler.  I have plenty of faith going into my next 100 Miler attempt that I will finish it after going through everything I did at this race.  This was a first year for this race so I did expect a hiccup or two.  I encourage more ultra runners to come out next year and make this race grow.  It actually would be a great first 100 miler attempt as there is not much elevation change and if marked right, can really be an amazing race for the local community!  Thank you to the race directors for putting on this race and I hope (if I’m here) to be back again next year and kill this 100 miler.  🙂

I have not failed, I have only become stronger and that belt buckle will be mine soon!  Respect the ultra, respect the runners and respect mother nature!

It’s time to get back to publishing/Cottonmouth 100 Miler/RunJunkees Run Club Ambassador

It’s time to get back to publishing.

I’ve been away from posting but am going to start posting again. I’m excited for the new journeys ahead and will soon be on to future journeys.

The first journey is this weekend.  The Cottonmouth 100 Miler.  My 2nd attempt at a 100 miler.  I have high aspirations with this race and believe I can do it.  I’m also going to lube up (the downfall to my first attempt two months ago.)

I have a few races coming up and am excited about them.

Also, I have become an Ambassador for another awesome running group “RunJunkees Run Club”.  Which means I get to wear the badge with honor, which I have on the side of the wall.  Expect more posts and follow me on Instagram!  I may soon put up a blog page on Facebook to follow if there is interest in the future.

My final words:
Respect all runners, whether it is the 5K’er, the guy who just did a 5 minute run for the first time, the lady who just completed her marathon…respect them all.  Everyone has a story, do not poop on their parade!  Celebrate them!

Virtual Runs / Dean Reinke Runs – Issues with them

***DISCLAIMER NOTE: I’m not 100% knowledgable on these races but these are my own opinions.***

Virtual runs are popping up everywhere now.  In a world where we do many things online, we are continuing the trend with “virtual races.”  What is a virtual race?  It is an event that is hosted by some “virtual race director” who collects your money and will in return mail you a shirt and a medal.  They also state they are going to benefit a charity.

So what is the problem with these runs:
1)  Proceeds: Not saying a charity will receive money from a virtual race but you cannot be 100% sure on some of these races as to if a charity will receive money.  Remember, that these race directors could pocket all of the money from a 1500+ member participant “virtual race” and maybe I’ve $500 back to a charity.  Thus they have given the “proceeds” to the charity and guaranteeing they gave money to a charity and take $2500 for their pockets. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE!

2) You get a race medal for doing a 5K.  Really?  No local 5K’s do that anymore and if you go to a race where you get a medal for completion, it’s because you won an age group award or it is some gimmick event like Warrior Dash, Hot Chocolate 5K, Disney 5K.

3) No official results.  Anyone can say they ran a 30:00 5K and call it a race they ran in, including making it a PR (even if they are short.)  It’s making people think they are running in a real race without participating in a sport with people and having an official time.  I do see these runs as virtual, so everything is virtual. I look at these non-official results as being another gimmick of the obstacle running races and one event I remember: Ugly Sweater Run.  You run an event and have no official time of you actually being there.

Now I assume that people who continually (I stress continually, not a 1-time participant) participate in these races are hoping to be charitable by participating in these events.  Some may also be scared of running in the local scene.  That’s where you meet people and can gain more motivation. There is nothing like racing people and actually seeing the person ahead of you lose steam and you pass them.  That’s fun about local events.  What else is fun, seeing aid stations, the signs, the smiles of the crowd, the support, cheering on other runners, beer at the finish line, embracing the music (if you wear it), watching birds fly by you while you run along a course, seeing the clouds, or seeing that “interesting building, piece of art or something that catches your eyes” out there that you have never seen before because you are driving by it.

I think people who participate in these races also love the fact that they can participate in an event whenever it fits in their schedule (ummm, isn’t that like doing a normal workout?)  I guess you could argue, then why are you paying for a local marathon…paying to run.

Everyone has their own reason to run, race and participate in events.  I think everyone has a valid point to not run and to run a race or a virtual race.  Again, these are my thoughts. I do not downgrade someone for running a 5K.  Granted I do not like them and avoid them, the fact that you got off the couch, make me happy!

I choose to live by this when I run:
1) Try to avoid big races (sometimes it is hard to avoid a Rock N Roll, if that is the only marathon for a city). I am guilty of some of running these bigger races too (Goofy Challenge in 2015, only as a one time thing though to say I’ve done it and to form my opinion on it [Money conglomerate with terrible shirts for the price.])
2) Support local races!  They give back a considerable amount of money (20-50% of race registrations) compared to a big name race (1-10%). Read about the Dean Reinke Half-Marathon (any USRA half-marathon in America) debacle.  This guy is a crook in the running industry!  He puts on half-marathon races in cities. Yet sometimes it is done without getting permits, no real clear information, or shortened races.  The most common thing he does is grab your money and not put on a race!  Yes, Council Bluffs, Iowa had that happen last year (a city across from Omaha, NE).  http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/running/The-Shadiest-Man-in-the-Racing-Biz-Dean-Reinke.html. This guy continually gets an “F” from the Better Business Bureau.
3) Support local races because they support local charities or non-profits!  It’s a community thing to give back!
4) Support local running stores!  Small businesses are much better for the economy and for you as a runner.  There is a reason why local running stores are out there. They give you the support you need to actually buy running shoes that are made for the way you run.  Compare that to a Foot Locker or a Dick’s Sporting Goods where they just sell you a shoe based on your size.
5) You get to meet amazing people and have fun opportunities to volunteer.  Because I have helped put on races, those people (who are your friends too) in return will help volunteer and help your race out when you need it with no questions asked…even in the blistering cold.

I again will state this…I support all runners!  You get off the couch and are motivated (or not even motivated because you hate running) to do something besides staying at home!  You as a runner are awesome.

Again these are my own words.  Feel free to add negative and positive comments and things for me to think about.  I welcome all criticism.

Week of 16-22 February 2015

603831_10155282087570245_5269110149571054898_n

Post Destin Beach Ultra week and I’m up and running again.

Here is what I ran each day:
Monday – Tuesday: No Running
Wednesday: 3.15 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: 5 trail miles
Saturday: None/Volunteered
Sunday: 6 trail miles.

Total this week: 18.15 miles
Total this month: 106.13 miles
Total this year: 264.83 miles

Destin 24 Hour Race Report – 2015

Destin Beach Ultra – 24 Hour
http://www.beachultra.com
Destin, FL
GOAL: Minimum 32 Miles
Time: 24 Hour Race
Distance: 60 Miles

Robert pacing me part of the day.

Team RWB Eagle Selfie with Rob, Charles and Susan

Kelsey, Robert and I

Let’s just say the pros will always outweigh the cons.

Some of my favorite moments:
-Seeing Team RWB out volunteering.
-Seeing Kelsey get her first ultra distance and then seeing her get a second wind post 50 miles. Also enjoying a few beers with my favorite LT. 🙂
-Thinking of Abby (the girl I run for) during the race because it was National Tubefeeding Week and she suffers from EoE.
-Thinking of my friends who have passed while serving for the continued freedom of our country.
-Seeing all the Eagles (including those from Houston, Warner Robbins, Orlando, Pensacola).
-Seeing local Run With It (Tammi and Donna) folks out in full force.
-When people asked…hey is this a 5K going on…telling them you’ve been running 20 hours makes their mind blown!
-Wearing my Feast and Feathers Trail Half Marathon, 10K and 5K beanie during the night. Thought about the wonderful race directors/sisters (Amy and Vanessa) and how I will come out this year hopefully.
-Carrying the flag from miles 48-50 (then on top of that, seeing people stand up and salute the flag, or runners salute the flag when the flag came by.)
-Then running with Robert as he ran with the flag from miles 48-50 (oh yeah, he hasn’t done more than 14 miles this year…beast!)
-Having Marcia telling me to get out of her tent
-Drafting off of little Mary (joke) and running with Rex, Dale and Christopher,
-Seeing Rex come back out
-Seeing a wedding…literally happen. I’m sure we crashed some of those photos!
-Seeing my Orange Mud Am-badass-adors (Patrick and Ed) out as well, Ed going 110 miles and Patrick and I just grinding through that stupid out and back.)

My favorite photo, finishing mile 50.

-Seeing Michael (Team RWB Pensacola) also carry a flag and a ruck sack.
-Seeing Chris W show up out of nowhere with a big stinking smile post 50 miler.
-Seeing Chris B (the Magnificent Ginger Unicorn) looking good at the 30 mile point.
-Seeing Debra M just being a flipping beast out there. She continued nonstop and just pushed through so much distance last night, 78 miles. Charles was there too and was great support to all RWB’ers and her. I loved seeing those two hold hands and enjoy each other’s company. Charles…you were a trooper!
-Seeing the LURs (Louisiana Ultra Runners) out there. Great seeing you Rhea!
-Seeing some of the tourists think we were crazy after they asked what we were doing. Then having them cheer you on through the race. FREE RACE SUPPORTERS!!!
-Pushing through two minimum race goals (I guess it helps to have people out there to root you on.)
-Seeing Christy J push through two laps to ensure she could continue onto the course to do the 100 miler, then seeing her finish from the distance.
-Seeing cops for three hours flash lights into a house where they may been loud and were not opening up the doors.
-Seeing Jeremy R and Kelly S supporting others in the last hour.
-The shirts are phenomenal quality and same with the design.  The fact that we could vote on the design was nice too. 🙂
-Volunteers were great (for the 24 hour race!)

Things I had issues with/would hope for future events.:
-Wind through the evening and morning hours. Just hurt momentum all night, which lead me to sleep for 3.5 hours (so wasted time.) (Nothing the race directors could do.)
-Getting my feet wet every once in a while (that’s bound to happen.)
-Wish there was a pre-race briefing opportunity on Friday night (when the volunteer briefing was.) This would have allowed me to sleep and not be so tired in the middle of the race.
-For the 24 hour race, the pizza should have come a little earlier and maybe more fresh food options through the night (like bacon and quesadillas [when compared to the 50 miler and all the wonderful food they were able to get.])  Even beer or margaritas would have been nice.  🙂
– I think (like ultras that I’ve dealt with before), there should have been some lights on the beach, or even grabbing like 10 tiki poles and light them up during the night to give us some light and to help boost the mood, it can become disorienting at night and trying to run and not force someone into the water, not required but would have been nice to have some light.
-Some IcyHot or BioFreeze at the medical tent would have been nice.  They did not have any.
-Portajohns at the start, but I know that there is nothing Zane can do because the counties do not allow the beach to have them. Sounds like it would be a nightmare anyway to try and figure out how to bring them out and back.
-Some individuals littered or didn’t pick up trash along the beach during the race.  Clean it up, it doesn’t affect your time more than 10 seconds.  Picked up multiple trash items along the way.
-Having to try to avoid the holes kids create (I ended up covering most of them during the night to help the runners out.)

Overall though, I think the race was great though.  It’s for a great cause too!  Thanks Zane Holscher and your family and race crew for putting on this race!  I highly recommend it and he does make it a weekend to not forget.  The awards are great, including the overall winner awards!  The fact that almost $55,000 was donated to the SOWF is amazing!  I loved how there is a fundraising aspect which I would do next year!

So the pros outweigh the cons!

Front of medal
Frank came out. Mile 55 for me.
Back of medal
Friend paced a few Eagles this day
Shirt, with bib in Orange Mud bib holder, medal and my Team RWB Headsweat Visor.
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