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2017…

 

Like a neighbour who discovers your well-stocked garden shed, these annual reviews seem to come around quicker and quicker.

 

Frankfurt2017

 

 

2017 was subdued, and yet somehow on course for my biggest ever year, mileage wise, until October, when a knee injury cut me off at the, well, at the place just above the shins.

 

Early year highlights were hard to come by. London was disappointing again (third 2:43 in row…), but I did manage a decent long stage at the National 12-stage champs in April. 28:19, which won’t mean much to anyone unfamiliar with the race, but probably represents something in the mid-32 10k range I would estimate.

 

Summer and early track season was quite good fun, although I came away with slim pickings in the PB department. A 15:52 for 5000m, just 1 second slower than my best, was probably the pick of the bunch.

 

Late in the track season I ran what I think has turned out to be my best run of the year. A 10,000m race at Midlands Counties Champs. My training buddy and club mate Dan had run 31:56 the week before and generously offered to pace me around for a 32-high if I could manage it. My outright 10k PB (set on the roads) stands at 32:44 so that was a distant goal should the stars align, but my official track 10,000m PB of 33:16 was the main target for the day.

 

I put my faith in Dan’s hands (and legs) and tagged along behind him paying attention to nothing besides not letting him get away. I don’t have many splits as a result, other than halfway in 16:28. The sub33 was on! Just. I think the splits were fairly even, and we were steadily catching people as the laps wore on. We caught and passed a few good runners but Dan waved me past them before I could get daunted. The last few kilometres got tough and I slipped off the pace. We managed to pick it up and get under 33 with a fast last 2 laps and ended with 32:49.

I was over the moon. 32:49 on the track, a negative split, and a top 10 national ranking in the V40 to boot. I was so grateful to Dan, and even at the time suspected this would be my running highlight of the year, mentioning as much.

 

36851534096_5a25b2c73b_oThereafter followed more training in anticipation of toeing the start line at Birmingham’s first marathon for many years. A training highlight en route included winning Wolverhampton Marathon (again with Dan alongside) in a genuine training run for Birmingham. I never expected 1st and 2nd but that’s how it panned out.

 

 

 

And that marathon win was to be the last throes of 2017 as it happened.

A week later I raced the Midlands 6-stage road relays and picked up tendonitis in my left knee which ruled me out for the remainder of the year.

Tendonitis is not normally such a long lasting injury, however I had made the decision to run Frankfurt Marathon with Phil many months previous and we had both booked flights, hotels etc., so even though it was only a week or 2 since I got injured, and I should have been nowhere near a pair of running trainers, I figured I would start with Phil anyway and at least get to enjoy some of the run alongside my longest serving running partner (friend / like an older brother etc.) of all time (maybe even all of it on a good day?). The knee had other ideas unfortunately and was hurting from the first few minutes in. I survived until just short of 10 miles when the agony had reduced my running to a painful shuffle. I explained the situation to Phil, he understood immediately and encouraged me to make the right decision. He then floated off into the distance and I proceeded to DNF for the first time in 25 years of running. It stung, but not as much as I feared it would, which in part is because deep down I knew the choice was out of my hands. And had probably been made before I even started.

 

Late December I was able to start jogging again and (touch wood) the knee seems to be ok.

 

Right then.

I usually start these reviews with the numbers, but this time I’ll end with them.

 

2,792 miles for the year. Weekly average of 53.5.

 

Which makes 2017 my third biggest year, behind 2011 (3,178 miles) and 2013 (3,016 miles).

 

As always, thanks to my friends, family, and running partners. *categories not mutually exclusive.

Finally, a big shout out to the legendary crew at TMR. We have something special here boys, let’s enjoy it, appreciate it, and take things even further next year!

Roll on 2018.

 

 

 

 

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Twenty Fourteen

How best to sum up this year in running?

 

In terms of miles pounded out on the roads, paths and tracks it was 2,596 miles (or 4,177km).

This works out to 49.9 miles per week (aaarrgh why can’t it work out to 50??) or 80.3km per week.

Remember this is relative. Numbers stacked up against other people have limited value. It’s how much you can and want to get done. Looking back over previous years reveals this to be the lowest total I’ve racked up since 2010.  But there’s more to life than numbers, right? Right?

 

In terms of performances it has been a pretty solid year. On the road I achieved a full house of PB’s over the standard distances of 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. On the track I didn’t tick off too many but came within a whisker over 3,000m, running 9:07.1 to my 9:06 set back in 1996. On the track I did PB over 10,000m but does it really count when you’ve not run the distance before?

 

Ok onto some highlights of the year.

 

IMG_9609The first was undoubtedly London Marathon in April. I love this race more every year. This year was particularly sweet as I had almost no expectations going into it. The first few months of the year had been pretty topsy turvey with various injuries and niggles getting in the way. Running was even more on the back burner as I flew back to SA to visit my Dad and sister and her family who were looking after my dad who had taken seriously ill in February. Thankfully it wasn’t as serious as first diagnosed and I am happy to report he is recovering well, thanks to the incredible support of my sister and her husband and family. Back to the running, I wasn’t sure I’d even run London given the build-up but I decided to travel down, seeing as I had already booked all the accommodation, train tickets and so on. The weekend was brilliant and the race went very well. I blogged about it previously (2:43 PB) so won’t go into any more detail here.

 

The Highgate Harriers 10,000m race was another highlight. My first attempt at a 10k on the track. The conditions made it memorable for reasons other than performance. Windy and rainy, it was certainly an experience Mr Carter and I won’t soon forget.

 

My 5k road PB came at the Sale Sizzler series of races in Manchester. I was toying with a sub16 attempt and trusty all-or-nothing pacemaker Dan had stepped in to pace me to at least 4k on target. Although things went awry early on due to getting boxed in (a lesson we failed to learn from, Leeds 10k refers), we soon got back on track and although I never got under the 16 minute mark I was pretty happy with 16:03.

 

The next highlight also features Daniel in a pace making role and was the Birmingham Half Marathon. I didn’t have huge time targets on this as I just didn’t think I was fit enough. Dan thought otherwise and dragged my ass around to a 20 second PB in 73:29.

 

The final highlight of the year came in December and was probably the most satisfying of all. The Telford 10k in 32:44. I knew I had a chance of breaking 33 if all the pieces fell into place. They hadn’t at Leeds a month earlier when we got boxed in and ran 33:15. At Telford I was determined to fix that. I don’t remember concentrating as hard or hurting as much in this race as in any race since the 15:51 on the track in 2013. Telford had that sort of feel about it. I was bloody well determined to stay on pace no matter what.

 

So even though I’ve not run as much as previous years, I had pockets of good training and produced some good results from them. Running is a continual learning experience and this year has taught me that breaks in training, even unpleasantly long ones, need not derail you and you can still keep things going even when you think you can’t. Scale back, keep ticking over, all those clichés come out and in my opinion they come out for good reason – they make sense and they are the truth.

 

Thank you to all my support crew. Everyone I run with, my family, kids and loved ones. Thank you.

 

Keep running guys, let’s have an awesome 2015 and just enjoy working towards whatever we are working towards. Times, distances, challenges, health, whatever.

Running will fix you.

 

PB List

Distance Time Year
Track 800m 2:04 1996
1500m 4:11 1994
3000m 9:06 1996 9:07.1 in 2014
5000m 15:51 2013
10000m 33:18 2014
 
Road 3mi 15:24 2014
5k 16:03 2014
10k 32:44 2014
HM 1:13:29 2014
Marathon 2:43:27 2014

 

 

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Yes I know it’s almost February, but here is my wrap up of 2013.

It will not be a year I forget in a hurry.

There are many things that shape our lives, some good some bad. And as we stumble through these things and find the paths we need, we get hurt and we get knocked down. But we develop strength and resilience. And most importantly, we always always learn along the way.

So onto my running headlines for the year.

Where do I start with the year I’ve just had? In any other year each of the following items would be head and shoulders above everything else. In no particular order here they are.

Friends

“Lame” I hear you say. Too bad. The support from my running friends has been overwhelming and unwavering. I’ve lent on so many of you so many times. So many to thank, you know who you are.

There are some standout moments. Running London with Barrow (more on that later) the older brother I never had (and did I mention older? ), the flexibility afforded to me in training times – people being willing to adjust their schedules to suit my higgledy piggledy new regime. Dan doing everything in his power to get me to run the Coventry 5000. “I just really want you to have a go mate”. Offering many lifts, sacrificing his car for the entire week if needs be leading up to the race to help me get on the start line. Simone and Gracie, both rocks in so many ways, there for me, providing hands to drag me from the brink of some of the darkest blackest holes I’ve had the displeasure of looking in to. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude guys. Looking back on how the year started is like looking at a movie of someone else’s life. I’ve come so far since then and it seems surreal that I was ever in that place. The foundation created by those first few months was the platform on which my running year was built, but it could have been so different without the help of all my friends. Thank you each and every one.

15:51

ABMC 1551h the infamous Coventry 5000. Probably the single  most significant race of the year. An earlier blog post covers it in full detail. Click the image for a link to the post.

Summary: I broke a long standing PB from 1994 as well as getting under 16 minutes for the first time.

18:55

2013 6StgNational Six Stage Road Champs. First time under 19 minutes and first (and possibly last) time I’ve beaten the class of Dan R, Chris A and Tim C in the same race. This race is an unusual distance (5.85km), so it is difficult to relate it to the other race distances but the powerof10 website ranked it higher than all my other races save the 33:06 Telford 10k in December.

73:49

Bristol Half Marathon. After the 15:51 this is probably the next big breakthrough I had. I went in with a PB of 77:26 and aspirations of breaking that time and possibly sneaking under 75 for a UK Marathon championship qualifier if it went well. It went very well. I ran fairly even splits to about halfway or just after and then dropped the hammer over the final 3-4 miles for a big negative split and even bigger PB.

33:06

I had the pleasure of running this exact time twice in two months. First in the Leeds 10k in November and then in the Telford 10k in December. My previous PB was 35:00 so I was chomping at the bit to get under the 35 minute mark. Leeds goes down as the big breakthrough simply because it was first. Similar to Bristol I ran a negative split although not as marked. Halves of 16:42 and 16:24. I was over the moon. The whole race felt good, never in too much trouble. The next month at the Telford 10 I put no pressure on myself, thinking that the 33:06 was out of reach. As it turned out I had had another great day and was on pace for a PB and even a sub33 through halfway in 16:29. I tied up a bit on the second half and the final slight inclines from 7-9k did me in.

Mileage 3018

My mileage for the year topped out at 3018 or 4855km. This works out to 58 miles or 93km per week. Not my biggest year, in 2011 I ran 100 miles more overall, but I feel this year the quality of the running was much better and I was able to tap into some of the strength I’ve been accumulating over the past 4 or 5 years of reasonable miles.

108 miles in one week

Prior to 2013 I had never run a 100 mile week or even a 90 mile week. In the summer my training was a bit sporadic on a week-by-week basis depending on the childcare situation. One of the weeks when I wasn’t seeing them at all a colleague asked what I intended to do with my free time. “I’ll probably just run” was my response. The week didn’t even start off that impressively and I didn’t start thinking about what it might total until the Wednesday. I felt great all week, probably because the novelty of the mileage was overriding the general fatigue I must have been carrying. Two weeks after the 108, I ran a 91 mile week. I look back on those two August weeks and really believe they kicked my form on for the rest of the summer.

VLM

2013 vlmA fantastic race weekend with Gracie, Barrow and I and a very personal shared race experience. One of my favourite people in the world and lifetime mate Barrow, who like a fine wine gets better with age, came over from SA to run London with me this year, and to try and break 3 hours. We ran every step together, and although we never quite hit the sub3, ending with a 3:04, it was one of the running highlights of my life.

Iffley Road Stadium Mile

A chance to run on the fabled Iffley track, surely the most famous running track in the world. And better still to run the distance it became famous f2013 Iffley02or, the fabulous mile. Travelled down with Dan and Tim, partners in crime. Dan and I were drawn in the same heat and quickly moved to the front of the race when it became obvious the others weren’t keen on the 70 second laps we wanted. I took over from about 500 or 600 metres in and kept the gas pedal pressed hard, Dan stuck to my shoulder all the way through the bell. I felt him wanting to come past and I pressed again determined not to let the pace slide. Going around the final bend into the finishing straight he eased wide and came past me. I kicked to stay in touch but he was too strong and I ended a second or two behind him in 4:41.62 for second place.2013 Iffley01

Roon the Watter

Going into any race as defending champion is pretty cool and I loved turning up at Roon and getting a mention on the start line. Jon and Teri were there as always. Teri looking after the girls while Jon, Bec and I ran. I had run 34:50 something to win the 6 mile race the previous year and was hoping for quicker. I didn’t know my road form but had been racing a lot on the track which I hoped would have me race sharp at least. I won it in 33:12 and have a full report on the blog already here.

Why?

So that was 2013. In a nutshell the best running year I’ve ever had. All-time personal bests on the track over the mile and 5000m and on the road at 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Where did it come from? I’m not entirely sure but there are a few factors this year that have almost certainly had a big part in it. It would be remiss of me not to mention the weight loss. I lost half a stone early in the year and decided to tighten up my diet and ensure it stayed off. I cut out a lot of fizzy drinks and crisps, and my personal Achilles heel, late night snacking.

Nutrition aside, I joined Bud Baldaro’s training group in January and it is surely no coincidence my running curved steadily upwards once the Tuesday sessions with Bud’s group started bedding in. I couldn’t be more grateful to Bud, Johnny Cullen – who talked me into joining them – and the Tuesday night gang. Thanks guys.

The only PB’s I still have outstanding from my uni days (or first career as Jamie calls it) are 800, 1500 and 3000. Let’s see how 2014 goes.

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2012, that’s a wrap

Getting the numbers out the way first:

In 2012 I ran 2712 miles.

This works out at a weekly average of a fraction over 52 miles (84km).

(For comparison in 2011 I managed 3183 miles for an average of 61 mpw).

The lower mileage this year was not a conscious decision, but one that was made vaguely early on and stored in the back of my mind.

 

Running is not a linear progression consisting of more miles and faster times year on year. It is more like a series of efforts interspersed with rests. This applies on a micro level, day by day, and scales up nicely to apply to week on week, month on month and year on year.

 

After 2011, which had been a big jump from 2010 (47 to 61 mpw), I felt consolidation was needed in 2013, rather than trying to continue to forge ahead. I decided to focus on improving the quality of the mileage rather than pushing out big numbers for the sake of a nicely shaped graph. In a sense I guess you could say 2012 was a recovery year after 2011.

 

Did I achieve this? I feel like I did and I am satisfied with the year. In terms of cold, hard, reportable facts I don’t have a glut of personal bests to show for 2012.

 

The synchronization between fitness and races wasn’t quite aligned this year for whatever reason, and I had periods of top fitness with no race results to show for it. Conversely I had lots of races where I arrived, again, for a variety of reasons in less than ideal shape. Some would say that is how running goes. And they’d be right. This is one of the many unique aspects that make our sport great. Getting yourself into shape at the right time is a combination of science, art, and experience. I intend to work on that in 2013. An easy first step would be to schedule in more frequent racing, which I plan on doing.

 

IMG_6643

 

 

Races

I recorded two Personal Bests in 2012.

Both PBs were in the first quarter of the year. The first was the Droitwich Half Marathon, where I had no intention of chasing a time but was aiming for a controlled hard effort. Funny how these things work out. Anyway I felt great and managed to take 10 seconds off my PB with a 77:26.

 

The second PB came in April where, in unseasonable conditions (cold and rainy); I ran 4hr14 at the Two Oceans Ultramarathon (56km) in Cape Town. I was targeting a silver medal (given to all finishers under 4 hours) and was on course for the first third of the race. I went through halfway in 1hr56 which may sound right for a 4hr00 target but the second half of the race is incredibly hilly and more time is needed in the bag before hitting the big climbs. Still, I’m pleased with the 4hr14 which takes 3 minutes off my time from 2011.

 

That was it as far as personal bests went in 2012. The best times I achieved in each race distance for the year are below.

 

2012 Best times:-

Distance

Time

Date

Race

Notes

1500m

4:35

30 May

BMC 1500m

 

3000m

9:43

11 July

Birmingham Uni Open

 

5km

16:41

15 September

Cannon Hill parkrun

 

10km

36:34

9 September

Lichfield 10k

Total Rubbish! I ran 35 minutes a number of times in solo time trials. But races are what count.

13.1 miles

1:17:26

4 March

Droitwich Half Marathon

PB by 10 seconds

20 miles

2:09:10

18 March

Ashby 20 Mile Road Race

Not a race effort. Trying to practice target marathon pace.

56km

4:14:26

7 April

Two Oceans Ultramarathon

PB by 3 minutes

Non Standard Distances

3 miles

16:39

12 May

National Masters Road Relays

 

5.1km

16:54

13 October

National Six Stage Road Relays

 

6 miles

34:52

31 July

Roon the Watter, Scotland

Won the race 🙂

         

 

The most surprising result was the half because, as mentioned above, I hadn’t gone in with the intention of racing.

 

The best race performance was probably the National Six Stage. 16:54 for 5.1k is pretty much as fast as it gets for me and was one of the few occasions this year when my fitness aligned with a race.

 

Thanks to everyone who was around to support (and share) the racing and training experiences. Many miles, many hours logged on the road, track and mud, and much nonsense talked.

 

As always, a special mention to my incredible better half, Bec, and our two girls who support me 100%.

 

Ok. With that, 2012 is out of the way. Enjoy all 2013 brings.

 

Keep running dudes.

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Banging out the miles

Running buddy Trev’s “46 days to the Two Oceans” email surprised me so much I had to check the Oceans website. Not that I doubted you Trev, it was just like a wake-up slap, and I needed to feel it a second time.

 

It was timeous anyway, as this past week I had a great training week and I wanted to share it.

 

Monday through Wednesday was just the usual run to work stuff, with the exception of Tuesday evening where I skipped the run home to pick up some groceries and treat Bec and the girls to a Valentines meal. Sundried tomato and mozzarella starter; Chicken fillets, rice, salad main; and triple chocolate sundae desserts. (Thanks M&S). Hey I never claimed to be Jamie Oliver.

 

Thursday afternoon I got a text from a running mate (Timmons) asking if I would pace him around a set of 1000m reps that evening. The girls were away for two nights, down visiting friends in a seaside village in Cornwall (south west coast). The prospect of going home to an empty house sucked the big one, so I gladly accepted his request. His session was 8 x 1000m in 3:20 (or quicker) off 60 seconds rest. That rest was going to be a problem for me, as 3:20 pace is hard enough off two minutes (Timmons is quicker than me, so he is fine at 3:20). Still, I dug in and survived the first 6 reps before I had to sit one out. I joined again for the last one. We averaged 3:18 so I feel I did my job.

 

That session left me a bit ropey on the leg front but I trotted down to the Saturday morning parkrun 5k nonetheless. My plan was to actively spectate while Ed chased a sub 15:30. Active spectating, to the uninitiated, involves jogging a 19 or 20 minute 5k while watching the race unfold out front. Its two laps so you get a decent view. On the warm-up Ed said he wasn’t going to run as he had a problem with his legs. So I thought, dammit now I will have to run hard to make this a worthwhile morning. No excuse to jog. So I bowled out to the front and hung on to the leader (clubmate Ben). I tucked in behind him and resolved to not let go until my legs gave way. I was hurting from the opening minute, Thursday’s session clearly still in there.  I held on for the first of the two laps and half of the second. Then he started stretching away just as the third and fourth placer caught me and motored past. I could see the Ben was hurting now as he didn’t put up a fight when they passed him. Eventual winner, clubmate Dan, who had told me at the start “I’m jogging today”, followed that up with “Shit I’m racing it” as he trotted past. Based on his lack of gasping for air, I’m not even sure he was. I tried to encourage Ben to go for it at the end but to no avail. I kicked for home over the last 200m to claim 3rd. The time was pretty mediocre at 16:59, but it shouldn’t really  be considered in isolation as I was in no state to be racing that morning anyway. I was spent. The jog home was a bloody drag.

 

Sunday morning I knew I had to bank some proper mileage. My Oceans teammates, the 9in9in9 crew (Simone, PQ, E-man etc.) were logging 26 every weekend and I was barely hitting 20. So instead of driving to the start of our 20 miler, I ran there, adding 3 miles each way. Dan, Chris, Jamie and I ran a good 20 miler (Spaghetti route). Dan, scaring us with his mileage stories and Chris scaring us with his leg speed. I added a little solo loop on at the end to make it a nice round 27 miles run. That’s the only marathon distance training run I’ll do pre-Oceans.

 

That long run pushed my week up to being the biggest of all time at 85 miles (136km). And I reckon probably one of my best as well, since it wasn’t all just plodding, with two decent, quality sessions (7 x 1k @ 3:18, and 5k TT @ 16:59) and a Valentines meal to boot.

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2011, that’s a wrap

Let’s clear some numbers first. We all like numbers.

2011 was my biggest running year ever.

  • Total mileage 3183 miles.
  • Average 61 miles per week (98km).

By way of comparison, in 2010 I averaged 47 miles a week so this was a nearly a 30% increase.

Races

More PB’s than in any previous year.

Out of all the road races I did this year, there were only two that were not PB’s. The first was the Robin Hood Marathon in which I paced Gracie to his impressive 3:04 London-qualifier. The second was the Birmingham Half, where I chased a too-optimistic (in hindsight, I concede it was too optimistic) target of 75 minutes, only to suffer the inevitable slowdown in the second half and end 30 seconds off my PB in 78:10. All my other road races were PB or PB-equalling performances.

2011 PBs:-
Distance Time Date Race Improvement on old PB
5km 00:16:12 16 April Parkrun 1 second
10km 00:35:00 18 December Telford 10k 4 seconds
10 miles 00:58:38 11 December Walsall Pudding Race 6 seconds
13.1 miles 01:17:36 4 September Kenilworth Half Marathon Equal PB
20 miles 02:06:06 13 March Ashby 20 Mile Road Race 7min 10 seconds
56km 04:17:22 23 April Two Oceans Ultramarathon 58min 38 seconds
Non Standard Distances
3 miles 0:16:06 21 May National Masters Road Champs 10 seconds
5.4 miles 0:30:51 9 April National 12-Stage Champs Long Leg 27 seconds
5.85km 0:20:04 24 September Midland 6-Stage Champs 7 seconds
         

 

The most surprising result was the 5k because I thought the shorter distance PB’s were pretty much out of reach.

The best race performance was probably knocking seven minutes off my 20 mile PB. Obviously the Two Oceans result was a rather large improvement, but that was more about having a very weak PB before. I don’t think the run on the day was particularly good. Also worth mentioning, for the sake of excuses, that I travelled from the UK a few days before (I know professional runners do it all the time, but I ain’t no pro!) and the fact that I roomed with a very poorly Hajjim member for two nights prior to the race, who sadly went on to DNS and miss the race with some awful flu L.

The other PB’s were all satisfying obviously, but are probably a fair indication of the training.

I do wonder how many more years I can cheat that Ageing Curve… I’m hoping for at least another four or five :-).

 

Thanks for all your support over the year.

Special mention to my awesome wife Bec, and our two girls who support me 100%. I can feel them with me every single mile I run. Thanks to my running-mad father-in-law for providing the other half of any number of running chats we’ve had this year, along with Teri – who has been caught up in the madness and started running too! Thanks also to my old school running buddies who knew the teenage me and haven’t yet had enough of my… (cough) sharp wit (Barrow, Simone, Snail, Enrique, Drew), thanks to all the Hajj crew (aforementioned plus PQ, Adam, Trev, Mike etc) and all my UK running buddies, daily running partner, NiceGuy Eddie, partner in anything-and-everything Gracie, Robbo, Timmons, RacingSnake Martin, Rich C, Rich G, Rich W, Ben, H-Bomb Stanton, Danni and all the others!

Keep running dudes, let’s punish 2012.

Peace out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two weeks into 2010 and my lofty target of 50mpw is still on the cards, just about.

Week one was 50.7 and week two 49.0 for a tidy average of 49.8.

God gave rock and roll to you

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