Seven Squirrels ran the St Neots Riverside Runners 10k. The race followed a stunning route, a mixture of tarmac paths, short road sections and lots of off-road. Linda Aird said, “It is quite ‘technical’, in that it twists and turns a lot and the constantly changing terrain underfoot meant you had to concentrate - add in the blistering heat and it made for quite a challenging morning's racing!” The team were very happy with the medals, t-shirts and the charity cake stand at the end which was very well stocked(!), in this well-organised race.
Linda Aird was first home for the club and 2nd in her age category in 53.35. Michelle Grudzinski was next home in 53:35, followed by Lucy O'Connor (57:34). Sue Foot then finished and was first in her age category in 57:45, winning a bottle of bubbly! Karen Dodsworth finished in 59:04, followed by Sheila Leavy (65:02) and Andy Grudzinski (65:48).
Tom Webb finished 6th overall in the Bewl Water Olympic Distance Triathlon in Kent on Sunday in 2 hours 10 minutes, just 1 minute off of the podium. It was a hilly bike and run course with a strong field including a couple of GB triathletes, and Tom had the fastest run leg of the day.
Elsewhere, on Saturday, it was the North Herts Road Runners First Saturday of the Month on Norton Common, Letchworth and among the many finishers were 19 Squirrels. First home for the club, in 5th place, was Matt Davies (19:29), with Sophie Thrussell finishing as first lady (22:11).
11 club members ran Parkruns. James Keogh (18:47) finished first at Poolbeg, followed by Clare Hooley (33:04). Pat Norris was at Gorleston Cliffs (35:47); Steve Lummis (25:15) and Chris Poole (26:57) travelled to Tring, while Brian Judkins (36:40) was at Wimpole Estate. Closer to home at Stevenage there were 4 Squirrels - Simon Poole (18:49); Pete Sibbett (22:00); Ellie Scott (24:01) and Jo Sherry (27:41), while at Letchworth Daniel Mallett finished in 24:02.
On Thursday night 50 squirrels battled the soaring temperatures to take on the annual Fairlands Valley Spartans Relays.
There were some excellent individual performances with PBS flying everywhere despite the sweltering heat and airless conditions, but the night was all about working together as a team. The lady squirrels won the women's event - Astrid McKeown, Helen Cairns and Sarah Mitcherson took the trophy and were crowned Herts County Champions!
NHRR's 'B' team of Kat Burr, Paula Holm and Jane Clarke secured the bronze for the FV35 category. The male squirrels, not to be outdone by the ladies, also took away medals with a 2nd in the open event - Mark Vaughan, Adam Bowller, Stewart Overton, Darren Sunter, and Tom Webb and NHRR's 'B' team won silver for the MV40 category with a team of Lee Hayes, Nick Malpelli, James Walsh, Darren Matussa and Ryan Smith.
On Wednesday night three Squirrels travelled up to Bedford for the annual Doug Anderson Memorial 5K. Darren Matussa was first home for the club in a course PB of 18:23 and was 16th overall. Michelle Grudzinski was delighted to clock a massive PB of 23:53, having been paced by fellow squirrel Adam Wilson who finished in 24:19, his second fastest time!
On Sunday three Squirrels enjoyed "more favourable conditions" at the Lee Valley 10 Festival 10 Mile event. Stewart Overton, not content with having secured victory on his first track race, taking on the 1500m distance at the Watford Open in 4:46 and a PB at the FVS Relays, he was "very pleased" to take 5th place and rack up his 3rd PB of the week in an impressive 60:33. Michelle and Andy Grudzinski also made their journey worthwhile by both scoring PBs of 1:31.23 and 1:42.36.
Home and holidaying squirrels were out in force throughout the UK - notably Richard and Jo Harbon tackled the Oban Parkrun and reflected that "it was a full blooded fell run with serious hills", but still managed to finish 7th male and 10th lady! Squirrel Stephen Lummis advised other Parkrun enthusiasts to check their Parkrun is on before travelling, having driven to Panshanger early Saturday morning to find it cancelled. Thankfully he had enough time to "drive like Lewis Hamilton" across to Ellenbrook Fields, arriving 3 minutes before the start and still ran a creditable 23:10!
Sunday saw Nick Malpeli and Astrid McKeown voyaged down to Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey for the Caterham Rotary Half Marathon, which incorporated the British Masters Half Marathon Championships.
Another warm one, with Nick Malpeli finding the undulating 2 lap course hard going the second time around. Malpeli finished with a seasons worst time of 01:23:41. This was 10 seconds slower than at the Hitchin Hard Half (so maybe it wasn't so hard after all). It was still good enough to secure him the British Masters MV50 Bronze. Astrid McKeown came 3rd FV45 in a time of 1:33:25 winning the British Masters FV45 Bronze.
Most of the racing started early this weekend with Five Squirrels taking on the tough but scenic off-road course at the Panshanger Park 5 Mile race on Thursday evening. This was the second race in the local Midsummer 5 Mile Series.
Unsurprisingly it was another warm evening, and the ladies team went into the race in 1st position after the first race in the series. There was a good turn-out and the bigger field meant the women would have to dig deep to maintain their winning position.
The Ladies team kept up their performance from the previous race to take first place in the series. Finishes were Naomi Parkinson 39:13, Jullian Boys 40:05, Lucy Hurley 42:23, Adam Wilson 43:38 and Alan Hazlehurst 43:51.
Six squirrels headed to Bedford on Friday night for the Beds AAA 10k. The fast, flat course produced some excellent times. Mark Vaughan finished 6th overall in 34:26 and was 1st M45, followed closely by Adam Bowller in 7th with a new PB by 32 seconds in a time of 34:29. Stewart Overton finished in 19th place in a time of 35:58, and Ryan Smith also ran a PB finishing in 36:49. Other Squirrels taking part were Ian Sutcliffe 54:42 and Sue Vaughan 55:28.
Taking the short trip north Andrew Robson competed in the Bedford Super Sprint Triathlon for the 11th time. In perfect racing conditions Robson set new PRs for all three sections clocking an overall time of 1:26:28, almost 4 minutes quicker than last year and finishing 11th in his age group.
Parkrun results as follows: Leamington parkrun John Russell 63rd 22:15, Stevenage parkrun Simon Poole 2nd 18:25, Miranda Mogran 150th 27:43, Helen Giffen 227th 31:16, Patrick Norris 255th 33:16, Naomi Parkinson 302nd 37:37, Wimpole Estate Brian Judkins 285th 35:04, Ellenbrook Fields Chris Pool 56th 23:13, Bakewll Jodie Brumhead 79th 23:52, and Letchworh Parkrun Vincent Wright 10th 21:40, James Dalton 13th 21:52, Jillian Boys 34th 24:54, and Bob Davis 60th 28:42.
North Herts Road Runners enjoy success on the roads and in the mountains
Wednesday saw the Midweek League’s ‘Mob Match’, which brings together all of the participating clubs across the divisions for a closing 10k event. Following up their success in Division 1, the North Herts Road Runners produced another show of strength, with the women’s team finishing first in both the open and the Vet categories. They were led home by Paula Adams who finished in 4th place overall with a time of 41:56. The men also produced a strong display with three men, Jim McConnel, Mark Vaughan and Tom Webb, finishing in the top 10. It capped an end to what has been a breakthrough season for the Squirrels in the league’s highly competitive top flight. At the awards presentation after the race, Team NHRR picked up prizes for the second team overall in Division 1, the first Vets’ team overall and the first Vets’ Men’s team. The Squirrels also bagged a clutch of individual trophies: Katie Harbon was first female overall, and Astrid McKeown was second. Sarah Mitcherson was first V35, while Paula Adams was first V45. For the men, Mark Vaughan won first V40, and Matt Sayers won second V40.
There was plenty more hard running to come for the Squirrels, and not just on the roads. Jim McConnel and Michelle Grudzinski both travelled to Snowdonia at the weekend. Michelle took part in the Trail Half Marathon, which included seven brutal miles up Snowden, and finished in 3.15.23. Jim took on the full marathon, and in his very first attempt at the distance, finished in 11th position out of 698 entrants. Despite battling some punishing climbs, the dreaded cramp, dehydration and hunger, Jim posted a time of 4 hours and 23 minutes, and even ended up with a smile on his face. “Appetite whetted, I might just try another,” he said after the race. “Maybe a flat road one next time!”
Sue Foot took on the Lulworth Cove Challenge, and enjoyed stunning scenery as well as a total elevation of no less than 2351 metres. Sue was one of 60 runners who ran along the coast from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door and back, crossing MOD land and taking in some amazing views, and she was very pleased to finish with a time of 8 hours 37.
In Northamptonshire, Jo Summers ran the Hannington Hike. This new, gently undulating route took in numerous beautiful villages. She completed the full distance, which turned out to be 28.5 miles in total, “even without making any mistakes,” in 5 hours 28.
Closer to home, Lucy Hurley and Naomi Parkinson ran the Fairlands Valley Challenge Ultra, a 50k event, which in fact was closer to 55k in length. On a blisteringly hot day, the temperatures topped 29 degrees. Their verdict of the race: “Definitely would recommend if you want a challenge!” Other Squirrels taking part on the day were Katherine Burr, Caroline Thrussell and Paul Bowel.
North Herts Road Runners have various training groups for different abilities and levels of experience. The Purple Group is billed as a good place to start if you’re new to running, and seven members of the group showed what massive strides they have made since joining the club, by running the British 10k in London. Kelly Hanlon, Jo Kenlin, Shani Fielding, Joanne Sopala, Hayley Cocks, Monica Cullin and Shirley Calcutt were joined by fellow Squirrel Stuart Cocks in posting fantastic times, and in doing so raised £1700 for MS Trust.
North Herts Road Runners celebrated the scorching summer with a ‘Dawn and Dusk’ double-header version of their monthly 5k run on Norton Common.
The ‘First Saturday of the Month’ 5k is well established as a popular fixture in the local running calendar with a regular 9.00am start time, but the one-off addition of an evening run proved popular,, with over 150 people taking part over the two runs – including 10 who completed both. Many runners and their families rounded off the evening event with a picnic and a celebration after the World Cup excitement. Race Director Steve McKeown said ‘It was a chilled and fun atmosphere, with lovely weather. I imagine we’ll be doing it again next midsummer’.
Home club NHRR enjoyed a 1-2-3 finish in the morning event with Paul Jackson first in 18:25 and James Keogh and Adrian Sherwood close behind. Fellow Squirrel Sarah Mitcherson took the ladies’ honours in 20:37.
Hitchin Running Club’s Oliver Saville stormed home first in the evening with a time of 17:15 and Emily Hutchinson was first lady in an excellent 18:49.
Fresh from masterminding the ‘Dawn and Dusk’ event, NHRR’s Steve McKeown was up early the next morning to lead a strong contingent of Squirrels at the Hitchin Triathlon. Steve won the event overall, completing the 400m swim, 20k bike section and 5k run in a blistering 59:51.
John Auld chose the Hitchin event for his triathlon debut and finished 19th despite finding that he ‘really struggled off the bike – it’s horrible!’ Lindsay Cook, Helen Cairns, Jo Harbon and Andrew Robson were also competing, with Lindsay and Andrew among those reporting faster times than last year.
It was a double celebration for the McKeowns as NHRR Chairperson Astrid McKeown won the Ware 10-mile race in 1:09:11 and reported her gratitude at being ‘hosed down by local residents – a nice touch’ in the hot conditions.
Earlier in the week five NHRR runners tackled the first race in the Midsummer Series 5-mile race at the Woodhall Estate in what Linda Aird described as ‘very, very hot’ conditions’. Naomi Parkinson was the first NHRR finisher, taking the third senior lady spot in 40:04, with Jillian Boys in 41:04, Lucy Hurley 43:43, Linda Aird 45:07 and Alan Hazlehurst 45:11.
Michelle Grudzinski overcame running ‘low on fuel reserves and struggling a lot’ in the latter stages of the 46k Maverick Ultra in the Peak District. Despite feeling ‘sick and shaking’, Michelle finished in 9 hours 54.
Jo Summers completed a remarkable Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday three marathons in a week as part of the Great Barrow 10 in 10 Days Challenge, including setting a new course record of 3 hours 52 for the Wednesday route.
Monica Cullin reported it was ‘very hot, but I managed to get round’ after finishing the Weybridge 10k in 1:39:23 and Jennie Andrews and Linsey Ashley complet
Wednesday saw the final Mid Week League Race of the Summer take place in Stevenage. North Herts entered the race in 4th place looking to secure their position and avoid relegation having only been promoted last year to division 1. The rallying call went out from President Harbon and the squirrels responded. Either by making vast quantities of delicious rolls and cakes, donning hi-vis jackets and cheering on all the runners as loud as possible, handing out desperately needed water or running as fast as possible to secure our division 1 place.
The rolls were delicious.
The marshalling was efficient.
The water was thirst quenching.
The racing was sublime.
Not only did North Herts secure their place in division 1, they finished an incredible second overall. This was down to outstanding racing in the final run. The men’s team, women’s team, men’s vets team and women’s vets team all finished 1st in their respective category. Jim McConnel finished 2nd in 34:15 followed by Andrew Leech in 34:29 and Darren Sunter in 34:56. All in all 62 squirrels took place including an outstanding Katie Harbon finishing first female in 38:57 making her first female overall. In addition the Vets Men finished 1st overall. Once again North Herts Road Runners demonstrated their team spirit and support for one another and running in general with a superb attitude from everyone whether marshalling or running. Congratulations to Ellie Scott as MWL Rep for organising such a successful season.
Elsewhere this week Jo Summers continued to tick off the marathons by finishing the Great Barrow Challenge day 4 of 10 marathons in 10 days in a time of 4:39 and Naomi Parkinson and Alan Hazlehurst ran the Great Bassingbourn half marathon. Naomi finished in 1hr 59 and Alan in 2hr 04 on a very hot and undulating course with absolutely no shade!
Stewart Overton continued his fine form by winning the King’s Lynn Parkrun in a time of 17:16 and Dave Annetts entered the Jim Sharlott 10k incorporating the BMAF 10k championships. This being a famous race in the walking calendar Dave managed to complete the course in 54:02 winning the V50 category and finishing 2nd overall
This Sunday the 24th June was the annual Hitchin Hard Half and 10K event. An event known for its energy sapping hills and stunning scenery not to mention the hot temperatures today. I guess that’s why it is known as the ‘Hard’ half but not nearly hard enough for Mark Vaughan and Nick Malpeli who cruised in to 1st place and 2nd place respectively! They led the field of 251 runners and finished in times of 1:18:35 and 1:23:31. They were closely followed by Astrid Mckeown who finished first lady in 1:29:21. In addition to these outstanding results, new member Tom Webb came in 1st in the 10K in a superb time of 37:22. The duel between Hannah Keeble and Adam Wilson continued in earnest at this race with both egging each other on until finally finishing hand in hand over the line on the 2 hour mark. All in all 23 squirrels descended on Hitchin Priory and everyone made it out the other side of this gruelling race with grins on their faces.
Continuing on the trophy theme, 6 squirrels set out to take part in one of the newer Hertfordshire races - the Welwyn 10k and managed to bag themselves three trophies. Mark Edmondson-Jones, Stuart Cocks, Christian Allen, Miranda Morgan, Sheila Leavy and Vanessa Rolfe all set out on this lovely run in the super hot weather with Sheila finishing in 2nd VF65, Mark as 2nd VM50 and Miranda as 3rd VF55.
Elsewhere, at the Letchworth Parkrun, North Herts came out to support the all female marshalling and organising team in celebration of #thisgirlcan. Adam Bowller set a new course record finishing in 17:36 being chased by Ed Price in 17:39 (2nd), Stewart Overton in 17:48 (3rd) and Oliver Brady in 19:20 (5th).
Lindsay Cook excelled in her first ever Olympic Triathlon at the Royal Windsor Triathlon last Sunday. Having woken up before sunrise to get there it started with a shock to the system with a 1500m swim in the River Thames followed by a 44km cycle which then ended with a 10km run lapping windsor castle, along long walk to the Thames, and then back. A superb personal achievement with the following timings of swim 36:01, Bike 1:40:24 and Run 1:09:23 totalling 3:40:29 including transitions.
An excellent week of sporting success for the North Herts Road Runners and now all eyes turn to the final Mid Week League Race in Stevenage on Wednesday night!
North Herts Road Runners bring a festival of running to Letchworth Garden City.
Father’s Day saw the streets of Letchworth Garden City teeming with runners of all stripes, thanks to the return of Run Round the Garden. Organised by North Herts Road Runners, the day was a great success, with 213 people finishing the 5k race, 48 runners taking part in the 1-mile race, and over a hundred children participating in the fun run. The 5k race was won by North Herts Road Runner Ed Price in a time of 17:01. “It was great race,” said Price, “and the fact that there was fun run afterwards meant that my eight-year-old son could take part as well. There was such a good atmosphere, it made it a Father’s Day to remember.” In second place was Charlie Grayson of Stevenage & North Herts (17:58) and in third was North Herts’ Adrian Sherwood, who finished in 18:16.
The first woman in the 5k race was Bedford Harrier Kirstie Sharman (19:00), who then went on to repeat the feat by running 05:48 to finish as the first female in the mile. The winner of the men’s mile was Hitchin Running Club’s Stuart Hansell, who ran 05:06, followed closely by North Herts’ Darren Matussa in 05:11, who along with other clubmates had taken on pacing duties in the earlier 5k race.
Filling out the top three in the women’s 5k were Sarah Mitcherson and Helen Cairns of North Herts Road Runners, whose placings and times (19:59 and 20:40 respectively) were especially impressive given that only the day before they had both been part of the North Herts women’s team that not only won the Greensands Ridge Relay Ladies’ Trophy, but took the course record for a women’s team. This hotly contested regional event is a handicap relay race for teams of six people, running from Waterside Park, Leighton Buzzard along the Greensands Ridge pathway to the church in Northill, Bedfordshire. Joining Mitcherson and Cairns in the successful ‘NHRR Flying Squirrels’ team were Jane Clarke (who also raced on Sunday), Katie Harbon, Sophie Thrussell and Paula Adams. They ran the course in a combined time of 4 hours and 15 minutes – three minutes faster than the previous best time. Two other teams from North Herts also took part in the event: another women’s team, who ran the course in 5 hours 33, and a mixed team, whose time was 4 hours 30.
Plenty more Squirrels were in action over the weekend. Hot on the heels of a successful Riga Marathon, Stewart Overton brought his impressive form to bear on the “quick and flat course” at Bedford 10k. Overton finished the race in 35:40, a minute and 40 seconds faster than this previous best time, and came away full of praise for the event: “Some good support from 8k in gets you moving those legs and a quick finish home.” Julia Callan was also at Bedford, running her first ever 10k in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes.
Elsewhere, David Annetts travelled to Bolton to take part in the BMAF 5k Road Walk Championships. His third place in (an unofficial) 26:08 was enough to win Gold in the V50. On the evening of Friday 15th, Jo Kenlin completed the Stowe 12k run, which she described as a “really beautiful place to run with some stunning views and a few hills.”
The Artic capital of Tromśo in Norway hosted the Midnight Sun Marathon, which North Herts Road Runner Jennie Fraser completed in 4:37.33. Speaking of her incredible experience, Fraser said “It was more like the Midnight Wind and Rain Marathon but when the sun broket through the cloud it was highly dramatic as all the permafrost on the mountains light up like diamonds.”
Closer to home, Jo Summers ran the Baslow Boot Bash, a self-guided 26 mile trail race in Derbyshire, in 5 hours 9 minutes – in eighth place out of 150 finishers. John Auld continued his quest to win South Yorkshire’s Silkstone Shuffle series of races. Saturday’s was the second race of the series, and Auld finished in 5th position. “I started the day in 2nd [overall], 99 seconds down and finished the day in 2nd, 50 seconds down. So, from that perspective it’s a good result,” said Auld.
The week before, three hardy squirrels had travelled to Wales to take part in the Salomon Trail Marathon, a race in the hills of south Snowdonia, 26.4 miles with 1100m height gain. Michelle Grudzinski ran 6:28.28 (“Not a pb for the course but that's not always what it's about...”), Andy Grudzinski ran 5:47.43 and Paul Bowell ran the Half Marathon in 2:31.50.
There’s plenty more to look forward to from North Herts Road Runners, with a very special First Saturday of the Month planned for July. This ever-popular timed 5k race around Letchworth’s Norton Common is to be run at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm) on Saturday 7th July, with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink. With free entry, the Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of North Herts Road Runners’ popular social running events, and promises to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in a picturesque setting. Find out more at www.firstsaturday5km.org.uk
Last week the big outing for NHRR was the Mid Week League race at Trent Park. 54 squirrels took part in the race with a good number of supporting cast. The first Squirrel home was Mark Vaughan in 13th place in just 37:09 with Katie Harbon the first female home in 39:30 in an excellent 41st place overall. After 3 races in the series the Men are in 3rd place in the League and the Ladies 2nd with the overall club position showing a strong 4th well clear of the 5th placed club.
Following the competitive Mid Week race there was a bit of a pace change on the Saturday with the annual ‘Bird Run’ which combines a bit of a run with a bird watch and breakfast. Binoculars and ears at the ready being lead by an expert bird lover the group witnessed Whitethroat, Swallows, House Martins, Red Kite, Blackcap and glimpsed a typically elusive Reed Warbler. Plus they heard Great Spotted Woodpecker and Garden Warbler. They also saw a fine display of Marsh Orchids.
Running is not just a social event, its not just a way of keeping fit, this proves that it is a great way of getting out in the great outdoors and experiencing the world around you. Summer club training runs often come with the added bonus of a spectacular Sunset.
More individual performances this week included Jo S taking part in the Farthingstone Foot Fest. The race is a minimum (!!!) of 26 miles when advertised and ran to 27.3 this year taking an off road route, but it is was a sociable outing apart from the stinging nettles which were totally anti-social.
A last minute decision for Jilian Boys to run in the Stotfold 5K Challenge paid off as she came in the first lady to finish in 22 mins. She was one of 6 Squirrels taking park with Ian Sutcliffe finishing in 26:13, Claire O coming in third lady in 24:12, Helen M-S finishing in 32mins and Andrew P in 28:15. The main feature of the ran that they all remember is running through lots and lots of long grass.
Sue F ran the Redway festival of Running Maraton, having battled to be fit for the race after a lengthy layoff with a foot injury she felt a little underprepared but previous conditioning and great metal attitude kicked in and finished happy in just 4 hours 28 minutes.
Michelle was at the end of a fairly major flight plan to run the Green Half Marathon in Lefkada, part of the Greek Ionian Islands. Finishing in under 2 hours 5 the run was around the bay as the sunset. Running shoes are an essential part of a squirrels awaydays packing!!!!
Nicolo took part in the St Albans half Marathon, trying to keep up with the 1:40 pacers proved only just a little bit much with a finishing time of 1:41. The highlight of the race though was a lady at mile 7 with a moral boosting sign saying 'You're running better than Thameslink'
Shani Fielding, Jo K, Halyley Crocks and Stuart Crocks took part in the Marston Mortain 5K which was a mostly flat but a little slippery underfoot. Stuart managed a 5K PB in 21:22 and Shani a PB of 32:45. Hayley was less happy with her time but it just proves even squirrels suffer when full of cold – but they are still running.
With the huge variety of one off races and after the mid week league there were only a few running at Park Runs this week. Darren Matussa ran in Roding Vally finishing 51st out of 151 in 24:03, In Bracknell Steven Lummis was 50th out of 349 runners in 24:39. In Stevenage Nick Malpeli was in 4th place out of 330 runners in 19:18, followed by Chris Stokes (20:15), Richard Harbon (21:24), Chris Poole (23:04) and Joseph Sherry coming in last of the Squirrels but only in 147th place in 27:45. Jillian Boys ran the Wimpole estate in 23:24 finishing 69th out of 335 runninger. Helen Giffin was another squirrel travelling with her running shoes as she took part in Keswick finishing in 30:30. James Dalton was the only Squirrel running in the Letchworth event finishing 7th out of the 114 runners in 22:05.
This July, the First Saturday of the Month will be held at both dawn (9am) and dusk (7.30pm), with the dusk runners encouraged to bring family, friends, food and drink.
Run hard in the morning and unwind with a social run in the evening, or use the morning's run as a warm up, and blast the 5k at sundown, or you could even just do one and not the other. Whichever you choose, it's a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best that midsummer has to offer in the picturesque setting of Norton Common.
Bring the kids, or make it a date night – the Midsummer Dawn & Dusk Double 5k is another example of NHRR's well-loved social events. Free entry. All welcome. Sign up on our First Saturday of the Month page
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