Race #198 – Turkey Trot 8k at Southpark – Charlotte, NC – 11/22/12

Oops… It’s been five days since the Turkey Trot and it keeps slipping my mind that I’m supposed to write a blog entry about it. I’m preoccupied with other things and I’m not really in blog mode but, as usual, I figure I can write a little something for at least as long as I can keep running.

There’s no big news and I’m slower than I was last year, finishing this year’s Turkey Trot about a minute and a half slower than last year (35:02 this year as opposed to 33:13 last year, which is my 8k PR). I knew going in that I’d be slower. I guess I shouldn’t be terribly disappointed since I finished 2nd out of 50 runners in the 60-64 age group and 232nd overall out of 4,233 runners, which is in the top 6% overall.

For some reason over the past month I seem to have one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel and things haven’t gotten any better. Since I’ve run 198 races now I’d really like to finish out 2012 with exactly two more to make it an even 200 so we’ll see how that goes. I’m registered for the Huntersville Half Marathon on December 8th and the thought of running 13.1 miles is a little scary right now even though it would be my 15th half marathon of the year.

Oh, I also became a vegan yesterday. Today I finished off the livermush in the fridge, so some people might accuse me of not being into it 100%, but I did feel bad about it afterwards so maybe I’m on the right track.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  35:02
Pace:  7:03
Age Group:  2 of  50  (4%)
Overall:  232 of  4,233 (5.5%)
Average Heart Rate:  174
Maximum Heart Race:  179
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  28:11  (75.24%)


Note: I made a few adjustments to the rating system as of 10/27/12 to give races a chance to score more rating points, so it can be futile to compare an older race with a newer one. Hopefully the different items on the checklist will inform you of what you need to know about a race. I’m still trying to keep it as objective as I can. The total points points possible are more than 100 but I’m trying to fine tune it so that good races end up in the 85-100 range. It’s too much trouble to go back and make changes to the old race ratings, but one of these days after all of the fine tuning is done it may be much easier to compare races with each other.

3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

1 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (3)adequate  (7)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric (tech shirt option for extra cost)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes (Running Journal Grand Prix)

TOTAL:  81

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Race #153 – Southpark Turkey Trot 8k – Charlotte, NC – 11/24/11

This was our third year in a row to run the Southpark Turkey Trot. It’s part of the Running Journal Grand Prix. If not for that, I’d probably run one of the smaller races on Thanksgiving morning. It’s way too crowded, parking is a little bit of a headache, there are never enough porta potties, and the starting line is a mess. For some reason unknown to me though, it’s probably the second most popular race of the year in Charlotte after Thunder Road. This year there were 4,831 finishers in the 8k alone, and a huge number in the 5k as well although I’m not sure how many. I heard that the site said they had a total of 8,500 registered runners. There are about 20 porta-potties and the lines are so long that if you want to start the race on time you better be able to just hold it in until after the race.

With around 5,000 runners in the 8k you’d think there would be some kind of corral system at the start of the race, but nope, it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves, and I seemed to be in back of several hundred of the slowest ones. Although I was fairly close to the starting line, it took 20 seconds after the gun went off for me to reach the starting line, and then I spent the next couple minutes zigzagging through slow runners just to get into an opening where I could run a straight line.
It was uncharted territory day for me. For the first time since it really mattered, I wasn’t able to use my heart rate monitor. I normally start my Garmin, build up my heart rate to cruising speed, then hold it there throughout the race, usually with good results. As we drove to the race on this morning I reached down to start my Garmin and nothing happened. I hit a variety of buttons to try to reboot it, all to no avail. I finally gave up and took off the watch and the heart monitor strap (I figured I may as well be comfortable) and took it as an opportunity to just guess my way through. I had just read an article on the previous night about how one running coach discouraged the use of all of this technology, and although I didn’t agree with it this was the only option I had for today’s race.

It was a little odd not having to start my watch at the starting line, and I felt a little strange not being able to check my heart status as I ran, but in a way it was liberating to a certain degree. There were mile markers in the race but no clocks along the way and nobody calling out times, so the only way I could gauge my speed was by the speed of the other runners, especially the ones I knew. In the first mile, I caught up with Steve Staley and passed him, then Brenny, then somewhere around the middle of the race I saw William Walker from Winston-Salem, one of the state’s fastest runners in the 60-64 division who is also competing in this year’s Running Journal Grand Prix, and I asked him if he had seen Butch Holt, and he hadn’t. I pulled out ahead of William for a while but he passed me later on and went ahead to catch Butch, who was up ahead, and beat him at the finish line. Around the 3rd mile Louis Anderson caught up with me. I don’t know Louis personally and figured this wasn’t the time to introduce myself but I knew he was in my age group and is a great runner. He was on the state champion cross country team in high school and was runner-up in the mile championship in high school as well and still one of the fastest in our age group. Louis passed me and after a couple minutes I went back past him and didn’t see him for a while, but I had the feeling he was close behind. Sure enough, somewhere around the 4-mile mark Louis passed me and slowly faded off ahead.

In the end, it didn’t matter all that much that one or the other finished ahead of me. I was a little disappointed to finish 7th in the age group but there were 117 in my age group and it was possibly the most competitive local race I’ve been in since I started running. By the way, the winner of my age group (55-59) was Jerry Clark, who blistered the course in 28:57, a new state age group record!

As far as my own results, my chip time of 33:13 (pace 6:41) was an all-time 8k PR for me so I can’t complain about the 7th place finish. Second place in the age group was 31:22 and all of the other top people in the age group were bunched fairly close together after that. I’m not sure how much the difficult start affected me (reaching the starting line and dodging the slow runners in front) or the lack of my heart rate monitor. Maybe if I had started in front and had my HR monitor I could have knocked another minute or so off my time, but we’ll never really know and it’s not a big deal.

The good news is that this fall I’ve managed to get a new Personal Record (PR) in all of the major distances that I normally run: 5k (19:40), 10k (41:44), 8k (33:13), 15k (1:04:47), and half marathon (1:31:57). None of those are going to break any records, but they beat the PR’s I set two years ago and are still fast for the 55-59 age group. In February I’ll be moving to the 60-64 age group and I’m really happy to be running my fastest times at 59. No doubt, at some time I’ll be moving in a different direction with progressively slower times, but after a disappointing year last year I thought that had already happened, so pulling out a better year this year was exciting.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos from Carolina Snapshot

Race Rating:

9 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
2 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) –> Nothing but oranges!
6 – 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
4 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
2 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other

TOTAL – 81

My Stats:

Time:  33:13 (chip time)
Pace:  6:41
Age Group:  7 of 117 (6%)
Overall:  161 of 4831 (3.3%)

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Race #111 – Southpark Turkey Trot – Charlotte, NC – 11/25/10

The 22nd annual Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot had 4300 finishers in the 8k race on Thanksgiving day. Add to that those involved with the 5k walk, the 1-mile fun run, and the tot trot, and this is easily one of Charlotte’s largest road racing events of the year, second only to Thunder Road.
This is the 4th race in the 10-race season of the Running Journal Grand Prix series and is one of the three RJ Grand Prix races in North Carolina, with the others being the Charlotte RaceFest 10k and the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon. The other races in the series are in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, so it’s nice to try to pick up some points without leaving the area. Linda and I enjoyed traveling around to most of the different races last year and are planning to run most of the remaining races this year as well. Last year I felt great, never had even a hint of an injury, and knew no fear. This year is a different story. I’m generally not running as well, probably due to a variety of factors. I’m older, of course, but that probably has very little to do with it. I suspect it has more to do with gaining back 5 pounds that I had originally shed during my serious weight loss regimen and lack of serious training. Whatever the reason, I was glad I didn’t travel far in my quest for Grand Prix points since I finished 6th in my age group and only the top 8 runners in each age group score points — 100 for 1st place down to 10 for 8th place — so I came away with a somewhat meager 30 points.
When I turned on the weather report at around 6 a.m. I thought they said it would be cloudy but the rain would hold off until the afternoon, although when I retrieved the newspapers from the driveway just before we left I felt a couple drops of rain. I went back in the house and looked at the hour-by-hour forecast and it was calling for only a 10% chance of rain. Never quite sure what that means (Will it rain 10% of the time, or in 10% of the area, or 10% as hard as a real downpour?), I decided to take along the running rain jacket I won at RaceFest last year just in case. As it turns out, it was raining 100% all the way to Charlotte and a light rain was still falling when we arrived. I have an aversion to being cold or wet, so I decided to run the race wearing the jacket over what most runners would already consider too much clothing (an Under Armour Cold Gear shirt under another short-sleeved shirt). Of course I was too hot after the first couple miles and I ended up carrying the jacket the last three miles of the race. You’d think I would have figured that out by my 111th race. Maybe next time.
This is generally a well organized race with plenty of volunteers, and with the throngs of runners that show up each year it’s definitely a popular event. Bojangles is one of the sponsors, and I like being able to go into the huge Bojangles restaurant both before and after the race to get coffee and a biscuit or whatever (Note to self: that Bo-Berry Biscuit you ate at 8:30 a.m. probably didn’t make you any faster.). It’s always nice to see our Charlotte running friends, but realistically, we see a lot more people we know in the smaller races in Charlotte that don’t attract nearly as many people who run just one race a year.
There are two major things I dislike about this race though…
1). The Porta-Potty situation is crappy (no pun intended). With thousands of people vying for a seat on the potty they need to be plentiful, but that’s not the case. I’m not sure how many there were, but there weren’t nearly enough because the lines were way too long. I stood in line for about 10 minutes but was still nowhere near the bathroom door when I decided to cut my losses and hold it until after the race. To put it in perspective, I ran the New York City Marathon three weeks ago, a race roughly ten times the size, and there were virtually no Porta-Potty lines at all. I’m not saying that the Turkey Trot needs as many Porta-Potties as the NYC Marathon, but they do need enough to accommodate at least 5,000 people adequately, and that’s a lot more than they had.
2). This race has the most crowded starting line of any race I have ever seen. What’s up with that? Last year I was near the front of the start and was packed in so tightly that I could have died and my body would have remained standing until the starting gun went off. This year after leaving the Porta-Potty line about ten minutes before the race began I finally nudged my way into the crowd maybe 20-30 yards in back of the starting line, where it was a little less crowded. I don’t mind so much being back a little if I’m late to the starting line (which I was) but it was plain to see that half the people in front of me were a variety of slow runners, walkers, little kids, and what have you, that I had to spend the first half mile or so dodging and working my way around. I love to see everybody running, young and old, big and small, fast and slow, but most races with thousands of runners use some type of a corral system that allows the faster runners to start up front, followed by people of similar speeds. After 22 years you would think they would do that here; instead, it’s a free-for-all when the race starts, making it one of the most exasperating racing starts that I’ve been a part of.
But I digress. After all, it’s Thanksgiving, and I guess I should just be happy and thankful that I’m able to run. Sorry if any of that sounded cranky. Happy Thanksgiving!
Race Rating:
9 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
6 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
5 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
3 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 0-10 Other
TOTAL – 88
Race Stats:
1st Overall Male: Bert Rodriguez (24:50)
1st Overall Female: Alice Rogers (28:34)
My Stats:
Time: 35:46
Pace: 7:12
Age Group: 6 of 94 (6.4%)
Overall: 251 of 4300 (5.8%)
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Race #65 – Southpark Turkey Trot 8k – Charlotte NC – 11/26/09

One of Charlotte’s most popular road races of the year, the Southpark Turkey Trot has people running off the calories before they even sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Yesterday I received an email from the race directors stating that the race was full, with 6,000 registered runners. Not all of that was for the 8k; there was a separate 5k race, a 1 mile fun run, and a 26.2 yard Tot Trot. Still, the main event was the 8k, and when it was over a total of 3,742 runners crossed the finish line in the 8k alone.
It was a big race for me personally since it was the fourth  of nine races in the Running Journal Grand Prix series. I’m running most of those Grand Prix races this year in an attempt to gain points in the 55-59 age group. Today I finished 3rd of 93 runners in my age group (33:28 chip time – 6:45 pace) so I’m happy about that. The top 8 runners in each race receive Grand Prix points, and after the first four races I’ve finished in 2nd place twice and 3rd place twice.
For Linda and I, it was our first Southpark Turkey Trot and with so many runners expected we weren’t sure how far away we would have to park. It was a pleasant surprise when we arrived about 7:30 that there was plenty of parking still available within 100 yards of the starting line. I’m sure as time passed people had to park farther and farther away but there’s plenty of parking available in the Southpark Mall parking lot.
About 20 minutes before race time I left Linda in the way-too-long porta-pottie line (there were a total of about 16 — not nearly enough for 6,000 runners plus spectators). Just down Morrison Boulevard I met up with Bob Nelson, who has become a good friend at the races despite the fact that he beats me every time. We jogged up to near the starting line, and maybe 10 minutes before the race the runners started lining up (we had to wait for the completion of the 1-mile fun run). We both wedged our way in, maybe 4 or 5 rows behind the elite runners. As we waited for the starting gun, more and more runners who didn’t want to be stuck in back of slower runners kept piling in until it felt like we were standing in a solid mass of people. There was no way to move in any direction and I just hoped I wouldn’t be crushed in the stampede at the start of the race.
As the race began, things were actually very orderly and it seemed like everybody was just glad to be free from the solid mass of humanity. I lost sight of Bob right from the git-go and tried to settle in to a decent pace for me. At the first mile marker I was at 6:35, which is about right along the lines of what works for me lately. My second mile was my fastest, then I slowed down about 50 seconds or so for the mile 3, but picked it up some for the last 2 miles. Here are my mile splits:
  • Mile 1 – 6:35
  • Mile 2 – 6:19
  • Mile 3 – 7:07
  • Mile 4 – 6:58
  • Mile 5 – 6:27
Around the 4-mile mark I heard somebody in back of me say, “Hey Bob!” There are a lot of guys named Bob but I kind of wondered if Bob Nelson, who is always in front of me, could have somehow ended up in back of me for 4 miles. Sure enough, Bob Nelson pulled up next to me and I said something like, “Where’d you come from? I thought you were out of sight in front of me.” There was a water stop just ahead and he pulled up to get water. I kept on running. He’s one of those guys who can get a drink of water and not slow down; I’m one of those guys who gets the water and spills it all over himself. So, I thought, I’ll gain an extra second of two on Bob, but just as I expected, he was on a mission, and with maybe a quarter mile to go he pulled his hydrated self past me and I was down for the count. He ended up 2nd in our age group and I was 3rd, a few seconds behind, and we were both beat by about a minute by a fast runner from Winston-Salem, Charles Morrow.
 We had been warned in advance via Theoden’s blog that the post-race refreshments were being kept to a minimum because people wanted to get home and be with their families, so no surprise there.
The half man/half turkey logo, which apparently got quite a few complaints (I kind of like it myself) was not on the T-shirt this year. The T-shirt was nicely designed and was a long-sleeved cotton shirt.
At first I was just a little disappointed in the age group awards. First the awards were given for the One-Mile Fun Run. They received possibly the nicest trophies I’ve ever seen at a race. Okay. So I’m thinking, wow… the awards must be spectacular the the 8k, which is the main race. Nope. Age group winners for the 8k instead received a beveled glass crescent inscribed with the race info. In retrospect, even though I didn’t like them as well they were probably more expensive than the trophies and possibly would have been preferred by other age group winners. The top winners (overall and masters) received really cool-looking wooden turkey sculptures (you had to see them to appreciate them).

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

Race Rating

9 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
8 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
4 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other
TOTAL – 93
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Race #12 – Lake Norman Turkey Trot – Huntersville NC – 11/27/08

In anticipation of eating too much later on, we decided to work it off in advance by running the 5k at the Lake Norman Turkey Trot in Huntersville. The weather was freezing — about 28 degrees when we arrived — and not much warmer at 8:00 a.m. when the races started. The three races (5k, 10k, and half marathon) started a few minutes apart and everybody ran the same the same route — one loop for the 5k, two loops for the 10k, and four loops for the half marathon. The race was run on the roads of a large office complex, and being Thanksgiving Day all of the offices were closed so there was no traffic to contend with, but there was also the absence of the great scenery you get in a lot of races with routes through historic neighborhoods and beatiful natural areas and that sort of thing.
After the race the food was pretty good — lots of bananas, Dunkin’ Donuts, Gatorade and bottled water — although some coffee or hot chocolate would have been nice to go along with the donuts and to thaw out the frozen runners.
Linda and I lucked out once again and both got 1st place in the 55-59 age groups (male and female.) The awards ceremony was supposed to be at 10:30 so at 9:45 we went to the Starbucks up the street and, wouldn’t you know, by the time we got back they had started the awards ceremony early and we missed our awards. We were able to get them afterwards along with some other people who also went to Starbucks at the wrong time. The awards were excellent though — nice quality plaques with large letters and graphics.
Race Rating:
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
8 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 – 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
4 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
6 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 81
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