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4 Jackets for all seasons, a matching rain pant and classic 100% pre-shrunk cotton tees just like olden times! Not those new-fangled smelly technical tees! If a code is needed, it is PSUTFAL

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Running With the Kenyans

I spent the weekend in Valley Forge honing my work skills, but mostly nursing the flu after my attempt of a run with the Kenyans in Valley Forge Park.  The Streak lives on, but only barely.  Respiratory distress is not a good way to end the weekend.  I was saved by the return of Gino's to King of Prussia.*  (see below)  (Everybody Goes to Gino's!)

The Blog missed me at least a little bit, which is why I'm always in search of guest bloggers, which has met with limited success. Anyone wishing to occasionally opine about something barely related to Running, PSU, Golf or Physics, just let me know.

While I was away, Penn State came in 4th in both Men's and Women's Cross-Country Championships in Madison, Wisconsin.  A good outcome for both teams, I dare say.  The future is quite bright for the whole program.  More on this later.

Here's a few tidbits unrelated to anything, but should provide a chuckle or two.

  1. An Australian man recently set the world record for belly button lint collection.  Apparently, thermal underwear makes the most.
  2. Science has proven that magic really works!  Sort of. Sometimes. Kinda.
  3. NASA solved the problem of paying the price for returning astronauts from MarsThey won't.
  4. The McRib is in a triumphant nation-wide revival for 6 weeks.  Join the cult.
  5. Gino's actually has returned.  Gino Marchetti was inducted to the Football of of Fame in the 70's.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PSU Track Alumni (Golfers) Excel at Coaching

News from the wide world of Cross Country and Track has made its way to my keyboard.  Several alums are excelling all over the country.  And none of them has to coach Sue Heck of Orson, Iowa.

  1. Tom Rapp coaches Zach Wills of Mason, Ohio.  Tom can be seen in this video of Zach's exploits. (Thanks to his ex-roommate Larry Mangan for the link.)
  2. Tyler McCandless has just signed up as a high school coach in his adopted Colorado home.
  3. Kate Curran's St. Lawrence University teams are #1 and #2 in the Division III  Eastern rankings.
  4. There are many, many more great Coaches among our ranks.  Send me an update on any of them in the comments.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Nothing is scarier to distance runners than THIS SIGN.  Non-distance runners can approximate the horror by thinking of two of these, back to back, (and then missing dinner besides!).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We Are Published!

Although not yet on the New York Times Best Seller List, The "Best" of Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golf, The Blog, 2008-2009 edition, has been published! 

This version, as well as the coming 2010 edition will be ready for perusal and autographs at the 2011 Coach Harry Groves Golf Tourney and Reunion.  Copies can be ordered from me, or you can just wait for review at our annual get-together.  It is beautifully bound, with glossy print.  Everything good you've come to expect from our humble blog, except the videos!

The book is dedicated to Coach Groves and all of his athletes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Juniors Show Strong Finishes at PSU National

Both second-place finisher Kyle Dawson and third-place finisher Vince McNally show a strong finish on the hilly last mile on the Blue/White Penn State Course.  Both Kyle and Vince are Juniors, which bodes well for the championship season and beyond.

video

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Second Photo Caption Contest is Here!

Supply a suitable caption for this photo in the comment section below.  The top five will be picked by a totally disinterested member of my family and we'll vote for the best one in the near future.  The prize is another gift certificate to the Berkey Creamery with sufficient funds to obtain 2 cones or a whole half gallon of gooey goodness.  Mark Haywood is again eligible for the top prize despite the top 2 entries in the first contest, so put your thinking caps on. He'll be hard to beat.

"I'm More Human Now"

Despite my earlier pronouncement that I would wait for a vote among Officers, I am officially making Edison Pena of Chile an Hall of Honor recipient of Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golf.  After reading this account and interview with the BBC, his ordeal and his reaction to it deserve praise and adulation.  Not only did he worry the doctors monitoring all the miners due to his reliance on exercise regimen while trapped, he ran 8K daily while dragging a wooden cart in sweltering humid conditions!  Coach Groves would have put Edison on his team no matter what his fastest times were, possibly even making him team captain.  I hope Edison finds peace during his adjustment to "life" again.  Anyone seeing him at the New York Marathon, be sure to give him the group's best.  Photos show Edison during one of his workouts with a camera delivered through a small drill hole, and Edison running on the beach after his rescue.


Lock Haven has Rabid Cross-Country Fans

Coach Sullivan really admires the Lock Haven program, especially after the snowfall last year forced cancellation of the Penn State National.  Lock Haven stepped up and immediately volunteered to put up a meet that very afternoon, allowing more than half the scheduled teams to compete rather than go home.

I discovered just how rabid the Lock Haven people are when lining up to watch the finish of the Women's race, and this is what I saw!


Coach Sullivan is correct, Lock Haven is a special place for cross-country!  Congrats to Nick Hilton (from Exeter High School, also home of Keeper of the Cup Harry Smith!) whose 13th place finish propelled him to PSAC Athlete of the Week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Harry Groves Golf Tournament and Reunion Set to Grow Exponentially in Its Tenth Year: And is Coach Groves the Black Knight?

High level meetings were held this weekend following the Penn State National Cross-Country Meet between top officials of Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golf and representatives of The Nittany Lion Club and The Varsity "S" Club.  Actually, I talked to both group idol Ken Brinker and Mike Milliron of the Varsity "S" Club at the reception at Damon's following the race.  High level meetings sounded so much better!

One of the great benefits of having thrown myself into "the herding of cats" by blogging about all things PSU Track and XC, is the great people I have met along the way.  No other group I have ever been associated with has more intelligent members, more interesting members and more passionate members.  Ken and Mike both fit that description.  In our wide-ranging discussions it became evident that the Athletic Department is thrilled with what our little group has accomplished with our meager resources.  From our founding by Clark Haley and continuing with great leadership under Harry Smith and others, our group has always given 100% of our proceeds back to the program, and they have noticed.  The resources of the Varsity "S" Club and Nittany Lion Club will be utilized to reach out to all 1500 members of the PSU Track Alumni (second only to Football in numbers) through email and newsletters.  Members of both groups and the Athletic Department are poised to golf with us this year.  They asked whether we could handle 30 foursomes this year!  We can always dream.  Participation this year will bring automatic inclusion in both groups, as we already designate all our proceeds toward the endowments for Track and Field/Cross-Country scholarships.  There may come a time when the track and xc programs are completely self-funded (like the new Hockey Program!).  If monetary donations are not in the cards for you (I can certainly understand!), enthusiasm and participation is all that is asked of you.  We are a group that accepts all members, and everyone is treated to the same level of loving ridicule as Olympians, All-Americans, or plain shlubs like me.

And in keeping with the mirthful theme of our group, I must present some interesting observations about the recent Penn State National XC Meet.  I had been unaware of the changes to the course made in the last few years, and was taken aback by the inclusion of a narrow bridge along the course. (I'm all for it, by the way!)  And when evidence of grievous bodily injury to 2 Alumni Team members due to a mishap near the half-mile mark, I assumed a guardian at the bridge was restricting passage. Now, photographic evidence has emerged showing  Coach Groves somewhere along the route near the bridge prior to the start.  Could it be that Coach Groves is actually The Black Knight of Monty Python fame, and "None Shall Pass" (at least without a fight)*? I'm more intrigued by the fact that the two have never been photographed together.
 Photos include the Alumni Team with Coach Sullivan, the infamous bridge and Coach Groves somewhere along the course...



*Coach Groves is certainly not The Black Knight and no disrespect was intended with the joking speculation.  Everyone knows that Coach is a White Knight in all matters.

Photos courtesy of Dennis Pollow and Teddy Quinn.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"None Shall Pass" (Actually, Only a Couple Did)

One against the men and 2 against the women.  It was a good showing at the Penn State National Invitational Cross-Country Meet at PSU this weekend.  A large number of quality teams participated in the event with the Men coming in second and the Women coming in third.

The finish of the Mens race was quite exciting with Kyle Dawson and Vince McNally (both Juniors!)  accelerating from the trailing pack to place second and third respectively.  All the scoring runners are improving each race, with the MIDDLE DISTANCE runners astounding everyone with their distance prowess.  Syracuse took the Mens title, trailed by PSU and Villanova, all ranked teams.

The Womens race was equally exciting with PSU placing third to Villanova and Syracuse.  PSU had a great spread of only :24 seconds.  Sophomore Brooklynne Ridder paced the squad with her 20th place finish.

In my long absence from the college XC scene I was not aware that it has become a contact sport.  Somewhere after the half mile mark there is apparently a bridge with a Black Knight not allowing passage without a fight!  A large number of participants were felled by the Knight. Two on the Alumni Team were bloodied in the melee.  I'm not aware of anyone still missing, but it certainly looks awful compared to the genteel sport I was familiar with.  We only attained marks like this when working out in Rec Hall!

  "It's Only a Flesh Wound!"

Despite starting in the very last corral (near Park Forest). the Alumni team of Dennis Pollow, Brian Fuller, Teddy Quinn, Cody Edling, Kevin Fuller, and Tim Johnson beat the Pitt Panthers and 4 other teams with their 22nd place team finish. They all looked resplendent with their Letterman Jackets at the alumni reception at our usual Damon's Haunt afterward.  I had offered my services as a 7th man, but officials would not allow my walker on the course.  I bring you this unique perspective on a XC start instead:

video


And here is footage smuggled in from the half-mile mark by brave survivors.  Let's hope the woods are rid of the riff-raff by the time of the NCAA Regionals!


And here are photos of current Letterman Jackets along with my size 34",  "Old School" model!






Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elvis and a 10 K

Edison Pena has become a Chilean hero. but more importantly a hero of mine as well.  During his 2 month "subterranean vacation", Edison wiled away his time by running 10K a day and listening to Elvis music.  While I aspire to the 10 K daily and the time-transcending tunes of Elvis, I don't know if I could have pulled off what he did.  My PSU XC cap is off to Edison and I wish him well on his triumphant trip to Graceland. (I remember my one and only trip to the perimeter of Graceland on a pre-flight jog in Memphis.  I didn't have the time to visit during regular hours!) Jailhouse Rock for real!

Edison Pena will be added to our ranks as an honorary PSU Track and Field Alumni Golfer.  When a quorum of officers are assembled, we'll decide whether or not to include him in the Hall of Honor.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Greatest Shoe Ever Made?

Due to my choice of profession, I am often asked "What is the best running shoe?".  My answer is invariably, "They don't make it anymore."  The recent craze of "minimalism" in running shoes is an overcompensation for the extensive cushioning all the shoe companies competed with each other to provide.  Air, gels, foams and more are put into shoes to provide off-the-shelf shock absorbing qualities which deteriorate quickly after your first miles.  A professor once described these gimmicks as "horsesh*t and splinters", especially when done to excess.  For us old joggers, they are fine, but for the competitive runners, they may not provide what's needed. Cushioning vertical forces, for the physics nuts out there, provides less horizontal force, the mainstay of a fast runner.  "Barefooters" and minimalists point to anecdotal evidence that today's shoes lead to more injuries.  True science shows a different story, something conspiracy theorists in the running community never heed.

The "perfect" combination of cushioning, wear (and quality looks!) was provided in the Nike Internationalists from back in 1978 or so.  I honestly put more than 4,000 miles on one pair without wearing out the out-sole and they still had the same cushioning (albiet less than today to start with) than when they were brand new. ( I know some will dispute this, but it's true!  Remember, I weighed less than $1.20 and couldn't afford a new pair anyway!)  I saved them and could still run in them if a gun was held to my head.  (Sometimes that is what it takes nowadays to run anyway.)  Nike even brought them back a few years ago, but they weren't the same and came in colors that were less than desirable.

By the way, Adidas Spiders were the "perfect" spike, just to show I can give some love to the other companies.  That green suede  was indestructible, even when a teammate spiked you in a cross country meet, removing your big toenail with surgical precision. (Don Ziter, this means you.) My toe was mangled but the shoe lived on. The trip to Ritenour (Wait an Hour) Health Center was memorable and sealed my choice of profession, if only to treat others better than I was treated that day.

I want feedback on "the greatest shoe ever made".  Give me a comment on your ideal shoe in the comment section below!

Coming Soon:  Another Photo Caption Contest with Prize to be determined when I'm in State College for the Penn State National.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ten Questions: Beth (Stever) Shisler- Hall of Honor Member

1.   What song immediately brings back memories of Penn State?
      Just one?????
       99 nuft balloons  Nena
       Safety dance     Men without hats
       Modern love       Bowie
       Thriller   Michael Jackson
We girls also listened to Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones and the Kinks  .....Lola
Not from the 80s but still fond fond memories     

2.   Who was the biggest team clown during your track years?
       We didn't clown around we were serious about running....kidding  ......maybe Gerkin was the funiest though
.
3.   What was your best PSU Track or XC performance?
       800 at Maryland 2.08.00
      4x800 1984 6th place Syracuse NCAAs, still standing indoor 4x800 school record

4.   What is your best Coach Groves memory?
      The modified workouts the Coach Swartz posted, which were really Coach Groves (did he at least rewrite them from the Groves' scrawl?)
      At the Keystone State Games in 1983, I ran a 2.11.9  800.  Coach Groves asked me how the hell I did that.  I told him I didn't know because I hadn't ran and was mostly roofing with my dad.  Coach said "see, that's what I am talking about".  I didn't know what he meant then and truly I thought he was mad.  But today  I think he meant that we shouldn't run all year round.

5.   What was your favorite haunt/watering hole in State College back in the day?
      "The boy's apartment" above Lion's Pride ( John Zeigler would be proud to know his apartment lingered on long after he left!)

6.   What was your least favorite workout?
      Any Cross Country Workout....here's a confession...I didn't even know what Cross Country was till my first day of practice and another freshman told me what it was.   Specific workout was the fartlek workout that Coach Jordon liked to dish out.  We each picked a distance out of a hat...ugh.

7.   What was the best place you lived while at Penn State?
     In the apartment above  Lion's Pride with Holly Loht, Tracy Spalvins and Anda Spalvins.  Next door was Heidi Gerkin and Merbud.  Downstairs was Steve, Randy and Benman and next building over was Mac and Johnny Evans.  What a great time!  (You can see that academics was a priority!)
 
8.   What is your most embarrassing moment while attending Penn State?
      Having my head hung over a toilet and passing out there.....i have no recollection where though.

9.   What exercising do you currently do?
       Jog 2-3 x a week
       Bike 1 x a week

10.  What was the actual ratio of Morning workouts/runs reported vs. those actually done?
      I think about half until Coach Jordon met us each morning and took roll.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Track Alumni (Golfers) in the News: And a Caption Contest Winner

Tyler McCandless continues what must be one very long competitive season in placing 8th at the Boston Half-Marathon in 1:06:06.  His next race is next month at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon.  He'll get his sub 1:05:00 there.

Luke Watson also continues his impressive ways in winning the Steamtown Marathon this past weekend.  I'm still looking for the time, though.( Update: 2:16:41) Luke is a PSU grad student, and we never hold his Notre Dame degree against him.  Our tent is a very large one, even for non-golfers!

And I see James Carney dropped out at the Chicago Marathon at 1:05:3x on a brutal Fall day.  He's obviously living to fight another day. 


Addendum II:  Aleesha Barber placed 5th for Trinidad and Tobago at the Commonwealth Games.

Most impressive of all, however, is Mark Haywood's choice entry in the photo caption content.  I'll always vote for the guy making fun of Gary.  The Chicago-style voting made this our most popular poll yet.  I'm not entirely sure how many times Mark's great-great grandparents voted, but Al Capone will award the gift certificate to The Creamery to Mark shortly.  Another caption contest will be held shortly.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Kevin Dare Benefit Golf Tournament Video: Finally!

I have to apologize to the fine folks who ran the Benefit and the many great people helping out all along the course, in the main tent area before, and the banquet area afterward.  It was a truly fine affair. I had hoped to bring more videos in a more timely fashion, but my "reality" interfered, and made it more difficult than I had imagined.  I hope to have more soon.

In trying to put perspective on the whole thing, I've thought long and hard about what it all means.  When Kevin had his accident, every one of us PSU Track Alumni, even those of  us who didn't even know about it, lost a little piece of ourselves.  Such is the bond of a group such as ours, that transcends coaches, administration, facilities and time.  We are all part of a great tradition.  Those younger than myself may not realize it yet, but we are all bound together with bonds stronger than most, maybe only exceeded by family itself.  My heart goes out to the Dare family, but I'm happy I had the privilege to celebrate his life with them.

If a piece of us was taken away following his accident, we must remember that a bigger piece was added to us each time he soared closer and closer to 17 or even 18 feet in the pole vault.  And with each Golf Tournament held in his honor, and each time we remember him in our prayers, we grow a little bit stronger and shine a little brighter.

Here's a little video of our group in action at the Dare Tourney.  This is the "B" group, although you won't be able to tell by the quality of the golf here!

video

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Forget The Penn State National!

* Artists conception of a REAL Cross-Country Race!  Only hay bales would make it any better.

Remember last year's canceled meet at PSU due to a freak snowstorm.  PSU was dealt a lot of unwarranted criticism because of it, and discovered a great friend in Lock Haven in the bargain.  Kudos to the coaches at LHU for putting on that meet last year at the very last minute.  More than half the participants were able to race that weekend because of their heroic efforts.


This year, the Penn State National will be held on October 16 at the 8K/6K Blue/White Course at 10:00AM   It's a non-football weekend, so accommodations will be readily available.  Think about coming out for the race and the Tailgate afterwards, 2:00PM to 5:00PM at our favorite Haunt, Damon's Grill.  Our continued support is really starting to make a difference, both monetarily and otherwise.  We can make our Track Alumni Group the largest and most active on the planet.  (AND make PSU the preeminent go-to Track and Cross-Country program in the United States.)  If you doubt me or Ken Brinker and all the other hard-working members of our group, stop by and see for yourselves.  Wonderful things are happening on the XC courses and track at Dear Ole State!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Great Performances

Both the Women's and Men's Teams had great performances last weekend at Notre Dame, one of the biggest and most prestigious mid-season meets of the year.  The Men placed 5th in a strong field, besting many higher ranked teams and moving up to third in the regional rankings as a result!  Again, a big contribution was made by the middle-distance men, which means we may have to start calling them middle and long-distance men.  The Women placed 10th, also besting their share of highly ranked teams.  This sets them up for the Penn State National, which I hope to be able to report in person.


Also of note recently was a great performance of canine proportions Jefferson the Dog (aka Peter Donato) set the World Record for Mascots in the Marathon.  Don't try this at home!  A 4:15:03 marathon in a full mascot costume (except for running shoes) is a feat worthy of acclaim.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ten Questions: Gary Black, Hall of Honor Member


1.   What song immediately brings back memories of Penn State?
2.   Who was the biggest team clown during your track years?
3.   What was your best PSU Track or XC performance?
4.   What is your best Coach Groves memory?
5.   What was your favorite haunt/watering hole in State College back in the day?
6.   What was your least favorite workout? 
7.   What was the best place you lived while at PSU?
8.   What is your most embarrassing moment while attending Penn State?
9.   What exercising do you currently do?
10. What was the best home football game you attended? 

1.     1.   Rock lobster.  Played at every major track/x-c party for my freshman through first Sr. year, but usually not until everyone was in the “proper frame of mind”.

2.      2. Team clown……….hmm, weren’t we all?  Hard to single one out, but Close & Chumley& Steve Black, or Ted Lyon & Ricky Garcia come to mind as best groups.

3.      3.  My best performance at PSU?  I think my imitation of a distance runner over a six year period should have earned me an Oscar.  To quote Churchill (sort of), “never has one person with so little done even less for almost no one”.

4.       4. Best Coach memory suitable for public airwaves:  A few of us were standing around, talking with Coach  before a workout at the track, when Ricky Garcia walked up.  Due to some perceived transgression, Coach whipped out a starter’s pistol and shot Ricky.  We all jumped about 10 feet in the air, and then proceeded to double over in laughter.

5.      5.   Favorite watering hole always depended on the night and the special.  Bucket or case of rocks at the Skellar, 7 beers/buck at the Saloon come to mind.  Actually, I’m surprised ANYTHING comes to mind.

6.       6.  Least favorite workout was the 10 quarter repeats we did every Monday outdoors my freshman year.  And just in case Snyder, Wyatt, Rapp, and Scharsu were having an off day and not hitting every one under 55, Mangan was always there to make sure the last 2 went in sub 46. (or so it seemed at the time to those of us left to contemplate how to untie our shoes without touching the cookies we’d just tossed).

7.       7..  Best place I lived was my second Sr. year, when I lived at home and, because my family had moved (I received a Christmas card several years later, explaining why they had left and where I could find them), I had the place to myself.  I mean a whole house for free!!!  Life has only gone downhill since then.

8.       8. Ok, there were an awful lot of them, but one of the worst had to be my freshman year, at an indoor meet at Lehigh.  Turns out I had forgotten my running shoes (some trick, because I probably owned nothing but running shoes back then) and had to warm up and down, in hiding, in my leather dress shoes, so that Coach wouldn’t see me and invent a new word for f@*kup that would have made even him blush.

9.       9.  I do not exercise anymore, but instead have chosen a transcendentally meditative lifestyle.  I have been assured that, on my death bed, I will receive total consciousness.  So I  got that going for me, which is nice…..

10.   10.  PSU vs. Pitt, 1973.  PSU Senior running back John Cappelletti vs. Pitt Freshman. running back Tony Dorsett.  PSU won, and Dorsett put on a good show.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 2010 Alumni Reunion Run

It was a well attended event, seeing as it was held at the early hour of 9:00 AM following the reunion evening festivities the night before.  Three Olympians attended, including 2 American Record Holders, numerous All-Americans and Penn State Record Holders.  Martha Baskwill bested Gary Black in the family 400 M competition, while Nick K. and Steve Balkey garnered mile victories.  Coach Groves provided running commentary as only he can.  Video provided by Keeper of the Beer, Clark Haley.

video

PSU Track Alum (Golfers) in the News: Steve Walsh and Mark Hawkins

Steve Walsh has begun his tenure as Track and Cross-Country Coach at William and Mary, which I'm positive will become a successful transition for both Steve and W and M. In an interview after his first several days, Steve was asked about Coach Groves' influences on his career choice.
You said in college you ran for Harry Groves, who used to be our coach here. Were there any stories that Harry would pop out about William and Mary? Or when this job came open, was Harry on the phone saying, “Look, you have got to take this job”?
"Yeah, when I called him about it, there was no question, he was like, “You have got to get that job.” He was a huge supporter of William and Mary. Even when we were at Penn State, he’d either talk about Penn State or he’d talk about William and Mary. And he always talked Wand M in the highest regards, always talked about the Colonial Relays and the importance of the Colonial Relays. We would come down every year. When I told him that the job opened and that I was informed about it, right away, he had stories on stories about how great the College is and what an unbelievable area it is and that he thinks that you can do so much down here. So he was a big reason why I kind of looked at the job and was interested in it, because just like I want to get my kids to have a lot of trust in me, I trusted Coach Groves. And if he says it’s the place to be, it’s the place to be"
And us old-timers are still hanging in there!  Larry Mangan sent me Great News from the Great Race in Pittsburgh last week.  In a race with more than 4,000 runners, 51 year-old (sorry about that Mark!) Mark Hawkins placed 20th in the 5 K race with his 17:55. This was a return to running after a few years that boggles my mind. You can see Mark finishing strong in the video from KDKA by scrolling ahead to his finishing time HERE.  Not too shabby; he's giving the 49 year-old Jeff Adkins a run for his money! My 3 10:00 miles daily pale in comparison.

Thanks again to Larry for the tip.  Larry has been one of the blog's biggest supporters, and will become an Idiot Officer as soon as I come up with a suitable title.  Suggestions are being accepted. Receptionists are standing by!  And now that you all have heard about Mark's exploits, pester him to attend our golf outing this year.  He has a knack for photography, a skill sorely needed  by our group.  (Although I do have some video upcoming from our well attended Alumni Run at last year's reunion starring Coach Groves as starter, timer and one-liner deliverer.)
 
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