Jim MacLaren was an outstanding athlete at Yale University, especially in lacrosse and football. Running was a something of a gift of his, but after a motorcycle accident in 1985, he lost his left leg below the knee and nearly died. Remarkably, he went on not only to recover, but to run a marathon in 3 hours and 16 minutes and to complete the Hawaiian Ironman in 10 hours and 42 minutes.

However, his resilience would be tested again in 1993 when, during the Orange County Triathlon, a van hit him during the cycle portion of the race and he collided with a sign post, rendering him a quadriplegic.

A few members of the endurance sports community raised funds so that he could buy a vehicle – a van – that he could drive with his hands. This fundraiser raised far more than expected and from this drive, the Challenged Athletes Foundation was born and to date has grown so big that it has raised over $53 million in aiding athletes with similar physical challenges continue or progress in active sporting life. 

Today, Spartan Race announced its official charity partnership with Challenged Athletes Foundation.

“When you meet a CAF athlete, you can’t help and feel their determination to face their adversity with pride and a smile….this is inspiring beyond belief” said Joe De Sena, Founder and CEO of Spartan Race. “We see challenged athletes on our course more and more; we are not only honored to assist in raising funds for CAF but also happy to have a partner that shares in our philosophy that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.”

To suggest that CAF changes people’s lives would be an understatement. Supporting all walks of life from wounded troops to children and first responders, CAF has it covered. In actual fact, Challenged Athletes Foundation supported 33% of the USA Paralympic Team in Sochi for the 2014 winter games, in which they won 18 medals, two of which were gold.

Another feather in the CAF cap is its program, Operation Rebound. This program is the premier sports and fitness program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities.  It provides unparalleled opportunities to pursue active, athletic lifestyles by offering access to funding for equipment, training, competition expenses, sports clinics and mentoring activities. This helps troops and first responders to harness the healing power of sport, whether the goal is podium gold or riding a bike around the block with their kids.

This partnership, which starts today, will see Spartan Race raise funds for CAF through various means including the online registration pages, event activations and various media and marketing campaigns. Naturally, raising awareness and funding of the charity and those it helps is the main intention of the partnership. Spartan Race is very excited to share the news that CAF will coordinate not only grant presentations at a selected number of Spartan Race events, but will help in bringing athletes to the events to compete.

So far, just from that one small fundraiser to buy a van, CAF has gone on to raise some $53 million, has helped with  over 9,500 funding requests across not just all states of America, but in dozens of countries, too.

CAF’s signature event – The San Diego Triathlon Challenge – last year attracted over 5,000 visitors and boasted a fantastic 1 mile swim, 44 mile ride and 10 mile run for the competitors to test their mettle.

“It was an important goal in seeking a charity partner to find an organization that was aligned with our mission to change people’s lives through physical activity” said Coleen McManus, Charity Development Director at Spartan.

So we’d like the Spartan Race community to welcome Challenge Athlete Foundation to the family and urge you to check out their website here.

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Spartans give generously… and so will the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships. Everyone runs for a reason and often that reason is something bigger than yourself. Committing to a cause gives your race more purpose; it drives you harder to perform because you’re no longer just doing it for yourself. You become part of something bigger.

Among the festivities of the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships is the Spartan Charity Challenge. Teams of 5 people have chosen a charity and they will run on behalf of and compete at the Spartan World Championships. Many charities within the Charity Heat will be highlighted on the 90 minute nationally broadcast NBC Sports show.

The 4 mile Spartan Charity Challenge heat will take place Sunday, September 22 at 10am. A total prize purse of $5,000 for the 5 fastest teams. The fastest 3 participants time from each team are used in this determination with the funds donated to the charity they’re associated with.

Spartans give generously!

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The Reebok Spartan Race World Championships are kicking off with a Pre-Beast Feast Friday evening at 5:30PM and will feature special guest speaker Elaine LaLanne. Elaine LaLanne was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Middle-America where it was not uncommon to lunch on hot dogs, ice cream, chocolate doughnuts, candy and soft drinks. A smoker at age 27 and still continuing her Midwest eating habits, Elaine worked at KGO, an ABC-TV affiliate in San Francisco. There she co-hosted and booked talent for the Les Malloy Show, a very popular local talk and variety program with a 12 piece orchestra, which aired each weekday from 4:30 to 6:00 in the afternoon. It was there she first met Jack LaLanne, who said to her:

“You should be eating apples and oranges and bananas and if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t tell you this.”  Elaine remembers looking up at him while puffing on her cigarette saying, “Oh Yeah”

Jack’s comment made her take a good hard look at herself and her life. She remembered all the physical and mental obstacles she had in her life. Her days as a synchronized swimmer years prior in the early 40’s posed challenges in itself: keeping her head above water while performing and with a smile. Another challenge that presented itself to her was to quit smoking and give up the chocolate donuts and bear claws, which she did. She then decided to take a hard look at herself: her chest line was sinking to her waistline and her legs were getting that washboard look. She decided to start exercising daily at a class that Jack conducted during lunchtime at the studio. Elaine overhauled her eating habits and her results were remarkable. Her skin became smoother and tighter. She had actually transformed her body through proper exercise and diet by reaching small goals all looking towards the finish line. Through the years she has overcome many injuries, and has never given up.

So, how did they get together? As Elaine puts it “We danced at a company party and we danced ever since”. From that time on she has made it her mission to stand beside Jack and preach the fitness message to all that would listen.

Today Elaine, a television pioneer who appeared in the first live television commercials in San Francisco in 1948, says she feels 29. Now in her late-eighties she looks nothing like her age. She has written five books; Fitness After Fifty, Dynastride, Fitness After Fifty Workout, Total Juicing and Eating Right For A New You. She was also a national spokesperson for POST BRAN FLAKES and besides appearing on the Jack LaLanne Shows, she has also appeared on numerous television and radio shows worldwide including THE TODAY SHOW, THE EARLY SHOW, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, HOWARD STERN, TONY DANZA, BONNIE HUNT, and many many more. As President of BEFIT ENTERPRISES, the parent company for the Jack LaLanne Brand, Elaine still travels all over the world, preaching and lecturing on Jack’s message of better living through exercise and nutrition. She also continues Jack’s message along with son Jon, through JACK LALANNE POWER JUICER INFOMERCIALS.

“If you are around her for any length of time,” Jack used to say, “You will find that her enthusiasm for life is contagious. She can still do pushups and chin-ups; she’s a terrific golfer, expert water skier and swimmer. She is a lecturer, author, civic leader and businesswoman; a super wife and my best friend. To me she is living proof of all that a woman can be.”

We look forward to welcoming this legendary woman in the health industry to our festivities.

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Brad Kloha of Mount Pleasant, MI, doesn’t consider himself a runner. He used to do track and field back in high school, sure, but by his own admission, it was means to an end. He played volleyball and running kept up the cardio and was just a way of keeping on top of things. He suggests that running in OCR’s is merely a means of getting to the next obstacle. But last year, his means to an end became a little more important.

“In the five hour drive back from the Midwest Super Spartan in October 2012, I had a lot of time to think. It was my 12th of what would be 13 obstacle races that year, and I loved every minute of it. One of the great things about the races, is not only do they present a fun and unique challenge from everyday life, but also that most are connected to charity organizations.”

Kloha had his own charity in mind. “While all of the charities supported by these races are extremely worthy causes, I wanted to find a way to turn my love of obstacle racing into a way to also raise money for a cause near and dear to me and my family, the Alzheimer’s Association. However, with so many races already in the market, I didn’t want to create my own race, instead, I wanted to create a campaign where I could utilize the existing races out there and raise money by hopefully peaking the interest of individuals to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Out of this idea came “Run to Remember”.

He explains, “The first thought was to complete 52 races in 52 weeks, but somehow in my mind that seemed to not be enough. I wanted to push the envelope further, which is why I decided upon 100 races in 52 weeks. The same thought process came for the goal of raising $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Association…I could have gone smaller, but I wanted to attempt to have the greatest impact I could. As I pulled into my parking lot back home in Mount Pleasant, MI, the idea was firmly set in my mind – 100 races. 52 weeks. 1 goal. $1 million to support the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Alzheimers is a condition that Kloha is well-aquainted, “Alzheimer’s disease claimed the lives of both my great-grandmother, Lydia Kloha, when I was very young, and more recently, my grandmother, Phyllis Brinkman on June 18, 2011. Because I was very young at the time of my great-grandmother’s battle with the disease, I wasn’t fully aware of the devastation the disease causes, not only for the individual, but for the family. However, when my grandmother was diagnosed in 1998, I was 14, and now had an understanding of what was ahead as she, my mom, and my aunt sat down with all of the grandkids and explained the prognosis.”

The effect on Kloha was extreme, “For the next 13 years, my family and I watched as my grandmother slowly lost her memories. It started out very minor and was hardly noticeable, but eventually progressed into more difficult stages. Her short-term memory began to fade and she could only recall individuals who had been in her life up to a certain point.”

The loss of her husband, Kloha’s grandfather only furthered the seriousness of her condition.  ”After my grandfather passed away in 2004, her mental faculties took a much more significant decline. On Thanksgiving Day that same year, while we were at church, she had left a pot on the stove, and when we had returned from church the pot had caught on fire, burning her house down to a complete loss. This was the point in which my family realized she could no longer live on her own.”

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.  Something that is hard to take for those watching loved ones struggle.  ”During my grandma’s 13 year battle, I felt completely helpless. There was nothing I could for her, or for my family, to take away any of the pain or suffering. While I felt helpless then, I now feel like “Run to Remember” is my way of finally taking action. Though it can’t bring my family members back, hopefully it can have an impact for families and those afflicted in the future. I take on this task in the hope that a cure can be found.”

Kloha has many memories that will sustain him of his grandmother, “When my family celebrated my grandmother’s final birthday before she passed away, she was to the point where she wasn’t speaking, didn’t know who anyone was, and had lost much of her physical ability as well. As I sat with her and tried to talk to her while my mom made preparations for the others to arrive, she continued to stare off into the distance or look at me blankly. However, at one point, my mom said something that made me laugh, and in that instant, my grandma looked directly at me, eyes clearer than they had been in years, and grabbed my hand. She tried to speak, but wasn’t able. The moment of clarity was fleeting, but I believe at that time, my grandma knew who I was and it’s the memory that drives me forward to complete the 100 races.”

Kloha’s journey began on June 15, 2013 and will end on June 14, 2014.   He will complete 100 races.  ”I wear a sleeve on my forearm with a picture of me and grandma from her last birthday, to remind me of why I’m running. While my body feels great now, I know there may come a point in the next year that I may be tired and hurting, as I get deeper into the 100 races, but I also know that there are those with the disease and their families that are hurting even more – motivation enough for me to keep going.”

Kloha is working hard to raise funds for the research, “To date, I’ve raised just over $11,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, the majority of which was donated even before I started to run. When I started, I wanted to insure that every dollar an individual donated went right to the Alzheimer’s Association and not to me racing, so that’s how I’ve set it up. Currently, I’m paying for most all expenses myself, with many race organizers for races I’m running throughout the year graciously offering free entries to help bring down my personal costs and enable me to reach my goal.”

[Editor's Note: People can read more about Run to Remember on this website (www.runtoremember.net). They can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter. On the site, they can donate or make pledges, as well as see Kloha's race calendar, watch videos from the races, and read blog entries. There is even a “Memory Wall” where individuals can tell stories of their own experience with Alzheimer’s and honor their loved ones.]

See you at the finish line…  Sign up today!

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Ty Louis Campbell

On October 17th, 2012, Eric Cheek heard a story that would instantly build a path he felt compelled to walk down. Despite having never met him, a boy called Ty Louis Campbell would change Eric’s life forever.

Ty had been diagnosed with a rhabdoid tumor – a very rare and aggressive cancer specific to children. Despite having battled it for more than half of his short life, he ultimately passed from this terrible disease. Eric explains, “He endured procedures most grown men wouldn’t be able to handle. He went through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. The affect of these treatments were severe on his little body. He eventually lost his ability to walk or stand on his own and was paralyzed from his neck down.”

But despite the crippling pain and various procedures Ty went through, his beaming trademark smile never left his lips.

Eric continues, “As I followed his mother Cindy’s blog on www.superty.org , I prayed, at times begged, for a miracle. You see, this little boy was able to reach into my very being and leave a mark on my soul that will remain forever. I have learned so much from this little boy that I cannot accurately express, except to say that he has changed me for the better. When he earned his wings, I remember sitting on my couch in my living room and crying. I remember praying for his family and for his soul. I never got a chance to meet this little miracle. I was never really able to pay him the respect he was due or to honor him.”

There was another personal connection, “Ty’s father, Lou, is a native of Mahopac, NY, as am I and actually graduated with my older brother. And from where we come from, when someone needs help, you help.”

Eric decided to do what was natural for him. His giving nature, coupled with his passion for running made it a shoe-in for what he would do. The runner who jogs anywhere between 10 and 20 miles a week and regularly attends three bootcamps a week is now driven by a purpose.

He says, “My initial fundraiser on Crowdrise.com has a goal of $2500.00. However, I do not intend to do one fundraiser and call it quits. I will be actively involved in the Foundation for as long as they will have me. I will run as many events as I can possibly run if it will help get Ty’s story in front of more people.”

An excerpt from Cindy’s – Ty’s mother – blog written about the day Ty passed summed up what they were all feeling, “Ty Louis Campbell is gone, but his story continues. This is our promise to him. His impact on the world around him gives his short but inspirational life such meaning. His soaring spirit will continue to fuel a fire in our hearts, and strangers around the world will continue to fall in love with the little boy who fought so valiantly. The little boy who hurt so much, but maintained a bigger, brighter smile than the healthiest of children.”

Below is a link to the fundraising page. If you’d like to contribute, click HERE.

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Snap Infusion® delivers the Official SUPERCANDY® of the 2013 Reebok Spartan Race, available on course alongside water. But what makes SUPERCANDY so special and why should you make sure to grab one of those shiny little SUPERCANDY packs next time that you’re on course?

Because SUPERCANDY packs just the right amount of kick to keep you charging full-speed ahead to the finish line!

A full pack of SUPERCANDY contains more electrolytes than leading sports drinks. Electrolytes are essential to keeping you healthy and hydrated, especially when you’re losing valuable fluids and minerals by through sweat – something everyone experiences at a Spartan Race! Electrolytes also help prevent and alleviate the symptoms from cramping—and as every Spartan knows, you want to avoid cramping on course at all costs!

Did you know that SUPERCANDY also contains more antioxidants than a cup of fresh blueberries? Antioxidants help strengthen and protect your immune system by cleaning free radicals out of your bloodstream.

SUPERCANDY is also chock full of B vitamins, which give you a natural, healthy burst of energy. Unlike with caffeine and excessive sugar, this natural source of energy won’t leave you feeling shaky and like you’re about to crash. Which is awesome, because if there is one thing that you can always use more of at a Spartan Race, it would definitely be energy!

So go ahead, pound down a few SUPERCANDY samples when you’re really starting to feel the burn. SUPERCANDY comes in five types of awesome including MEL, GUMMY, BEAN, TART and GUM. Prepare to be SUPER with SNAP Infusion SUPERCANDY available at a variety of retailers including The Home Depot, City Sports and Whole Foods Market.

Performance Never Tasted So Good.

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SNAP Infusion believes in giving back, especially to the young fun and restless as a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization that delivers vitamins to millions of children around the world each year. Essential nutrients enable young immune systems to fight infectious diseases, helping children attain good health and the opportunity to lead meaningful and productive lives.

For the month of JULY, SNAP Infusion SUPERCANDY and Vitamin Angels will be highlighting the stories of SUPERKIDS of Spartan Race. Here is one about Eric Syso!

Eric’s mom Adrian says, “My 7 year old son is a bit on the shy side. He had seen me run Spartan Races. So Tuxedo 2012 he

Eric and Adrian Syso

decided to run his first Spartan Race. And he was hooked. He then ran the Fenway Park Spartan and his most recent one he dragged his 10 year old uncle along with him. They had a blast and ran the 1 mile race! I am so unbelievably proud of him. Now at home he likes to “workout” like mommy does and train for his Spartans. We go on tons of hikes and he loves to climb and jump off things. I have never seen him more in his element then I do when he races. This has been an amazing opportunity to share plenty of time together doing healthy and productive activities.”

When asked to summarize his experience Eric said, “Before Spartan Races, my adrenaline is pumping and I am ready to take off to get through the obstacles. My favorite obstacle is crawling through the mud because I like getting the mud all over so after the race I can see how hard I worked with the amount of mud I got on me. I also like winning medals! So far I have 3 of them!”Are you ready to Spartan up?  Find a race HERE and get registered!

Follow SNAP Infusion SUPERCANDY on Facebook and Twitter

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by Robert Perednia

I was introduced to the world of Spartan Racing last year at the Amesbury Sprint and was not prepared how it would change the way I look at life. Literally crawling up a trail while struggling to catch my breath, I was wondering why years of sports, weight-lifting, and running weren’t helping my legs get me up this hill. Eventually crossing the finish line covered in mud, bruises, and scrapes was a great experience but also a motivation. I went home and trained hard to attempt another race.

With a little luck, I was able to finish the Tri-State Super and Vermont Beast. The training challenged me physically and emotionally in ways I couldn’t even imagine possible, but the experience was incredible. I’ve met inspiring people I now call my friends, been on top of mountains overlooking beautiful landscapes, felt great highs, and overcome frustrating lows. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to experience these feelings and that makes it all the more special to me.

This is why I chose to run for Zack.

Zack is my friend and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a genetic disorder affecting approximately 1 in every 3,500 male births and results in progressive muscle weakness. Because the heart is a muscle and the lungs require muscle to function properly, young men with DMD typically only live into their twenties. Zack is now 20 and only able to control his fingers and head, confining him to a wheelchair. However, he is living life to the fullest and continues to excel every day. Zack is in college studying video-game design, a genius with computers, and is more educated about cars than anybody I know. Zack and other courageous young men with DMD prove strength cannot be measured and remind us that we should all take pride in the gifts we have.

So this year my goals for Spartan racing have changed. Zack is my motivation to not just finish but to run each event as hard

Bobby and Zack

as I possibly can. If I am lucky enough to place within earning a cash prize, all will go to Zack’s foundation to benefit finding a cure for DMD. The Zack Heger Foundation has been huge in supporting Muscular Dystrophy research and helped show that preventative care can improve quality of life and increase life expectancy. My small part is to be a voice for Zack’s amazing story and raise awareness for the countless other boys who have been affected by Muscular Dystrophy.

It is a privilege to run Spartan Races and Zack has helped me realize how fortunate I really am. Whether you’re competitively racing, running for fun, training at the gym, or walking the dog, what we are able to do is a blessing. I truly believe the goal in life is to make a positive difference for someone else and I hope my excitement and passion inspires you to do the same.

See you at the starting line.

For more information and to show your support, visit www.zackhegerfoundation.org.

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SNAP Infusion is a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, a charity that brings health to millions of children throughout the world. Through this partnership, SNAP Infusion and Vitamin Angels will be sharing the stories of SUPERMOMS worldwide. This is the story of Annmarie Sabovick, a woman that overcame personal tragedy early in life and went on to become a Spartan Racer and kick-a** single mother!

Annmarie’s own mother passed away from terminal breast cancer at 45 years old. At the time, Annamarie’s mother’s diagnosis only gave her 2-3 months to live; however, sheer determination and a refusal to accept defeat helped her to overcome aggressive chemotherapy, countless surgical procedures and multiple hospitalizations to extend her life for another 5 years. After becoming a mother herself, Annmarie realized that her mother’s strength came from the desire to have more time with her children, despite the fact that each day meant more pain and suffering. Annmarie says that her mother was a true SUPERMOM, and the bravest woman she’s ever known.

A single mother to her 6 year old son, Tyler, Annmarie is proactive about maintaining her own health in order to ensure she’s around for him as long as possible. She says that living a healthy lifestyle and setting positive health goals is very important to her, which is why she loves to participate in Spartan Races. She’s worked to pass those values onto her son, who has begun to compete in Spartan Kids races and set fitness goals for himself.

Annmarie also recently returned to school to finish her undergraduate education, but she always finds a way to fit in training with Team Braveheart. Her preparation for Spartan Races consists of kickboxing and MMA, road running, trail running (her personal favorite!), countless burpees, and improvised workouts on all of the local playgrounds. She includes Tyler in as many training sessions as possible, and says that it’s served as a great family bonding activity. It takes a lot of effort and creativity for her to fit everything in, but it’s been an awesome journey for the both of them.

Annmarie tries to live by her mother’s example and embrace every day with strength and courage. She isn’t afraid to take on challenges, whether they’re part of Spartan Race course or in life. She thanks Team Braveheart for the support they’ve given to both her and Tyler, and looks forward to participating in many more events in the future.

Now that’s a SUPERMOM. Share the story of your supermom with SNAP Infusion, Spartan Race and Vitamin Angels #mysupermom

 

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Spartan Death Racer Frank Fumich and ultra-runner Matt Nelson who had set out to run from Arlington, VA to Boston, MA to hand deliver funds raised for Boston victims has ended and the nearly 450 miles have been run in alternating marathons by the duo. Their feat, which was marred by high temps, heavy traffic, and some issues with navigation and added mileage. Fumich, no stranger to ultra events admitted that this event was brutal and grueling for the five days it took to complete. The run was planned after Fumich and Nelson organized a fundraiser to support the Richard family who tragically lost their son Martin and Jeff Bauman, who was injured in the two blasts at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Fumich, Hurley, and Nelson

Fumich and Nelson gained a lot of notoriety for their inspired run and their story was featured prominently in a variety of media outlets, gaining the following of friends, family and even strangers of the organizers of the run. The effort was not without mishaps including unforeseen detours and delays that forced crew members jumping in and completing some of the mileage so that the run could stay on time and on track.

The final marathon would be completed by both runners and their crew and would follow the Boston Marathon course, ending at the not infamous finish line. The group was met by Erin Hurley, girlfriend of Jeff Bauman who was injured while waiting at the finish line to meet her when he lost both legs in the bomb blasts.

The Washington Post reports, At the finish line, they were greeted by Larry Marchese, a representative of the family of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old boy killed by the blasts. Fumich and Nelson had targeted the Richard family, and then Bauman, as the beneficiaries of their runs.

“They are absolutely in awe of what you have accomplished,” Marchese told them, WCVB reported, “and especially in this weather so thank you guys so much on behalf of the Richard family.”

Fumich meeting Jeff Bauman

It was also reported that after they finished, they went to a family barbecue where they met both Bauman and Carlos Arredondo, who leapt into action after the bombings and was seen assisting Bauman in the same photo.

Once the mileage was complete, Fumich was reflective of the distance, the cause, and the outpouring of support and interest in his effort.  He was all thanks after driving back to Virginia from Boston saying, “I also want to say a sincere thank you to all my friends, acquaintances, and total strangers who reached out and sent such nice comments, posts, and messages throughout our journey!

I received dozens and dozens of them and was just TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY by the nice things people had to say and how much they were thinking about us and pulling for us…and many brought tears to my eyes!”

The duo have raised over $81,100 for the charity. Find out more about the run and the cause by clicking HERE.

Follow the Twitter Chatter #DC2BOS

(Photos courtesy of Frank Fumich.)

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