It all started with a parkrun

Basingstoke parkrun #601, 17th August 2019, Run Report by Penny Metcalf (with assistance from Andrew Little)

This is my parkrun story and how it led to a wedding that started with a parkrun

It all started when I announced that I had started running and could run one whole mile. My friend, Andy Mason, said, ‘When you can run 5k let me know and I will take you to parkrun.’ I had no idea what parkrun was, so he told me. I thought it sounded nice so a few weeks later I proudly announced that I could now run 5k. The next week it turned out I had to have an operation and couldn’t run for weeks. Eventually my body healed and I clawed my fitness back and was ready to start again. He came and picked me up and showed me the ropes. He introduced me to his parkrun friends and it felt like they adopted me, unquestioningly. I was younger and slower than all of them and not able to come very often because my children were small. I felt like the little sister of the group but they were always pleased to see me and warmly congratulated every mini PB along the way.

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A few months later some people were talking about doing a 10k race. They were standing in a group, all taller and faster than me and I pulled on my friend’s sleeve, feeling like a small child and asked quietly, ‘Can I come too? Do you think I could do that?’. He told me to increase the distance I ran slowly each week, no more than 10% each week, and that it should be fine. I did what I was told. (That doesn’t happen often).

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I entered the race and he ran the first 5k with me giving me tips about starting at the back and overtaking people rather than being near the front and getting flattened by the fast runners. At 5k he said, ‘Now just run like it’s parkrun’, and I ran the second 5k on my own. I came over the line with Andy Wyeth and my new friends were waiting for me at the finish with my then-husband and two children. I hadn’t even known that running races existed outside school sports day. The little people were delighted with their kids’ race medals and it was a very happy day.

The friends belonged to Chineham Park Running Club, so I joined up and made some more new friends. I found that I could rarely get there due to childcare so I stopped going but kept running. When Basingstoke started up its own half marathon, I trained to do that, just because it was there and a lot of people were doing it for the first time too. Mark Hodkin and Andrew Little accompanied me on my first ever attempt at 13 miles.

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Then I kept running parkrun, 10ks and half marathons. My children started running parkrun and junior parkrun and are now doing cross country races and running for the school. parkrun has undoubtedly had a very formative role in their lives and from it, running has become an important part of both their identities.

Over the years my friends at parkrun have seen me through separation and divorce and the ups and downs of new relationships and redundancies career changes and the children growing up. They have forgiven me long absences due to injury, football matches and general chaos. Friendships have developed and Malcolm Brown has become a surrogate father and grandfather to me and my children respectively. When I come to parkrun I feel nurtured by conversations with the people I know well, and small interactions with people I only ever see at parkrun. I have often been touched by the words of my fellow parkrunners, whether it was the time I fell over, or Mikey had his asthma attack, and just on general days where people stop to chat about something. I have felt surrounded and buoyed up by the community spirit and the collective kindness which is embodied by parkrun.

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Then one day some people in Hook held a meeting to see if there was enough interest for a running a club and there wasn’t enough space for the amount of people who turned up. We set up Hook Runners. We only had one coach so I did the Leadership in Running Fitness Course to help her out. Hook Runners turned into a bigger thing than anyone expected but one run was especially important to me.

On January 1st 2017 I met Alastair Bridgman on a Sunday morning run with Hook Runners. He talked a lot and said that a six mile run that week at my pace would just fit in with his training schedule. (I am not sure that that was strictly true. It has never been on the schedule since.) He came to my yoga class. It nearly killed him. He hasn’t been back. He said he thought we would be great together. I told him off for being cheeky. He asked me out. I said no. He tried again. See, very cheeky.

A few weeks later my daughter Ania, aged 9, announced that she thought I should go out with him, ‘because he is very nice, and gentle, and a bit like Mikey’ (her big brother). So I did and he was, and she was right. Ania is a footballer and she would like everyone to know that she claims the assist.

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I took him to parkrun and introduced him to my friends. They accepted him unquestioningly. They have adopted him and he has adopted parkrun into that training schedule, and as part of our life together.

Today we are getting married and we are starting the day with a parkrun because running has played such a vital part in our lives and in bringing us together.

Basingstoke Park Run 601

This is a thank you to parkrun and to everyone who I have met there over the past few years. Thank you to everyone who volunteers, including the 45 who made today’s run possible (including coping with finding a cricket match happening in the usual starting area when they arrived in the park!), and everyone who says hello and who encourages the people running past them or cheers people at the finish or does any small thing that contributes to the wonderful world of parkrun.

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Apart from starting our wedding day, what else happened today at Basingstoke parkrun?

There were 627 runners, the largest field since early May and the seventh largest we've ever had. There were 62 PBs, 30 running their first ever parkrun and 30 first time visitors to Basingstoke – well done to all concerned.

Today’s first three male finishers were: Tom Harding in 17:24, Cameron Coveney in 18:06 and Matthew Wray in 18:36; and the first three female finsihers were: Lisa Gottwald in 20:59, Alison James in 21:37 and Becky Wilson in 22:24.

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Milestones achieved:
Official (T-shirt earning) milestones:
50 : Ian Keeley
100 : James Bate, Isabel Gardner, and Gail Tyson

Unofficial (non T-shirt earning but still worth celebrating) milestones
150 : Sally Blanc
200 : David Matthews and Damon Hope

Congratulations to all of you.

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Despite the forecasts earlier in the week, the weather behaved itself with the sun shining complemented by a lovely breeze to add to the occasion and made it a perfect start to a perfect day.

See you all next week.


Event number 600 at Basingstoke parkrun

Basingstoke parkrun #600, 10th August 2019, Run Report by Mark NORRIS

Basingstoke parkrun #600 10th August 2019

It might have been a dull, grey and windy morning in the War Memorial Park on Saturday but that did not dampen our spirits as we celebrated the 600th parkrun to take place at Basingstoke.

A HUGE thank you to the 39 amazing volunteers lead by our Run Director Frankie WELLINGS for standing out in the blustery wind filling 47 different volunteer roles making it possible for 521 runners to get their parkrun fix.
This is very different to event number 1 when 6 volunteers were lead by Run Director Euan BOWMAN filling 10 different volunteer roles making it possible for 37 runners to do the first Basingstoke parkrun.

Well done to the 66 parkrunners who got a PB at event number 600.

26 parkrunners completed their first ever parkrun with us and we were joined by 18 parkrun tourists who were with us for the first time.

We had visitors from Bognor, Cardiff, Havant, Reading, Rushmoor and Winchester.
We hope they enjoyed it and will be back again soon.

33 parkrunners did not have their barcodes scanned so please don't forget your printed barcode next time.

Representatives from 33 different clubs took part.

Basingstoke parkrun #600 10th August 2019

Congratulations to these parkrunners on achieving their parkrun milestones:

25 times volunteered:


50 parkruns:


100 parkruns:

  • Yvette DOLLIN
  • Keisha SMITH

While not official parkrun milestones these are still worth celebrating:

150 parkruns:

  • Dan FULLER
  • Ken STEEL
  • Madeleine CHARBINE

200 parkruns:

  • Sarah LILES

350 parkruns:

  • Ian J STOKES

Basingstoke parkrun #600 10th August 2019

Results highlights

Male placings:
1st goes to Tom HARDING (SM25-29) (Unattached) with a time of 17:42.
2nd goes to Dave RAWLINS (SM30-34) of Hatch Warren Runners with a time of 18:12.
3rd goes to Chris FURNESS (VM45-49) of Hatch Warren Runners with a time of 18:24.

Female placings:
1st goes to Kate TOWERTON (VW35-39) of Winchester and District AC with a time of 20:36.
2nd goes to Lisa GOTTWALD (VW40-44) of Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC with a time of 20:59.
3rd goes to Alison JAMES (VW50-54) (Unattached) with a time of 21:27.

The three highest age grades were recorded by:
Tony WATKINS (VM55-59) - 81.52% for the time of 18:51.
Mark SLANEY (VM55-59) - 79.36% for the time of 19:52.
Alison JAMES (VW50-54) - 79.1% for the time of 21:27.

Basingstoke parkrun #600 10th August 2019

Just for fun here are some facts and figures from our parkrun for the last 600 events...

Between 5th Jul 2008 (Event 1) and 10th Aug 2019 (Event 600)

1,201 different volunteers helped out.

Volunteers performed 18,038 different roles.

154 people volunteered 25 times or more.

75 really cool people volunteered and have not run at all themselves.

176,416 runners were cheered.

167,553 barcodes were scanned.

8,863 runners did not have their barcodes scanned.

882,080 km of running was made possible.

15,068 first timers were welcomed.

An amazing 26,306 PBs were achieved.

632 different clubs were represented.

and finally...

Our next parkrun will be on Saturday morning at 9am in the War Memorial Park so we hope to see you there. #DFYB

Basingstoke parkrun #600 10th August 2019


So many runners – so many kilometres!

Basingstoke parkrun #599, 3rd August 2019, Run Report by Alastair Bridgman

Although we are in the middle of the summer holiday season 573 people took part for a 5km run, walk and social get together around War Memorial Park.

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We had 33 people completing their very first parkrun – we hope you enjoyed your first experience and you will come back soon. We also had 34 first time visiting park runners; these included visitors from Wycombe, St Albans, Leeds, and Valencia! We hope you all enjoyed your visit to us and we would love to welcome you back soon. An amazing total 87 pb’s were achieved, so well done if that included you.

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Whilst staying on the statistics this week we hit the 15,000 separate individual park runners. Not bad for a run that has been going just over 10 years!

Also, on looking further through the statistics I noticed that the total km’s covered by Basingstoke parkrunners is a fraction under 880,000 km. With the numbers we are getting (average attendance of 520-530 each week) it’s my guess that by this time next year we will have hit the 1,000,000 km run. Will you be the one to complete it?

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It was the start of the Ashes this week and in true parkrun style this was celebrated by Ian Nelson and Andy Wyeth wearing their corked hats around the course. Hope they both said "g'day" to you if they met you during the day.

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One conversation I got into this week was the importance of pacing different runs at different paces. Please don’t be tempted to label yourself as this pace or that pace. If you are running longer distances then it’s natural for you to be a few mins slower than your all-out parkrun pace. If you are running some distance to parkrun then please remember this and don’t get concerned that your parkrun is slower than your last race and push yourself too hard. This is a classic way to injure yourself. Running different paces will benefit your training in different ways and ultimately make you faster in the medium and long term, as well as making you more resilient and stronger.

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Three parkrunners completed their 50th parkruns this week – well done to Christine Marsh, Clare Sadler and Dan Hatton. Kudos too to Sam Purnell who volunteered at his 25th event.

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Please remember that it takes around 40 people to volunteer for each parkrun so of you haven’t volunteered before please join the team – check the upcoming rota weeks at for what is needed and email with your choice. Remember without the volunteers there would be no parkrun. And volunteering can give you a chance to get to know your fellow parkrunners better.

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Remembering to appreciate the power of parkrun

Basingstoke parkrun #598, 27th July 2019, Run Report by James Bate

Today was the 598th time runners, joggers and walkers have assembled in a Basingstoke park for a free, weekly, timed 5k together. Five hundred and ninety eight!


But you see it wasn't just a normal run. It wasn't the same as the previous 597. The 574 Saturdays, 5 Sundays, 3 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays, 2 Wednesdays, 3 Thursdays and 5 Fridays we've run together. It was unique.

Routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by. And if you're anything like me you'll have remarked at least more than once how fast our lives are progressing and how quickly each new year passes. When you're a child everything is new, everything is exciting. The summer holidays last a lifetime. But as we grow older our lives soon slip into a routine. The same commute, the same work days, the same evening meals. The same same.

With this in mind pause for thought and appreciate today's run. What do you remember from it? That conversation with your parkrun friends before the start? The dash from the line? Trying to avoid a puddle near the woods? Finishing the first lap? The well wishes from all the volunteers? Or the exhaltation of the finish? Whatever it was, hold onto that memory as it is these nuances that make each (parkrun) day different and is the reason why so many of us keep returning every week.


Perhaps do something different next time to break the routine and make it even more memorable. 4 people did just that and volunteered for the first time today.

22 people also did that today by taking part in their first ever parkrun. We hope you all enjoyed it and look forward to welcoming you again. If parkrun becomes part of your Saturday morning routine, remember the hard days, remember the wet days, remember the PBs, remember to remember. To slow down and appreciate each run for what it is.


We also had 10 visitors to Basingstoke this morning. If you haven't done much parkrun "tourism" I would highly recommend giving it a go. Although we all love our home parkrun, it's interesting to see different events. To see the subtleties and idiosyncrasies that make each event unique. James COLLIER did just that by visiting Basingstoke for the first time on his 225th run. Although this was James's 33rd different event, we hope you enjoyed Basingstoke and will come back again soon. I've been to 17 parkruns myself, and can remember each and every one. And they've each made that Saturday morning a bit different!


Back to Basingstoke and a much cooler, albeit damper, morning must have been a welcome respite to the runners after the stifling July week we've just had. Led by Run Director Mark and timed by Jonathan and Toby, 499 people enjoyed a walk, jog or run around War Memorial Park today.


53 runners have an extra reason to be cheerful and marked their morning with a shiny new PB. Although perhaps it was the damp conditions that hampered most of the experienced Basingstoke runners today - no-one with over 30 runs in Basingstoke achieved one. It was Akiba ARCHIBONG who, on his 28th run, clocked a two minute personal best! Fantastic work Akiba and congratulations on smashing the 30-minute barrier.


Leading home the ladies today was:

Kate TOWERTON 20:06
Lisa GOTTWALD 21:19
Alison JAMES 21:24


The men were led in by:

Tom HARDING 17:58
Andy GODDARD 18:10
Connor WREY 18:17

parkrun is many things to many people, but I'm sure Tom won't mind me saying he usually tries to push himself and his times ever faster. In fact this was Tom's 32nd first finish in his last 54 Basingstoke parkruns!


The top 3 junior boys this week were:

Nicholas MITCHELL 20:28 JM15-17
James MASLIN 22:56 JM15-17
Oliver BUTLER 24:05 JM11-14

Whilst top for the junior girls were:

Charlotte VICKERS 24:36 JW11-14
Lily WEINECK 25:33 JW15-17
Bethan MASON 26:32 JW11-14


The top 3 age grade times this week were:

Tony WATKINS 83.51% 18:24 VM55-59
Mark SLANEY 80.99% 19:28 VM55-59
Sian JAMES 79.63% 25:51 VW65-69

Meanwhile 20 people (4% of finishers) didn't scan a barcode resulting in a "unknown".


The only official milestone runs today were juniors registering their 10th run. Congratulations to Sebastian GROSS, Charlotte VICKERS and Kalel ARCHIBONG. Special mention must also go to Darren PRATT and Terry CLARKE for achieving an unofficial milestone of 150 runs and Rob LUCAS who doubled them today by running his 300th!

I was a bit apprehensive about writing a run report... after all, I wouldn't call myself a writer. But then, like with running, you're not going to improve by talking about why you can't do it! You just need to give it a go. The same is true of all our volunteer roles. 327 people have already volunteered this year. parkrun literally could not take place without you. Thank you!


This is now my 6th different role and each time there have been friendly help and words of advice and the outcome has been far less daunting and far more rewarding than I would have anticipated. If you'd like to volunteer please email or check out the upcoming roster.


As a runner I really am grateful for all the volunteers. I always try and thank the marshals - either with a cheery "Thank you, marshal" or a weary thumbs up! This week our event was made possible by 46 hi-vis heroes:

Darren ROLFE, Chris FURNESS, Victor LIU, Peter ADAMS, Caroline PARTNER, Pam LOVE, Avi GOVIND, Sam PURNELL, Peter CHIVERTON, Alison JAMES, Tommy MILLAR, Lorraine MILFORD, Matt PILLINGER, Toby LAMPARD, Brian WORTH, Darren PRATT, Frankie WELLINGS, Lorna MARTIN, Hannah ERSKINE, Wendy HEWETT, Ryan PARTNER, Mark NORRIS, David PICTON, Jane EWING, Nicola DALE, Jodie GIBSON, Mike STANFORD, Mike HEDDERLY, Netta HOWARD, Denise HOPE, Tammy WILLIS, Andy STENT, Hannah THOMSON, Roy PACKER, Sam KERR, Lydia VICKERS, Craig GILBERT, James BATE, Hossam ASHRAF, Catherine GERLACH, Peter RAILTON, Mike ATHROLL, Sarah GAMBRILL, Jonathon WHITE, Michael PARKER and Ben BENTON.



Hi 5′s all round

Basingstoke parkrun #597, 20th July 2019, Run Report by Cami Cameron

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It’s been a while since I’ve written the run report, yet it is quite fun to be doing it on a day when I was Run Director and celebrating with a friend on her milestone run.

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Caption competition - entries on the Basingstoke parkrun Facebook page!

Saturday morning was threatening rain, we had certainly had a downpour over night, yet the parkrun angels were looking out for us and the rain held off; well, until close down!

Hiding in a tent

571 people turned out, sadly that’s 27 people less than I guessed in Friday's "guess the Saturday attendance" competition on the Basingstoke parkrun Facebook page...

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Though Hi5s to Charles Sadler who got closer than me with his guess of 575.

Out of those 571 parkrunners, 27 were first timers and 20 more were new to Basingstoke, with visitors from Abingdon, Dundee and Germany. I hope whether it was your first time or you with us for a visit you will return soon. Amazingly 49 people took home a new PB despite the humid and damp conditions.

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Tom Stagles was also celebrating at Basingstoke yesterday - it was his 10th year anniversary since starting parkrunning. Although no longer a regular at Basingstoke, he returned for the celebration.

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A number of the first timers were graduates of the Hook Runners couch to 5km programme. One little girl from Hook runners doing her first parkrun was loving the Hi-5’s and support from the volunteers. Hook Runners were also out in support of Dianne Cole who was completing her 50th parkrun.

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There were some other milestones and celebrations today. Amanda Oxlade of Basingstoke and Mid Hants Athletics Club completed her 100th parkrun as did Patricia ‘Super Gran’ Langley of Hi5 Runners Rooksdown, and Stephen Allford of Bramley Trail Runners. Well done also to Mark Perryman for completing his 250th run today. An unofficial milestone was reached by Michelle Matson who was completing her 350th parkrun. More from Patricia and Amanda later.

As mentioned in my run briefing,

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a huge thank you to our incredible volunteers, honestly they make me look good, and that’s going some! Thanks to those people who set up and inspected the course, the marshals who were out cheering everyone on,

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to those handing out tokens

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taking times,

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scanning barcodes,

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checking times and finishing positions,

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and the numerous other roles not mentioned that mean that each week so many of us can enjoy our free timed run around the park.

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Please do check out the volunteer roster; there are roles for all, roles where you can still run, roles for injured runners, roles for non running partners of runners, roles for runners who come each week and enjoy the run and are giving back to allow others the same opportunity... So I’m thankful and grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen: Peter Adams, Mike Athroll, Ben Benton, Tamzin Blagbrough, Cami Cameron, Oliver Cameron, Hannah Erskine, Lisa Fixter, Mark Formby, Chris Furness, Mark Goddard, Andy Goddard, Avi Govind, Tessa Habberley, Iain Habberley, Sandor Hagymasi, Lisa Hedderly, George Hedderly, Jack Hedderly, Mike Hedderly, Geoff Herron, Mike Hickey, Grant Hodgson, Denise Hope, Victor Liu, Jane Lowe, Lorna Martin, Tommy Miller, Cobie Milsom, Mark Norris, Michael Parker, Caroline Partner, Ryan Partner, Alison Poole, Sam Purnell, Duncan Rounding, Neil Shoesmiths, Jackie Simpson, Tom Stagles, Mike Stanford, Carol Wadeson, Em Ward, Frankie Wellings and Brian Worth.

I spoke with two of our milestone runners Patricia Langley and Amanda Oxlade after the run, here’s what they said about running and parkrun;-

When did you start running?
Pat - Three years ago
Amanda - I started ‘walking’ Christmas Day 2015

Why did you start parkrunning?
Pat - A good friend of mine died. I wanted to raise money for St Michael's Hospice who helped care for him in his final days. I thought running was the least likely thing for me to do so I should get lots of sponsorship from people who couldn't wait to see me fall flat on my face. I proved them wrong. Did the NHS Couch to 5k then found parkrun. Ended up doing the Hospice 10k and raising over £400
Amanda - I had/have a lot of health issues. I have also battled with my weight my entire life. I had seen Fitbits advertised on TV and decided to try them....oh boy was it an eye opener!. I tried walking once a week but because of one of my health problems the pain was really bad so i thought 'i wonder if running would be less painful?!'....and it was!

How did you hear about parkrun?
Pat - I saw a news item in the Basingstoke Gazette.
Amanda - I heard about it from an old school friend (Mark Norris) who kept trying to encourage me to come. Laziness and a lack of confidence held me back until October 2016

What attracted you to parkrun?
Pat - The relaxed and supportive culture. The fact you didn't need to be a 'proper runner'.
Amanda - I love the fact it is FREE, timed and the support you get from EVERYONE. Also the help and advice I have had along the way and the countless friends/ acquaintances I have made. parkrun is just like one big Family.

Do you run outside of parkrun?
Pat - You bet! I am now a member of Hi-5 Rooksdown running group which has a similar ethos to parkrun. It is free, run by volunteers and all about fitness and being the best you can be. It's not a serious running club but so supportive with hints and bits of advice if you want them. They've got me doing half marathons. Usually back 3, frequently last,

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- but half marathons just the same.

Amanda - Yes i run with Basingstoke & Mid Hants Athletics Club once a week, with a friend who i have been 'coaching' for nearly two years now who suffers with her mental health and more recently another friend trying to help her on a C25K. She is just starting where i did 3 years ago!

What tips or advice would you give someone starting out at parkrun/ running in general?

Pat - Just get out there and give it a go. Don't worry about what anybody else thinks. Particularly at parkrun, everyone is welcome and you will NEVER be last.
Amanda - 1 day at a time.....1 run or race at a time. Dont beat yourself up at getting a rubbish time, you're still lapping everyone else sitting on the sofa!...and most importantly enjoy it!

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