Reebok TR Wild Review

Reebok TR Wild
2.5 / 5 Overall
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Features
Durability
Grip
Water Draining
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The Reebok TR Wild is a shoe that doesn’t get mentioned much in the obstacle course racing world but should be. What the TR Wild brings is a budget friendly, entry level, OCR shoe. The TR wild would be normally be more at home on a slightly muddy trail because of how it is designed. But if you aren’t sure how many races you want to run or if you aren’t sure OCR is for you, this is a great shoe to start with.

Reebok TR Wild Features

As far as features go this shoe falls right into the basic category. It has some family aggressive lugs that come in at 1/4″ and have a nicely shaped tread that doesn’t hold too much dirt. But these are definitely trail shoes because of how the tread is laid out. I took them on the road for 5 miles on my way back from a trail run and I took some serious grip off the mid-foot where I normally land on my feet. I imagine if you put 30 road miles on these shoes you would be retiring them.

reebok-tr-wild-review-1

While we are talking about the sole of the shoes it is worth mentioning the interesting mid-foot grip/support. These shoes aren’t marketed at obstacle racers, and obstacle racing isn’t mentioned in the description, but it looks similar to the Reebok All-Terrain Super’s mid-foot rope climbing grip. I would even say they went more aggressive with this mid-foot grip section. But this is also a problem because I could feel the top edge of it on my arch when running on uneven trail terrain.

reebok-tr-wild-review-2

The final feature that’s worth noting is the mid-foot “cage and rubber wrap” as Reebok calls it. This also feels like a similarity to another feature Reebok All-Terrain Super’s. I can’t say it does much for me on either shoe but possibly if you tighten down more than I do on the laces it might feel like a bit of mid-foot/arch support. Unfortunately I find it slightly uncomfortable on both shoes. It just doesn’t move as flexibly as the rest of the fabric on the shoes do because it is reinforced with rubber.

reebok-tr-wild-review-3

 

Reebok TR Wild Usage

My first usage for the TR Wild was running at Bear Mountain in NY on a trail with 1000 feet of elevation gain in the first 2 miles. I really started to feel the shoes out on the ascent and noticed some interesting things. They have a wider toe box than most shoes but this is joined by the fact that all the upper material has a lot of give to it. On the downhills they just kept feeling loose no matter how many times I would stop to tighten them. I couldn’t find a good balance between not choking my feet and the tightness of the shoe because of how much give there was. This is also mainly a problem if you attack the downhills aggressively where you feet are constantly slamming around the shoes. The grip seemed up to the task as it was mostly loose dirt and rocks.

Another notable run was on a wet trail with an even more aggressive ascent and descent. I found the grip just didn’t do the trick when running on wet stones and wood. Most shoes without metal studs struggle in these areas but I felt like the TR Wilds were really lacking. When I had to go down some wet rock faces I ended up just going down on all fours for safety. It’s hard to say if it is the make up of the rubber or the shape of the tread but it fell short where higher end trail shoes would normally give you a little grip.

The water drained about average for a trail shoe but very short of the Reebok All Terrain Super. I would compare them more to a thin road shoe for how they held the water. Still better off than with the Salomon Speedcross.

Reebok TR Wild Durability

These shoes will rip if you run them on jagged rock filled aggressive trails. The upper is very soft and ventilated which is great for simple trails but not so much on rough trails. The sole as I mentioned earlier will also get eaten up on roads, stick to the trails with these as much as you can.

Reebok TR Wild Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very affordable at $50
  • Aggressive tread pattern
  • Lightweight
  • Wide toe box when compared to other trail shoes

Cons

  • Not very durable
  • Slight discomfort in arch area
  • Material stretched too much while running

Competition

Reebok TR WildReebok All Terrain SuperSalomon Speedcross 3Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Weight280g229 g310g280 g
Heel Drop8mm5mm9mm6mm
Grip1/4"3/16"3/16"1/4"
Metal StudsNoNoNoNo
Price$50.00$75.00$80.00$120.00
ORM ReviewYesYesYesYes
BuyAmazon AmazonAmazonAmazon

Reebok TR Wild Verdict

As I started the review with, the Reebok TR Wild is a good affordable shoe for people getting started into trails and OCR. I would suggest that if you plan on doing more than 1-2 races per year with, several training runs thrown in, that you check out our review for the Reebok All Terrain Super. But if budget is a top priority than look no further than the Reebok TR Wild.

 



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Dario

Dario is a long time distance runner and OCR athlete. When not on the roads and trails logging miles he can be found drinking coffee while reading bad science fiction books.
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Marc Pro Review

Marc Pro
3.5 / 5 Overall
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Features
Durability
Cost
Summary

There are dozens of electrical muscle stimulators on the market, many of which make some pretty outlandish claims. Can you really get stronger just by hooking yourself up to a machine?

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I looked at the research behind EMS (electronic muscle stimulator) devices to find out how much a performance-driven athlete could really benefit from electrical stimulation, and I appreciated how Marc Pro focuses on where EMS really has the most potential: recovery. Plus, with some of my favorite OCR athletes personally using Marc Pro, I had to give it a try myself.

Marc Pro Technology

The idea behind EMS is to stimulate nerves and muscles by passing current through. However, different frequencies and amplitudes will have very different effects on the body, and not necessarily positive ones. Because different devices are tuned to different parameters, each will work differently. Unfortunately this means there’s a lot of variability among products, so while there are tons of research studies on EMS out there, there are very few studies on each specific use. In fact, only a dozen human studies have been done to investigate whether EMS enhances recovery, and the results weren’t entirely convincing [1]. That said, I looked at some other studies done with the Marc Pro unit specifically that show that it is effective at reducing muscle soreness and recovery time [2][3], and promoting angiogenesis / increased blood flow [4]. While these were all small sample studies done by the same guy, there was enough there for me to want to run a Marc Pro through a field test. Obviously, reducing down time between training sessions and increasing maximal blood flow would be great for any type of athlete [5].

Marc Pro Unboxing

The packaging on the Marc Pro is great, and it’s really easy to get started. It comes in a carrying case with partitions for the unit itself, the wires/electrodes, and the charger. The case itself is compact and protects the unit pretty well, so it’s perfect for travelling with right out of the box. The unit came fully charged, so I started hooking up electrodes as soon as I opened it. There are two channels, with two electrodes each, so you can stimulate both sides of the body at once or just go double-time on a single area or muscle chain. Each channel operates at a fixed frequency (about 2Hz) but adjustable intensity. For some reason, intensity is on a scale of 0 to 9. Most other people I hooked up to it were hesitant to go above 5 or 6, but I would have loved a 10 on some of my larger muscle groups. Lower intensities were fine for smaller muscles on the arms and shoulders.  I’m not really sure what determines an individual’s tolerance to electrical stimulation, but it definitely varies. Here is what it looks like in action on my quad:

Marc Pro Usage

I tested out the Marc Pro on pretty much every muscle group I could think of, but there are some limitations on where you can use it. For obvious reasons, don’t use it around your head, neck, or heart; this means your chest muscles are going to have to recover the old fashioned way. As an endurance athlete, I mainly used it on my lower body, but I have heard more than one person say they used it to treat their bicep tendonitis with good results (disclaimer: I’m not a doctor). At first, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to figure out where to place the electrodes, but it was really simple. Generally, start by placing an electrode at each end of the muscle you’re trying to stimulate, and then adjust the electrode placement until you maximize the muscle’s contraction. The Marc Pro comes with a booklet with some suggestions on electrode placement that I found helpful. My personal favorite was one electrode on the bottom of the foot, another at the top of my calf. I loved the unit on my calves, hamstrings, and quads, but I never could find a configuration that really got my glutes firing. As far as upper body usage goes, my experience is limited. To be honest, I don’t push my upper body to the limit very often, and don’t need it to recovery any better than it already does. I tested out some upper body configurations for fun, and found lower intensities (3 to 5) were sufficient for stimulating the arms, shoulders, and upper back, but I didn’t find the sensations to be as enjoyable as on the legs. In certain configurations, the electrodes can cause some painful stings, but a slight placement adjustment will resolve any issues. The only minor issues I really had was that the electrodes pull out my leg hair, and my skin is sensitive to the adhesive.

To really see how well the Marc Pro worked for recovery, I pushed myself a little harder than usual during the two week training block that I had the unit. It’s so hard to definitively say whether something helped or not, especially when it comes to recovery aid, but I do believe the Marc Pro helped me sustain an increased training load for two weeks. I used the unit for about 90 minutes per day, after training, for 14 consecutive days. Weeks later, after a workout that was a bit too hard, I really wish I still had the Marc Pro to help me get ready for another full week of training. It may be placebo, but based on the studies cited above and the almost exclusively positive feedback from fellow athletes, I think there’s actually something to it. Here’s what top OCR athlete, Hunter McIntyre, had to say about his experience with Marc Pro:

marc-pro-review-Hunter-McIntyre“The Marc pro has been a key tool in my training for almost a year now. The body of an athlete is constantly taxed by the training that we put ourselves through to improve for future sport. The truth is that training is only part of the cocktail – it’s more recovery, more importantly, that will allow you to grow and excel the next time you test yourself. The Marc pro is a huge part of getting me ready for whatever I face next.”

For a kind of tutorial on how to use Marc Pro to help recovery after a run, check out this video from Bryan MacKenzie. He makes it seem pretty complicated, but it’s a starting point if you have no idea what to do.

Marc Pro Competition

While it’s definitely an expensive piece of equipment ($650) for a weekend warrior, a top athlete looking for an extra advantage should consider adding Marc Pro to their regimen. There are competing products on the market, like Compex and Tens units, but the Marc Pro is the only one designed for recovery only. The Tens unit focuses on treating nerve pain, and Compex has a bunch of different pre-set programs for a variety of purposes. I haven’t researched or tested a Compex unit, so I’m not sure if it works well for recovery like the Marc Pro, but I don’t think using EMS programs to build strength or endurance is the most productive use of an athlete’s time. I like how Marc Pro focuses their research and attention on enhancing recovery. In addition to the regular Marc Pro unit, the also make the Marc Pro Plus which includes a higher frequency pain-relief mode. I only got to test a regular unit, but if that sounds appealing, you can get that feature too for an extra $300.

Pros:

  • “Active” recovery without fatiguing muscles
  • Increased blood flow, possible angiogenesis
  • Portability, convenience, and battery life

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Benefit relative to other modes of recovery is debatable
  • Fixed frequency
  • Electrodes need occasional replacement (and can pull out leg hair!)

Marc Pro Verdict

After using the Marc Pro daily for 2 weeks, I feel like it helped me adapt to a higher training load by reducing the amount of time I needed to recover between workouts. I even used it to compete in two back to back races over a weekend and felt better than I ever have before when double racing. But was it superior to other recovery techniques like dynamic stretching, massage, rolling, etc? Maybe adding an hour of yoga to my daily routine could have similar effects at a fraction of the cost. Personally, I feel like one of the biggest advantages of the Marc Pro is improving recovery without further accumulating fatigue; you can just hook up the electrodes and relax while doing other things like working on the computer, something you wouldn’t be able to do while employing other recovery techniques. I guess you could say it’s passive recovery that works like active recovery. So, while there a tons of ways to help you recover, hooking up to a Marc Pro while you sit on the couch beats just sitting on the couch, and can easily be incorporated into any routine. And while it may be expensive, it’s a one time cost unlike the recurring costs of PT appointments and massage.

My recommendation: if you’re already maximizing your recovery ability in other ways and feel like there’s not much more you can do, the Marc Pro could give you an extra edge. But if you’re not even eating right and hydrating after your workouts, doing recovery workouts between harder ones, training purposefully instead of always going “beast mode” with random fitness challenges, etc., put your time and energy into the basics first.

As a Special Offer to ORM readers – Use Discount Code ORM1 to Save 5% off at the Marc Pro Store

 

Sources
 
 [1] http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Citation/2014/09000/Neuromuscular_Electrical_Stimulation_During.12.aspx
 
 [2] https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/JEPonlineAPRIL2013_Blum.pdf
 
 [3] https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/JEPonlineApril2011KennethBlum.pdf
 
 [4] https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/JEPonlineOctober2011Blum.pdf
 
 [5] http://jap.physiology.org/content/97/3/1119

 


Fitbit Surge Review

Fitbit Surge
4 / 5 Overall
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Features
Durability
Battery Life
GPS Accuracy
Summary

A feature rich watch for a niche audience. If you are in the market for a watch to track your daily activities like steps, heart rate, and sleep than look no further.

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fitbit-surge-review-2

The Fitbit Surge is the currently the most cutting edge watch for the exercise enthusiast. I say “exercise enthusiast” not to be insulting but to say that this watch has all the features most athletes would want. But it does fall short when compared to a watch like the Garmin Fenix 3 that Alec Blenis recently reviewed here. That’s not the worst thing either, this watch isn’t trying to be the Garmin Fenix 3 or any other similar watch, it is in its own space and doing amazing there.

My initial excitement for this watch was for the possibility of having the ultimate quantified self measurements as well as taking care of my usual GPS and heart rate monitoring usage for running. The space for quantified self and smart watches is starting to become more crowded with great options and the soon to come apple watch.

Similar Products

Fitbit SurgeMicrosoft BandBasis PeakApple Watch - Sport Edition
Battery Life7 days without GPS, 5 hours with GPS2 days without GPS usage4 days18 hours
GPSYesYesNoNo
Heart Rate MonitorYes, opticalOpticalOpticalYes, optical
Waterproof 50 Meters (no swimming)Splash Resistant5 metersSplash Resistant
Weight1.8 oz2.12 ozN/A1.41 oz
Phone CompatibilityAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOSiOS
Price$249.99$199.99 - $249.99$199.99$549.99
ORM ReviewYesNoNoBeing Tested
Buy Amazon Amazon Amazon Apple Store

Fitbit Surge Review – Features

The main feature of this watch is the optical heart rate monitor. What this means is that you get heart rate monitor, without a chest strap, through a sensor on the back of the watch. While this technology is cool it is not as reliable as a traditional chest strap. For day to day usage when not working out I would say it accurately tracked about 85% of the time. When exercising at a fairly high capacity it would track about %50-%60 of the time. I have used 3 other watches with this same technology and so far this watch performs the best. It out performed the Basis Peak and the TomTom Runner Cardio by far, these both barely functioned when working out. So in comparison it is great but optical heart rate monitoring still has some ways to go before it’s as reliable as a chest strap.

Another impressive feature is the battery life that lasts for 7 days while constantly tracking your heart rate and steps. This means that it is literally tracking you 24/7 while walking around and sleeping. All it requires is a few hours a week to fully charge or you can just charge it while you shower like I did. When used with GPS it only lasts 5 hours on a full charge.

Unfortunately one area where it falls short is in waterproofing which pretty much rules it out for OCR usage unless you are doing a stadium/urban race. They say it is rated at 5 ATM which in theory means up to 50 meters but then they turn around and say not to use it for swimming. I have ended up going for many runs where I am sweating heavily and it was raining out with no issues at all.

The running and GPS combination is another area where I was not impressed with for high performance tracking. GPS acquires just as fast as any watch but the screens related to running with the GPS on are not intuitive and at the moment they can’t be customized the way I would like. When you use this after using a Garmin with GPS for running you noticed a clear difference in what a real GPS running watch should feel like. One of the main custom screens I use on the Garmin 620 is a lap based screen where it shows my current lap pace, lap distance (mile intervals), and lap time. There are no lap based options on this watch.

Fitbit Surge Review – Durability

The Fitbit Surges durability for every day use it just fine. For obstacle course racing I would say never ever use it. The brushed steel of the main body will scuff easily and leave it looking marred. The texture of the strap band is one that when it gets mud on it and dries will require a significant amount of scrubbing to make it look clean and new again. And finally the screen is completely exposed with no bezel and has exposed some what rigid edges. I gave it a 2 for durability because for many people they might want to just use it for normal exercise which was what I did.

Fitbit Surge Review – Usage

As I stated before, the main usage in my mind for this watch was in a manner similar to quantified self. In this aspect it succeeded and had some really cool charts that you could see online after syncing by bluetooth to your phone/computer or through USB. It would automatically detect things like when you went up stairs compared to normal steps and when you went to sleep without you having to press anything. I think the auto sleep detection was very impressive because it would even recognize a short nap during the day.

fitbit-surge-review-sleep-tracking

For someone that is casually running or biking this will meet your needs for exercise. It will definitely track the distance you move, how long you have done it, and for the most part your heart rate. When I used it for easy to medium effort runs it was very accurate with my heart rate and only cut out optical heart rate monitoring once or twice for short periods. When running hard at near  max capacity and dripping in sweat it would cut out every so often until I shifted the watch a little. I would adjust the position but it could take a bit of time to come back with HRM which is something I didn’t enjoy focusing on while I was just trying to crack out a hard run.

When I used it on a stationary bike it was the most reliable for heart rate tracking. I think this is due to two factors that are unique to indoor biking – no bright sunlight and relatively stationary arms. You can see from this comparison chart that it was right in line with the Garmin 620 and heart strap combination.

 

In the looks department the Fitbit Surge while feeling and looking slim to the user looks a bit large to the outside world because of its design. You see it tapers from a large size to a thin size closest to you which is very visually pleasing to the user but large looking to the outside world. The strap is also incredibly soft and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time which is a huge plus since you are generally meant to wear this watch 24/7 and only rarely take it for for charging.

fitbit-surge-review

Another interesting thing about the watch is its general interface. For the most part you will only swipe the touch sensitive screen for most of your time using it. The buttons are only used to navigate menus and change modes such as changing to the GPS run mode from the usual daily monitoring. It is pretty intuitive and I never needed the manual when setting up the watch or using it.

Where the lack of screens I mentioned when running is redeemed a little is after the fact when you upload your data. The online dashboard and phone app have some really great ways to analyze your data. Look at all the data I get for one day of running errands walking around a little:

fitbit-surge-review-dashboard-2

And here is what running looks like when seen on the dashboard (those pace drops are traffic lights):

fitbit-surge-review-dashboard-3

Fitbit Surge Review – Verdict

The Fitbit Surge is a watch that I wanted to love and be my only watch for all of my exercise and life tracking needs. Regrettably while it excels in tracking, it falls short in the exercise area. It is also is not OCR friendly which is a major downside for many of you. What a good solution that I might suggest if your budget is wide open for fitness gear – get this watch for daily tracking and a Garmin or Suunto for your OCR and workout needs. Or if you are lucky enough to already have a sports style GPS watch, just get this to track your daily life if that is something you are interested in like I am. If you own one make sure to leave a mini review below!

Fitbit Surge Pros

  • 7 day optical heart rate, step,  and sleep tracking on one charge
  • Automatic Sleep tracking
  • GPS for the occasional run
  • Nice Dashboard to view data
  • Easy bluetooth syncing

Fitbit Surge Cons

  • Short GPS battery life compared to Fenix 3
  • Limited Running Activity Screens
  • Not as Durable as I would like

 

 

The Roomel Changing Towel Review

Roomel Changing Towel
4 / 5 Overall
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 Users (0 votes)
Features
Comfort
Drying
Size
Summary

The Roomel is a portable changing room for people that need the get changed when wet or away from a convenient closed off area. Besides working as a changing room it is also made of a soft towel material to dry you while changing.

 

A few weeks ago I was asked to try out a new product from 3i Products, the Roomel. When I read the product description, I was instantly intrigued by the idea of a “changing towel plus bag all in one perfect product”. If you tell me that I don’t have to make my way blindly through a dark, congested, naked body fest also known as a changing tent… count me in!

I had the opportunity to use the Roomel over the weekend at the Ultimate Challenge Mud Run in Columbia, SC. After the race, I was covered in Carolina mud (which is dark and thick and made me look like swamp thing) so I decided to rinse off in the showers to get “clean”. Once I had my spa treatment off of my body I decided to pull out my Roomel and change in front of my fellow racers.

Roomel-review

I absolutely loved the color and design of the built in carrying bag. The navy bag with pink trim caught my attention as something stylish and feminine all in one. The bag is made of water-resistant material which allows you to store accessories and extra clothes without getting them damp.

Roomel Main Features

1. Zipper thumb tabs for easy grip.
2. A multi-purpose bag strap which helps with carrying the Roomel, or hanging it up to dry.
3. The water-resistant outer shell keeps your valuables dry.
4. The outer pocket provides a safe water-resistant space for items such as keys, wallets, and cell phones.

Roomel-review

Another cool feature of the Roomel is the fact the towel is built into the bag and all unfolds as one piece. I was also pleasantly surprised that my towel was a different color than my bag. The towel portion was a grey with pink trim, another classy touch to make you feel girly when dirty.

Roomel Additional Features

1. A zippered storage compartment to keep your change of clothes or other belongings.
2. A fully adjustable cinch which allows you to secure the towel to your waist so you don’t flash your goodies to the world.
3. The water-resistant bag gets tucked away inside of the towel to act as a hidden storage compartment.
4. The 100% terry cotton material is extremely soft and absorbent.
5. The hand access slits allows you to maneuver inside the towel to remove clothing.
6. A full length zipper to secure the towel closed from top to bottom while it is wrapped around you.

Roomel-review

They say honesty is the best policy, so here it goes. I do think the Roomel is a great innovative product, however; it is very tricky for women to use. I started with changing my bottoms first which was a breeze and super easy, convenient, and actually pretty fun. It was funny watching boys struggle to juggle their towel and change their shorts when I was just standing there having a blast not worrying if I was about to moon my neighbor. In a matter of minutes I had fresh shorts on!

Roomel-review

As for my top half…that is an entirely different story. The demonstration instructions show the female cinching the Roomel around her neck and changing with her head out of the towel. However, I wasn’t changing a bathing suit. I had a drenched wet sports bra on that had to get over my head, but how? As I stood there almost in a panic not knowing how to get my sports bra off without a peep show to my fellow mud runners, I had to revert to my back up plan. Luckily my friends were able to use their towels and form a circle around me so I could get my bra up and over my head without being seen. I had to use them again to get my clean sports bra back on. Once my sports bra was in check I was able to drop all towels and put my shirt on without offending anyone’s eyes (hopefully).

Roomel-review

Suggestions: The Roomel is fantastic for men! I can also see this product functioning amazing at the beach with a bathing suit on which doesn’t require you to go over the head to take it on or off. For sporting events like obstacle races, I do not see myself using it other than to change my bottoms. Unfortunately, women tend to wear sports bras that require you to go over the head which is virtually impossible to do with the Roomel. If there is a way to possibly get the towel over your head better without suffocating as you change, that would be helpful. The towel material was perfect for absorbing extra moisture from my post-race shower, however; once I was putting on new clothes it got really heavy and almost stuck to me. I think that if one side was the super absorbent towel and the other side was the water-resistant material like the bag it would make it easy to dry off using the towel and then change using the water-resistant side. Just a thought.

Roomel-review

Roomel Summary

Overall, I really like the idea of the Roomel. A normal (well made) towel can run you up to about $20.00. The Roomel’s price point sits at $49.99 which may be hard to swallow for a towel. However, if you can think of all the possibilities for this product, the price may be worth it to you. It is extremely easy to clean and pack (you just pop it in the washer like a towel and fold it back up after it is dry). I will continue to take it on trips to races so that the men in my group can use it. I will most likely use it in the changing room so I can do my bottoms using the Roomel, but change my top amongst other women. I would also like to try it in a beach or pool scenario to see how well a bathing suit does. The Roomel is a great product and with minor changes I could see it working better for women and in an obstacle racing environment.

If you want to learn more about the Roomel and you can here.

*Photos By: 3i Products, Allison Dacus, and David Lanier

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Dario

Dario is a long time distance runner and OCR athlete. When not on the roads and trails logging miles he can be found drinking coffee while reading bad science fiction books.
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