Breaking the Wall

St. George Marathon

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 149.44 Year: 1460.80
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1509.03
Brown Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 987.95
Navy Crocs Lifetime Miles: 2133.34
Race: St. George Marathon (26.22 Miles) 02:23:57, Place overall: 11
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

This report is work in progress - the note will be removed when it is complete.

St. George Marathon - 2:23:57, 11th place, PR, qualified for a bummer. Explanation - 2:22:00 or faster, you qualify for the Trials, 2:24:00 or slower, just a PR. But once you are within 2:00 of the qualifier, it is a bummer if you do not get it. So today I qualified for a bummer, it is an accomplishment, not exactly the kind I hoped for, but it breaks a 4 year drought of marathon PRs.

Ran my best race, gave it all. Felt like I was sprinting from the start to 23. Red-lining near the anaerobic threshold the entire time with complete oblivion of how dangerous this can be in a marathon. First 22 miles went by very fast. At 22, I said to myself, was that 20? Wait a minute, that was 22. That was the first time in my life that I ever wished it was only 20 when I was at 22. I did not care about pain or discomfort, or even a PR, I only cared about hitting the qualifier. But today was not the day for reasons not fully known to me, yet one thing is clear - there are more lessons I need to learn before God will give me the blessing of meeting the standard. After that, raise the bar, and try again. Indeed, as our motto says, Run, Blog, Improve, Repeat.

First half 1:12:12 at the official clock, I think it was positioned 2 seconds too far based on where the 13 mile mark was, which is more reliable, I think. Second half 1:11:45, again, based on the official position of the first half.

Some words in defense of the term bummer. The popular culture teaches positive mental attitude (PMA) and attempts to sell it as a substitute for true faith. True faith cannot happen without the ability and willingness to face the grim reality, appreciate it, feel its depth in full measure, and only then defy it with a real as opposed to a merely imagined power. Additionally, perhaps from being soaked in the PMA environment, we are at times too quick to give ourselves and others a pat on the back that is so hard that it makes it hurt for a less than a spectacular effort. While positive encouragement is not only helpful but necessary, one needs a chance to feel in depth that he shot for the stars, missed it, and be on his way to figure out what he is going to do next to reach the stars in the future. This thought process would not be sufficiently acute to produce desired results if the post-race attitude is the one of celebration. There needs to be some form of pain to prevent one from becoming complacent. Thus, while I am very happy with the fact that I broke a 4 year old PR at the age of 34 in my probably 45th (I lost count) marathon (I wonder what Tim Noakes would have to say about that), I am also happy that I have the nerve to say that I qualified for a bummer. 9 years ago I ran the same course in 2:39:48 after putting in a lot of training. I was happy that I had broken 2:40, yet the Trial's Qualifier looked so impossible, and at the same time it was calling me to reach into the depths of my soul and find a way to run faster. Had I been content to merely celebrate my sub-2:40 then, I would have never gotten anywhere close to what I did today.

From the start we formed a nice pack. The pace varied depending on the terrain. We let the A guys pull ahead, but then Steve Ashbaker led us in a surge to catch up, which was OK with me. So we were all together for a while. Hit 5 miles in 26:52. Steve pressed a bit, that made the pack go a bit faster, we hit the next two miles at somewhere around 5:05 pace, but it was a decent downhill.

At mile 7 the aid station handed me the bottle of Chris Rogers. I gave it back to them and told them what to do with it. In the mean time, I ended up getting nothing in the confusion, and lost contact with the pack. I caught up, then we started the climb. The A guys had more speed and power, and pulled away. Mike Kirk fell back a bit, then caught up. From then on we worked together more or less. Hit 10 miles in 54:32. Nick McCombs caught up, I tried to run with him, but 5:30 pace up Dameron was too fast for me, I felt 5:40-5:45 was what I needed.

Hit the half in 1:12:12. For a negative splitter, this would have been just perfect. For me this looked promising but dangerous, even though I was feeling good. I had plenty of opportunities to latch on to somebody and run faster. Yet, my body was telling me this was the fastest I could hit the first half without having negative consequences on my overall finish time. This was not a good feedback, nevertheless I promised to myself that I would rather die trying to qualify than be merely content to run a PR. So from then on, I erred on the aggressive side and did my best to override the system feedback.

Hit 15 in 1:22:12. That is 57 seconds behind the 5:25 guy. There is still hope, we are closing. A little mishap at 15, do not think it cost me the qualifier, maybe 20-30 seconds max. My bottle with Hornet Juice was not there. I was counting on it. I stopped and tried to find it. After about 5 seconds I realized it was hopeless, and just kept going. I ended up getting nothing at all 15. Lesson learned - I will not do bottles any more unless I am running in a race that makes you do it. I get plenty of fuel just from the regular drinks, and the bottles only add extra stress and confusion. The confusion cost me broken rhythm and loss of contact with Mike Kirk, Mike Vick, and Steve Macintire. However, I do not think it cost me as much as 1:57.

The "Heart-Break" hill felt like a minor rise. Good sign, except it broke the rhythm again, and set me back in the chase of the 5:25 guy. Logan Fielding went by. He moved so fast I could not latch on. I thought barring a severe disaster he was going to get the qualifier. I felt like saying to him, Logan, go get it for the Blog for me, if I cannot today. Hit 20 miles in 1:49:09. The OTQ guy is now only 49 seconds ahead. There is one problem though - he does not slow down on flat or uphill, and he does not slow down after 24, while I do. It was very clear from the split, and how I felt, that barring a disaster, I had a PR in the bag, and barring a serious but still remotely doable miracle, the OTQ was out of range. Nevertheless, I told myself that it is better to risk missing a PR while trying to get the qualifier, than just give up. I floored it on the next downhill mile hoping to gain momentum, ran 5:03, this gave me hope, next one 5:38 with less downhill and more uphill, still a glimmer of hope remaining, then 5:22 instead of 5:00 on a downhill mile, followed by a 5:48, then it became painfully clear that the trials qualifier guy had hopelessly run away.

Iain Hunter came by. I was a relative zombie by then, could not latch on. Ran another mile in 5:48. Heard steps behind me. I said to myself, if this is Clyde, I am going to strangle him. Not for beating me, but for being in shape to qualify, and not trying by starting on pace. It was Kelly Mortenson. He was not as lively as Iain, so I was able to latch on for a bit. But then I could not go. Mental note for trying to run in The Zone next time - one minute on one minute off. I think the limit can very well be at least partially neurological, and the nervous system actually might be able to deal with the surges better than even pace at that stage.

2:16:48 at 25. The clock at supposedly 25.2 was in the wrong place, too far away from the finish. Why put up a clock at a random location in the race to confuse the already confused runners? Stumbled my way through the next mile in 5:57, then saw I could beat the 2:24:00 guy, kicked, managed 1:12 for the last 385 yards thus qualifying for a bummer (within 2:00 of the standard)!

The bloggers did great. To start with, Paul got standard A with 2:18:08, and Logan standard B with 2:21:45. I have particularly fond feelings about Logan getting it. I feel he got it for the Blog for me. He mentioned in his blog that he feels he does not deserve it. Nevertheless, there is a reason, and whatever it might be, I am very happy we will have two people from the Blog at the Trials.

There were three more bloggers who cracked 2:30 setting PRs - Steve Ashbaker (2:25:18), Clyde (2:25:50) - after reading his report I do not feel like strangling him, he really ran his best, and Dave Holt - 2:26:54. We captured 10 spots in the top 25 in the race. We had numerous "impossible" PRs. Over the course of the next week I will visit each blog individually and leave my thoughts.

It boggles my mind what we have accomplished. Consider Paul - he ran for Calvin, a division III college. His best 5 K was 14:47. He could not even crack 30:30 in a 10 K. He was a good college runner, but by far not a stand-out, just one of many point scoring workhorses. After college is he is falling through the cracks. Not much is happening in his career. He is getting beat in local 5 Ks and 10 Ks, tries marathons, gets beat up and left in the dust in any race of significance. Finally he gets injured, and cannot even run for a year. Looks like a typical case of a post-collegiate failure, he is headed for the runners junk yard or meat factory, depending on which metaphor you like better. Wrong! He joins the blog, finds a support network, recovers from his injuries, discovers better ways to train, and in a year goes from the butcher's knife candidate to qualifying for the Trials with standard A with room to spare!

Look at Logan. We have a guy that ran 2:41 in St. George last year, followed by 2:55 crash-and-burn in Ogden this year. He never ran for anybody, in fact he started running at all only 3 years ago. He is not "cool", he has not been through the ranks of high school and collegiate running at all. But he does not care. He joins the blog. He sees guys training twice a day running 100+ miles a week. He says, I want to give it a shot, is this a good idea? We tell him, yes, go ahead, give it a shot. In 6 months, he runs a Trial's Qualifier.

Look at Clyde, Dave Holt, and Steve Ashbaker. They have similar stories. I cannot help but think of a scripture in Luke 3:8. The arrogant Jews approached Christ saying that they were "cool", because they were the children of Abraham. Christ responded with this:

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

How can God raise children unto Abraham out of the stones? He gives us blessings based upon our faith and how that faith is manifested through our works, not just based upon the gifts we've been given, or our past accomplishments that may have had to do more with our talent than our diligence.

Applying this to running - nobody needs to feel that because they are not "cool" (high-school star, All-American in college, etc), they cannot accomplish something noteworthy. You may feel like a stone, but out of that stone through faith and hard work on your part God can raise a great runner.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Ethan on Sat, Oct 06, 2007 at 23:25:18

Well congrats on your bummer qualifier! It is a bummer for sure. But you did amazing none the less. And hey at least it was a PR. So if you keep that trend up you should qualify next time!

From Tom on Sat, Oct 06, 2007 at 23:43:24

"Ran the best race I could have possibly run today, gave it all."

Anytime a runner can make that statement it sounds like a successful race to me. Don't know if I can honestly say I've done that on any of my marathons YET.

Even with a "bummer qualifier" you still inspire.

From James in Sunny AZ on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 00:06:38

Congratulation, Sasha! Giving it your all is the only thing that you can ask of yourself. You deserve to feel happy with your performance, even if you did not hit the qualifier. I agree with Tom, you are an inspiration to all of us.

From Shauna on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 00:48:46

Sasha, I agree with all of the above. Congrats on the PR, and I am confident you will meet your 2:22 goal, AND you are quite the inspiration!

From Paul Thomas on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 03:01:50

Awesome run, Sasha! I figure I owe you at least 8 minutes today. I was going to try for 3:15. At the party you convinced me to go for 3:10, and not to be afraid of going out too fast. I ended up with 3:07 and a 20 minute improvement in my PR. You've had that sort of effect on many of us bloggers. If I could, I'd willingly give you a couple of my PR minutes for your OTQ. You deserve them...but you don't need them. You're "bummer qualifier" is just a stepping stone to your OTQ.

From Christi on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 10:28:58

Sasha- I'm sorry you didn't meet your #1 goal. But I'm glad you are looking at the positive and hopefully you will bask in the glory of your PR. I think you ran an awe inspiring race!!!!!!! It was great to meet you & Sarah and your family Fri. night. Thanks again for putting this blog together and sharing your knowlege and experiences with us all!

From Jed Burton on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 10:50:48

You may not have met your goal, but look at the success of everyone on the blog yesterday. A lot of their achievements have a great deal to do with the blog and the advice they get from you. It always hurts when you come up short of your goal, but you should take some comfort in knowing how many people you've helped along the way, including me.

From Paul Ivory on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 10:57:43

Sasha, you are an awesome runner and as noted above you are an inspiration to lots of runners. In particular, your blog has inspired Ethan to do a PR at St. George, thanks for that.

From Steve Hooper on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 11:55:58

Sash, Congrats on "breaking a 4 year drought of marathon PRs"! You ran an amazing race. What a great year. You've been able to help establish friendships, inspire, motivate so many of us to become better runners. Keep up the good work!

From Clay on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 12:22:38

Great job Sasha... You are an inspiration to me, and I think I echo evryone on the blog when I say thanks for all you do for us...

From Maria on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 15:35:40

Sasha, I'm sorry you didn't hit the OTQ. I kept looking at results, and when I saw Logan's name at 2:21:45 as the last qualifier I knew you didn't make it. That's a bummer, for sure. I can't help but think back to your illness last weekend (not that you could do anything about it!) You'll have to wait 3 more years, but you can still do it. The Blog did awesome, and as everyone said, your role in that is huge.

From Superfly on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 16:40:16

Sasha you ran you heart out. I wanted you to qualify just as bad as you wanted to qualify yourself. You've worked very hard. The good news is you ran a PR and are moving in the right direction.

I know you don't read Runners World but this month there was an article about some guys who have qualified for the trials this year. Just average Joe's like you and I. One of them is 40 years old this year, and I'm guessing he's pretty glad he didn't give up on his goal to try and hit a OTQ- just keep making progress. For now though I think you should rest up for a few months and take it easy.

From Mik'L on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 17:38:59

I'm still saying you did amazing! Way to PR and run a great race. If you can't be crazy excited about your own PR, take a look at the many many PRs of the bloggers and you have to smile. I would venture to say that many of these PRs wouldn't have happened if not for this blog. We had over 60 people at the blog party on Friday night. It is amazing that this blog has brought together so many people that would have never known each other. It was great to cheer everyone on and the people next to us kept saying..."You guys know EVERYONE!"

From Paul Petersen on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 18:14:59

Sasha, great job. Missing trials after seeking it so hard is a bummer in a sense, but being able to hold your head high from giving it your all is not. Your persistence and training will overcome in the end. And in the meantime, you continue to touch the lives of many people on this blog and elsewhere, and we are all thankful to you.

From Brent on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 18:44:51

Sasha, you are the best and gave it your best, thats all that can be asked. All the bloggers owe you for your running wisdom and help. Congrads on the PR. I am sure your will turn this bummer lemon into lemonade.

Thanks again. Brent and Sylvia

From Lybi on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 18:53:10

Sasha, you were very majestic coming in. Congratulations on the PR and sorry about the OTQ! Your success out there is not reflected in the numbers on the clock as much as by the number of people who owe you BIG TIME for all the inspiration and encouragement you've provided. You're still getting faster, and that's not going to change any time soon, if I know you.

From Chris Rogers on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 20:13:21


Great run! I know you really wanted the qualifier, but shaving time off your PR at the level you're running is very difficult--to PR by almost a minute is a great accomplishment!

From MichelleL on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 20:28:18

Sasha, setting such a high goal and giving your all is all you can do. We all know you have sacrificed so much and couldn't have done more than give your all. Congratulations on a PR and for breaking your several year marathon PR slump.

Also, thank you so much for all of your help on the blog. You're the closest thing I have to a coach and I appreciate it!

From Michelle on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 20:34:27

I have to agree with everyone else, you ran a great race and can be proud of the PR and the great success that you helped everyone else achieve! It was so great to meet and visit with you, your wife and family. Thanks for all you do for all of us wether it is on a elite or much more sub-elite level. Just watching you and all the other blog runners was such a treat and great inspiring experience and we owe that all to you!

From laura on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 22:59:07

Congratulations, Sasha!! Not only on your PR but for the magnificent effect you have on everyone around you. I had tears just from reading the comments of everyone so far. All of us admire, appreciate, and look up to you; and we all improve just because of your willingness to "give your all" in everything you do. Thanks for how you've helped and motivated even me - a beginner.

From Cheryl Keith on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 23:10:54

I have to echo what's been said, Sasha. I set a PR at St. George and I owe it to what I've read on this blog. You have been a great inspiration to so many runners. Thanks!!

From Jon on Sun, Oct 07, 2007 at 23:56:18

No bummer about it- you set a PR, ran super fast, and gave it your all. Great race.

From James on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 01:29:02

You ran your best race ever, and you will never hear me say it is a bummer. I know you have worked hard but you still have other chances for trials. Don't let your dreams be dashed by a one race that you fell a little short, keep after it. Any day you PR is a good day!

From Dave Holt on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 09:33:41

Sasha, I know that this was a difficult pill for you to swallow. But you said it yourself I "Ran the best race I could have possibly run today". You gave it your all and even hit a new PR for yourself. Be proud, you did very well. Be even more proud, your blog has helped hundreds achieve more than they thought they ever could!

From Randy on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 11:10:24

It will come, brother. I just got spanked by a 48-year-old in an XC race this weekend. You are young... and you have the right approach for continuous improvement.

From zac on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 11:13:13

For a guy like you, disappointment will just make you work harder and do better. So close.

From Dave Holt on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 12:39:38

Randy, maybe you shouldn't admit that! j/k.

From Cheston on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 12:51:09


Congrats on the PR, I know your not satisfied, your still amazing.

From Dustin on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 13:13:00


Like you said I know this was a bummer for you, but you still have many great years ahead of you. You gave it your all and things didn't workout just the way you had hoped, but I know with your faith and determination you will be able to gain a lot from this experience. Hopefully this race will help you to continue to grow and gain confidence in your training and racing. I know how much you enjoy reading the scriptures, so at times like this I like to just go back to the beginning of the Book of Mormon and read about all of Nephi's trials and how at times he had to go back and work to overcome adversity.

I think what you have done to help this running blog/community has been truly awesome. So many people have benefited from being able to be a part of this forum.

I know personally I spend way too many hours blogging and reading blogs. But I just find a lot of the information so interesting and useful.

Good luck in the next few weeks with your training and recovery. I might be coming up to Provo in a few weeks, so I'll try to look you and Ted up and go for a run with you guys.

From ashman on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 14:29:29

It aint over till the fat lady sings! You know Carlos Lopes set a record at the age of 37 and your still three years away from that. You just started training at high mileage and and you got a PR. What else can I say?

From Logan on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 14:34:32

I finally have some time to sit down and comment on your blog Sasha. I know I would not be where I am today without the support of you and the blog. It really has pushed me and made me want to be better. I appreciate all your wisdom and knowledge that you have so graciously bestowed upon me. If I could, I would switch and let you run the Olympic Trials instead of me. I feel you deserve it more than me. Thanks for everything and you are an inspiration to a ton of people out there. I know you will get the OTQ someday!

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 14:43:02

Thanks everybody for the encouragement. Steve - I am going to tell the fat lady to join the Fast Running Blog so she won't be fat when she feels inclined to sing.

From Superfly on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 14:49:58

I'm glad you don't want to strangle me. It was a fun race and now I'm ready for the next steping stone.

From Kristina on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 15:39:36

Holy Longness! Both the post and the comments! I kept scrolling and scrolling and there was no end in sight. But very worthwhile longness. I appreciate most your bummer defense. Great way to be optimistic without being complacent. But congrats on the PR. You work hard and your hard work is paying off. I'm sure it will continue to do so and as it does your goals can get higher and higher.

From Mike on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 16:16:39

You ran with courage and tenacity, and I applaud you for it. I'm glad for your PR, and while it might be bittersweet given it's proximity to the Olympic standard, it's still something to be very proud of.

From Jackie Farnsworth on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 17:49:26

Dear Sasha,

I am not a member of the blog but I have 2 daughters (Lybi and Laura), a daughter-in-law (Kristina) and a son-in-law (James W)who are so I am on the blog a lot. I am touched beyond measure by the comraderie and family feeling among the bloggers. I read the comments in tears. This is obviously an attitude which they pick up from you. You have made a loving support group out of a bunch of people and have made them all try to be better than they have ever been. What a nice blog site. Jackie

From Lulu on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 17:55:02

Sasha, Congrats on the PR. So sorry about the OTQ! I was so sad when I looked at the race results Saturday night, but happy to see such phenomenal results of the Bloggers. You did great and you should have no regrets. Push forward. You motivate me. Thanks.

From Andy on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 22:01:04

Congrats on the PR. I hope you know how much this blog has meant to everybody and that you deserve some credit for the outstanding performances that everybody turned in. Just looking through the results, it is amazing how many bloggers finished within one place of another blogger. That really says a lot. Thanks again for all that you put into the running community.

From Michael on Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 23:34:37

I feel for you missing the OTQ so close, but I believe you can still do it in the next Olympics with your dedication and energy. I also feel pride for you doing your best and setting that PR. Thanks for what you have done for the blog and the inspiration and energy you give everyone else

From KT on Tue, Oct 09, 2007 at 16:34:27

Sasha, I just read your blog I was wondering how the marathon went for you. I am sorry you did not reach the goal you had hoped for, I think you and everyone else did awsome.

I read alot of this with tears in my eyes. I don't think most if any of these runners relize how many people sit back in awe at what you can do with your bodies.

I have only been on here for a week and I already feel that I can be better than I ever thought I could.

I would fall down crying if I could finish a marathon before everyone else went home.

From someone who is new to this running stuff. I am in awe of all of you.

From Mike K on Tue, Oct 09, 2007 at 18:40:18

Sasha, you put yourself into position to qualify. You looked good especially when you passed me at 20 something. You are still young enough to qualify next time. Nothing is as motivating as failure. I almost signed up for the Richmond Marathon yesterday. This race will spur you to train harder.

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