Legend Race Obstacle Course Race Report 9/19/2015

On September 19th, 2015, Legend Race held its most recent OCR. Located just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, this locally based company is known for its intense obstacles, fantastic trail running, and ability to both be fantastic for beginnings as well as providing enough “umph!” for seasoned OCRers.

Legend Race has also sponsored my OCR events. I wanted to come and represent the team and run very well here.

Pre-Race

I did a little bit of scouting to see exactly what I would be up against. I figured that there were two or three people that would ultimately give me some competition, but I wasn’t sure how that would play out. Amanda and I interacted with a number of people that were there, many of whom were getting their first experience into the OCR world. Pretty cool!

I ended up overhearing two important things that impacted my race. The first is that the course was right at 5 miles. This ended up not being exactly accurate as it was only 4.25 according to my GPS watch. The second was that there was a half-mile log carry. These two pieces of information absolutely impacted the running portion of my race. I didn’t quite go as hard as I planned to really attack the race after the half-mile log carry as that made up an entire 10% of the race. Therefore, I wanted to be as fresh as possible while still giving me a shot to win so I wouldn’t lose a ton of time on the log carry.

Race

The gun was off and I quickly found myself in second place. I very quickly analyzed Sam’s (he and I later talked and I figured out who he was) running gait and knew that I was a more efficient runner and a better runner. 4 tenths of a mile in and I found myself in first place. I went off course just before the first obstacle and again found myself in second place. I went into the tire flip winning; Sam came out in first. I caught Sam less than a tenth of a mile later going into the rope climb.

The rope climb is something I’ve really been working on. This particular one was right up my alley because I was able to run and jump into it – the Spartan Races make you start waist deep in water. Here, I ran, never stopped my momentum, jumped as high as I could into the rope, grabbed it, did my “S” hook and slapped the bell. I jumped back down and found myself winning the race again.

We continued to run through the woods. I got caught at an obstacle that I wasn’t quite sure how to do and lost my lead here. I ended up getting the lead at the pole climb into the tryolean traverse. I got to the obstacle in 2nd, climbed the pole the quickest, and was able to use my core to swing my legs up to the rope traverse. This was exciting because I have really been working on my core strength as well. In fact, the guy that ended up finishing second commented on how easy that looked for me. Nailed this obstacle and I was off again!

Sam ended up catching me on the run, and the 7 and 8 foot walls right back to back, and I lost the lead for good.

On the log carry I was also passed, and ended up finishing in fourth.

Top 4

Post-Race

The post race celebration was small but definitely enjoyable. There was plenty of music, a celebratory beer, and a nice completion medal for everyone to show off.

Amanda and Ryan After Race

The biggest take away from the race for me is that I need to continue to work on my carries – I got beat at the jerry can carries as well as the log carry. To this end, I have purchased a bucket that I’m filling with rocks as well as a 50 pound sandbag I’m using in one workout per week.

In hindsight, I absolutely should have attacked the running portions where I would have the lead and let people catch me. I wanted to attack the race after the log carry rather than attacking prior, doing it log carry as quickly as I could hopefully with the lead, and then attempting to hold on. Rather, I let people get too far ahead and me and this ended up not working in my favor. I think that with a different race strategy I could have ran better. There were a couple of times where while I was winning and second and third place couldn’t see me – I should have attacked those portions, dropped the hammer, increased my lead and hopefully demoralize the competition. Rather, I walked those portions, let them catch me in hopes of having more in the tank for the last part of the race.

The biggest negative for me is that I ended up getting destroyed by poison oak/poison ivy. My coworkers who ended up seeing the rash called it a “flesh-eating” event. It was actually pretty gnarly, and I had to go on prednisone to get rid of it.

Overall, this race was a 4.5 out of 5 for me. I truly enjoyed being there, interacting with fellow OCRers, racing well, and getting another check as to where I need to get better.

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Spartan Race Wintergreen, Virginia Super

Wow. What a race. The Spartan Race Virginia Super was easily the most intense race I’ve ever participated in. I have literally never wanted to quit a race – although this race made me want to quit numerous times.

This was my first race as a member of the Legend Race Competitive Team. Check out Legend Race here .

Start Line

The Race

This race is a legend in regards to Obstacle Course Racing and specifically the Spartan Series. When Amanda and I ran in the Spartan Beast and Super weekend in Carolina, we often heard from our fellow racers that Wintergreen was tougher even though it was three miles shorter. I didn’t really believe them – I absolutely do now.

The race is held on the ski resort of Wintergreen, Virginia. The race directors absolutely take full advantage of this as much of the course is up and down the ski slopes. In fact, it was hilarious to watch the ski

I ran in the 8:45 AM heat. While I had hoped to run the entire race between 2 and 3 hours, that wasn’t to be the case for me. I ended up running a solid 4 hours and 9 minutes. Pretty disappointed, but it was an incredibly difficult race.

The course was right at nine miles in length. It was the first time that I’ve noticed the course count down – it certainly added a different level of thought process and racing planning. I actually really appreciated it.

The race was brutal – there were numerous people laying on the side of the mountain with cramps, rubbing their legs, walking, and just trying to make it.

Some high notes: I hit the spear throw for the first time. I was getting ready to get up to it and I heard someone say, “loft it and throw it higher than you think you should.” So I tried it and hit it. I was pretty pumped about that.

Some lows: I still get wrecked on carries. I’m finding that I’m passing people on the running portion – a lot. Very few people actually pass me while running. But those same people end up passing me on the carries. Even going downhill, I’m struggling with the carries. It’s actually frustrating. I’m going to get my own bucket of rocks and sandbag to begin working on that skill. I’ve got to get better.

Ryan Fire Jump 3

Race Venue

As always, the Spartan Race venue is awesome. It seemed… empty… this time, though. There weren’t as many racers in Wintergreen this year, and to date, the race hasn’t been announced.

I’m honestly curious if it was too difficult and that some racers couldn’t appreciate how difficult the venue is. That may be why attendance was so low. We’ll see what ends up happening. It will be interesting to see if it comes back in 2016.

Pre-Race Image

Final Thoughts

This was my second super. I’m getting better but still have a long way to go. I’ll be back at Wintergreen should they have the event again, although I certainly won’t be looking forward to it.

I think that Amanda will also want to do this one again, although she certainly wasn’t happy. You can see in the image below she’s holding back tears as she was totally beat during this race and took a while to recover both mentally and physically.

At Finish 2

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#LegendRace Sponsorship and Competitive Team

This is an incredibly exciting post for me to write.

I have been accepted as a member of #LegendRace ‘s competitive and sponsored team! This will serve as a re-introduction to those already familiar with my blog and an introduction to those who will be reading for the first time.

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My name is Ryan Bowyer and I am a 27 year old semi-competitive runner really looking to take the next step. I ran cross country in college at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA after running cross country and track, playing baseball and basketball in high school. I ran competitively all through undergrad and then got to grad school and immediately gave it up. Between the course work, my assistantship, and meeting my now-wife, there were simply other priorities that took precedent. I entered the professional world in 2012 and regained that love of running.

Trifecta Earned

Since then, I have won a number of local races, won my age group in some larger 5Ks, and qualified for the 2014 Warrior Dash World Championship and, by default, the Independently Run OCR World Championship. I didn’t get to run in either, and won’t have the opportunity this fall either, but I’m looking to in 2016.
In addition to running OCRs, I have also been slowly building my mileage to get into ultra-marathons. I’ve got my first one lined up here in Myrtle Beach next Spring, and eventually would like to qualify to get in the Western States lotto.

I also enjoy doing a variety of hiking, and it is one of my goals to hike the peak in every state. I’ll be getting North Carolina’s peak later this month and Maine’s later this fall.
#LegendRace is pretty meaningful to me and I can’t say how excited I am to be joining this team.

I have raced two of #LegendRace ‘s events – the first one was my second obstacle race in September 2013 and my wife’s first ever. The event at the Conservator’s marked my wife’s first ever medal and it was a pretty cool moment.

Actually – it is because of Obstacle Course Racing that my wife finally likes beer! She decided that after working her ass off she wanted to be able to enjoy her hard earned beer.

The team’s mission is super important to me as well. While we want to be competitive, and rock out, and win races, this stuff is so much more than that. It is truly about becoming a better version of ourselves than we were the previous day, and being better tomorrow than we were today. When we engage in these primal, primitive activities, like climbing ropes, jumping over obstacles, rolling around in mud, we become free. Whatever the professional world can throw at us is so much less troublesome knowing the crazy things we are capable of doing.

There is a support group here that can be found nowhere else. I tell young athletes that are considering taking up running that it is the craziest thing – you can be competing for a district or regional championship, as my teams often were, we would still encourage through huffs and grunts those teams that were most closely competing with us. Because we know what it takes. We know what it’s like. We know what we put into this sport.

And that’s what these teams are about. They are about making us all better. #LegendRace is going to make me a hell of a better runner, athlete, teammate, but more importantly, #LegendRace is going to help make me a better friend, husband, and person.

I’m looking forward to going on the journey with #LegendRace, and I’m extremely humbled and grateful for taking me on.

Feel free to comment, hit me up on facebook (Ryan Bowyer), twitter at @ryanbowyer115, or Instagram @RyanBowyer115 .

Keep running,

Ryan

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HYLETE Sponsorship

All,

I am incredibly excited to announce that I have secured my first sponsorship – HYLETE .

As part of my sponsorship, anyone that wants to take advantage of looking at a relatively new company with great gear, you can use my personal code

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You must create an account on HYLETE.com in order to use the promo code.

I am incredibly excited to begin this partnership and can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Keep running,

Ryan

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Chauncey’s Night 5K

This is another incredibly exciting post for me to write, even if it is about a month overdue.

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After transitioning to Conway, South Carolina to take my position in University Housing here at Coastal Carolina University, I have not been able to toe the starting line. This was a race I wasn’t planning on running, either; I simply haven’t had the time to put in any time to train and/or run. However, on the insistence of a couple of my co-workers, I decided to support CCU and run in the second annual Chancey’s Night 5K!

After a quick warm up, we were on the starting line. Everyone went out extremely fast! I tried staying relatively calm, and get into a 6:30 per mile pace. I feel as if it was slightly quicker, although I didn’t go out with the leaders. I started in approximately 20th place, and within .75 of a mile was to 10th. I attempted to hold 10th, but was passed by two of the local high school female stars. Shortly after that, I settled in to what would ultimately be my finishing place – 12th overall of over 600 runners. I literally ran by myself for the last 2400 meters. As I wasn’t in as great of shape as I would have liked, I never was able to make a move and try to get back into 10th.

The course was interesting in that there was a loop in the middle of it. As a result, I was able to run past a couple of my co-workers, as well as my wife, who finished quite well.

I finished 12th of over 600 registrants with a time of 20:21. I was pleased with this with so little training, although it would have been nice to have broken 20:00. It has been a long time since I have done that, but I definitely see it coming in the next few months.

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The event was placing three deep in age group categories. I knew that there were a lot of 25-29 runners, and I wasn’t sure where I was going to play. Third place was called, second place was called, and I got pretty nervous. I hadn’t thought I had ran well enough to place first, so I had been expecting second. However, I was incredibly surprised when the announced that I had won my age group!
Amanda, Megan, and I stuck around for a couple of photos, and then we were done! Successful trip!

I will definitely be running this again next year. Super exciting!

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Successful Summit of Mount Rogers, Wild Ponies, and Vibram Five-Fingers

This is an incredibly exciting post to write, and one that differs quite a bit from my usual running-related adventures.

Over the past few months, Amanda and I have been talking about seeing all 50 states – the adventurer in me suggested on a whim to see if we could summit the peaks/high points of every state in the Nation. It’s exciting to announce that this past weekend Amanda and I officially started this extremely lofty goal by successfully summiting the 19th highest peak, Mount Rogers in Virginia.

Our weekend-long trip began on Friday. We stopped by to grab supplies at Food Lion and then hit the road. The entire drive was only 2 hours, and I had made plans for us to stop in Marion, Virginia to eat lunch with a few of my old fraternity brothers, Jameson and Graham. Jameson is one of my very best friends and I hadn’t had the opportunity to see him since my wedding in December, and I hadn’t seen Graham in almost five years. We ate at a new Japanese restaurant, Yummy Yummy. The food was fantastic – the service was pretty lackluster. After two hours of reminiscing, we said our goodbyes and were off to our campsite for the night.

We camped at the Grindstone Campground. We arrived, set up our tent, and waited for our friends Sarah and Phillip to arrive. Sarah and Phillip are quite outdoorsy, so we were excited to share in this opportunity to experience our first peak with them.

One of the coolest parts of the evening was that Sarah and Phillip both bought Vibram Five-Fingers to do the hike in! Amanda and I had stated over our private Facebook event that we would be doing them in Vibrams, and we knew that Sarah had purchased a pair, as well. What we didn’t know was that Phillip had also purchased a pair and that we would all be doing them in these awesome five-toed shoes. It actually became a theme for our weekend.

We ate dinner, made sure our bags were packed, and called it a night as we knew we had 3300 feet of elevation to gain and 21 miles over two days.

Day 2 started out with breakfast and hitting the trail.

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It was a relatively uneventful first part of the day as we were mainly switchbacking and gaining elevation. We stopped to take this photo of our Vibrams.

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Shortly thereafter, our dog Anya had perhaps the first funny moment of the trip. We were walking and, as she did most of the trip, Anya was leading our group. All of a sudden we see Anya leap like a frog three or four times. We never heard her yelp in pain, but we imagine she was startled by a stick or bug rubbing up against her. Definitely funny.

We continued on the Appalachian Trail and hit the first of many vistas overlooking the highlands. This was another definite highlight of our trip. Just take a look at these photos. Beautiful scenery and definitely an amazing experience.

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We also had another fun encounter with Anya. We were on this extremely large rock. We had left Anya down below and were taking pictures. All of a sudden Anya comes jumping up the rock – a legitimate rock climber! We were so surprised. We had a bit of a time getting her down but everyone was off safely.

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We ended up continuing on, in and out of the forest. We eventually hit the Mount Rogers Spur Summit Trail (or something with a similar name), and climbed the .54 miles up to the top. We hit the top right at 1:30, which put us doing the 6.5ish miles in just under three hours, after doing some stopping, taking pictures, and not really pushing it too hard. Interestingly, there are two USGS markers. The first marker is the one you come to, and many people think that this is the summit. It actually isn’t. In order to get to the summit, you have to continue on another 10 or 15 yards. Here, you get to the actual summit of Virginia. We stayed here for a half hour, ate lunch, then continued on our way.

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Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip for Amanda and Sarah occurred shortly after our successful summit – the Shetland ponies! These ponies were magnificent. They literally came right up to you (more than likely expecting food!) and nuzzled into you. There were fantastic. We stayed here for quite a while – perhaps 45 minutes, watching these awesome animals. We continued on, knowing we had less than two miles until we were going to stop for the evening.

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Anya even enjoyed watching the ponies!

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We had another awesome view out over the highlands right as we ended our walk on the Appalachian Trail and went on to a loose-rock Crest Trail. After these awesome views and awesome pictures of our Vibrams, we continued on.

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Perhaps the worst part of the entire trip occurred here. The loose-rock was absolutely terrible. 1.18 miles on this, and we were done, or so we thought.

After the 1.18 miles, we were supposed to hit a campsite with a spring, grassy, and spacious. This wasn’t to be the case, however, as the campsite’s spring was dry. We were literally running to the campsite, only to be devastated when the campsite wasn’t going to work for the evening as we were running relatively low on water and wanted to be able to stock up using my filter. Someone had even carved out “No Water” on the “Water” sign.

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We regrouped and made the collective decision to make another 2 mile trek down to The Scales, a popular site along the Appalachian Trail. We made the two miles, were exhausted, and began setting up camp for the night.

This was another really enjoyable part of our evening. Amanda and I set up our hammocks (more on those later) and Phillip and Sarah set up the tent.

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Anya, who was equally exhausted, immediately went into the tent and laid down – she was done for the evening!

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Amanda, who loves her fire, began working on fire and dinner.

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Phillip, Sarah, and I went looking for wood. All around us, people were struggling to find wood. Phillip set a trend, found massive piles, and soon everyone was copying him. We had the best fire all evening thanks to Phillip. Dinner was fantastic, as Amanda and I bought supplies to do Chicken Quesadillas. We also had some friend Vienna Sausages and some freeze-dried meals. All in all, we ate like kings.

The evening was pretty uneventful. We all called it a night shortly before dark. Amanda and I were experiencing our hammocks for the first time. It was quite a crazy experience, as weather that high can quickly change. We definitely weren’t sure what our experience was going to be, and as we were packing up for the night, it definitely looked like it was going to rain. Thankfully, there was no rain, but the wind got up pretty high during the night. There were a couple of occasions where I was woken up by the wind moving my hammock. In fact, for a majority of the evening I was awake, I was watching my tree shake back and forth! Pretty cool experience.

Day 3 of our trip was even more uneventful. We got up, filtered water, and hit the trail. We had a little over 7 miles to go and most of it was downhill. We knocked it all out in less than four hours and hit the road. One of the coolest parts of the day was that Anya was able to cross her first stream! We had to show her where to step, but previously she had been so terrified of water it was a moment worth capturing!

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We ended up eating at Macado’s in Marion, Virginia. We had celebratory beers and definitely were excited for where this newfound adventure is going to take us! First of many peaks to bag!

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Pros
– A successful first summit!
– Great times with great friends.
– Us all doing the weekend in Vibrams. We had a number of people ask us along the way if we liked the shoes – it was an overwhelming YES! We absolutely loved doing this adventure in Vibrams, and seek to continue to use Vibrams as our Peakbagging shoes of choice!
– Ponies
– We ate like kings on the trail
– The amazing views of the Grayson Highlands

Cons
– The water not being at that beautiful campsite
– The Crest Trail

Gear Used:
Vibram Five-Fingers
Under Armour Cold & Heat Gear
Halo Sweat Band
Military Style Pack
Nalgene Bottles

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North Carolina Warrior Dash – Qualified for the World Championships!

Pre-Race
This was a race that I almost withdrew from. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend the money to get a hotel room, pay the gas, parking, etc. However, I wanted to experience a Warrior Dash, and really get in three of the four major events this year (Tough Mudder is the only OCR that I haven’t competed in yet). However, I knew that there was probably an outside shot that if I ran well, I could qualify for the Warrior Dash World Championship and the independent OCR World Championship. I decided to go for it, and was paid off!

My wife, Amanda, and I set out to Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday evening. We had a really pleasant drive. Checked in to the hotel shortly before 9:00 PM, and got ourselves ready to battle!

The Race

One of the things that I appreciated most about the Warrior Dash was that there was plenty of room to run. Perhaps it is because I am getting in increasingly better shape and have prepared myself more effectively for the OCRs, I felt like I was actually racing in between the obstacles and was not just trying to sludge through the event.

Got off to a pretty great start. Went off and found myself flirting between 15th and 17th place. Definitely felt fantastic about where I was. I’ve noticed that I often lost places on the obstacles and gain places where I have the ability to run. A lot of grass, some trail, and some hills and I was able to continue to move up. Found myself in approximately 13th place as we hit the first major obstacles, which were an 8’, 10’, and tunnel obstacles. Lost a couple of places here. Throughout the race, though, I was letting a couple of people pass throughout the event.

Nothing of major note the rest of the way until I get to Goliath. I’m feeling fantastic and have just passed a number of people. I’ve been thinking to myself that I can perhaps crack the top 20 with a great kick. Scramble up Goliath and get to the slide portion. Go down quickly, hit the water, and I’m shot. I have trouble getting out of the water/mud pit. I look in front of me, and I’m very quickly 20 meters behind the next guy. Look behind and there is no one there. I walk 20 yards to the next obstacle. Barbed wire crawl in mud. I look again behind me. No one is there. I take my time going through the barbed wire and hit the mud pit again. I see Amanda taking pictures of me. I walk through this, but since I didn’t see anyone in front of me, I fall pretty hard when it goes from being 2 feet deep to 4 or 5 feet deep. Look behind me. No one is there. Get out of the mud pit, again after having trouble, and walk to the finish.

I grab my medal, unsure of exactly where I finished. I think that I’m in the top 25, but I’m not sure. I get in the line where they are writing down numbers and names, and hear in front of me that a guy got 21st. Count the next two, and I’m in 23rd. So excited! At this point, Amanda had run to the car to put her belongings in the car and to get ready for her race. She had wanted to stay and ask me but I told her to go so she could get ready!

I am ecstatic. While I haven’t been working particularly hard (this is a theme with this blog), I know that this justifies that I can be good at this sport. I qualified for TWO world championships in the same race. Fantastic. I see Amanda, jog to her, and tell her the news! She’s insanely excited for me.

Amanda’s Race

We line up for the 9:00 heat and we’re off. Nothing major to note with Amanda’s race, other than I felt she ran really well. We ended up running the first two miles on and off with a family all racing in tie-die shirts. We would pass them on the obstacles and they would pass us on the running portions. We finally lost them around the 2 mile mark, and didn’t look back. As has been the case, Amanda ended up beating me on a couple of the obstacles, especially the crawling ones.

Amanda ends up having the exact opposite issue in regards to when she passes people. Often, she passes people on the obstacles and loses positions on the runs. Really interesting. This was definitely the case with our tie-die friends.

After finishing in a little under 48 minutes, I definitely think that Amanda could do much better with some pretty serious training. We have set a goal for her to qualify for a World Championship as well. I definitely think that she can do it and we have begun altering training in order for her to get there and accomplish this goal.

Festival Area

The festival area was awesome. A live band playing old rock and roll greats highlighted the festivities. Further, Shock Top was fantastic as they provided four different varieties to choose from. Amanda picked up the Belgian Ale while I grabbed the Pretzel Wheat. We both loved our beers and definitely have one that we will be trying again in the future. The atmosphere was a ton of fun and we truly enjoyed the festival area.

Wrap up

Overall, I had a fantastic first Warrior Dash experience. Amanda and I will definitely be back, and this time we will be bringing friends. We arrived early enough that the check-in lines didn’t affect us or our experience, I didn’t care about my time as I only wanted placement information, and I timed Amanda’s race. She wasn’t interested in seeing how she stacked up and only wanted to know what her time was. The festival area was the best we’ve experienced yet and Shock Top is a great sponsor. The Warrior Dash is definitely one that we will be coming back to.

World Championships

For those that are interested, here are the links for the World Championships

Warrior Dash Championships – https://www.warriordash.com/world-championship/

OCR Championships – http://ocrworldchampionships.com/

Until next time, keep running.
~ Ryan

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