Brandon's (and his family's)Big Adventures

We, as a family, press on towards the goal

Do you wear those shoes with the toes?

Posted on September 13th, 2011 by Brandon

Do you wear those shoes with the toes?

I get asked this question nearly every time I admit I run barefoot.  How did those shoes become so synonymous with running barefoot?  I do run in Vibram shoes once in awhile, but I really enjoy shoes with less support.  My favorite time to wear the “toe shoes” is when I am climbing trees and mowing the lawn.  I also plan on wearing them when I run a trail run in two weeks do the “Shoe Sucking Mud”.  I like my Soft Star Shoes too much to lose them in the mud. 

 I do like the fact that the shoes are starting to go main stream.  One of my favorite actors of the Lethal Weapon movies, Danny Glover, wore a pair of shoes recently in Francethat really ticked off the fashion police.  Read about their distaste for the shoes here:, Toe shoes, Danny GloverI don’t know about the “Evil Reign”, but toe shoes do stand out when in public.  While running or walking in them I get more questions about them then I do about barefoot running.  I enjoy the opportunity to interact with people about minimalist running, but it does get distracting.  Now if only Lady Gaga would wear them…

Food Donations are starting to arrive – Don’t miss out

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Brandon

Food Donations are starting to arrive – Don’t miss out

Flat River Outreach Ministries- Food Donation

Flat River Outreach Ministries- Food Donation

Greenville Food Donations

Greenville Food Donations

Impact Collections

Impact Collections

The food is starting to be arrive at the studio and be collected.  We are excited that over 3000 items were pledged to to local food pantries from Michigan to Texas and as far west as California.  It is not too late to get on board.  If you missed all the Facebook messages, Postings, and News articles, but still want to help you can.

1.  Donate to a local food pantry 50 items for the 50 miles I ran with my jaw wired shut and then let me know about it.
2.  $25 can buy 50 items, so you can send a check written to Flat River Outreach Ministries, and send it to Modern Photographics, 216 W. Main St. Lowell, MI 49331

Local food pantries close to where you are need you support.  Thank you for your support.

Just give it to HIM?

Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Emily


What’s keeping you from your dreams?  Just give it to him.  Anything is possible!!


50 Miles with my jaw wired shut- North Country Run Report

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Brandon

50 Miles with my jaw wired shut- North Country Run Report

It is possible to run 50 miles with your jaw wired shut.  Before Saturday I could only find one person who was rumored to run the Leadville 100 with his jaw wired shut over 20 years ago.  Going into Saturday’s race knowing that very few people would ever attempt such a challenge I had a lot of anxiousness.  Running 50 miles is tough enough.  Running with your jaw wired shut is very strenuous on the body.  Before Saturday, ten miles is the longest I had ran wired shut and that was in March.  My body had healed well from Burning River 100.  The furthest I had ran in the past month was 3 miles, and that was in a 5K just days after surgery.

Early in the Race- Still Smiling - North Country Trail Run 50 Miler 2011

Early in the race

Normally before an Ultra I like to rest as much as possible, but after driving for 2 ½ hours to the race sight Emily, Roger, and I helped in whatever way we could.  Putting up a tent, starting the generator, and hauling supplies to the aid station kept us busy till after 9:30pm.  The three of us stayed at one of Roger’s friends rentals in Cadillac which made for a quiet nights sleep.  Not sleeping on the ground meant more relaxed sleep.  The six hours of sleep was much better than last years two hours.

Waking up fresh and ready to run we arrived just in time to get a great parking space (still can’t believe no one else thought of parking there) and started to mingle with all the friends who drove in to race.  The Hobby Joggas were there: Mark, Tony, Stuart, Rick, and Ryan all ran the marathon.  There was a bunch of new faces with them that all looked happy and ready to run.  The marathon started about 20 minutes before the marathon and with a course change this year it would be common to pass many of them on the first loop of the 50.  After about a mile the marathon runners paced and it would be the only time I got to see Roger run and he was in the top three.  The small group of ultra runners started to line up.

Lining up towards the back of the pack was the only option for me.  I didn’t want to be passed by a hundred runners who were running for a personal best of the win.  My goal from the start was to finish.  Starting in the back is always better because the people back there are cooler people.  We like to talk, and we could careless what our time is.  We run to have fun.  So without any announcement that I could hear, we were off.  The first little bit was to the end of the parking lot entrance and back on the pavement to spread out the runners a bit.  It was only about a quarter mile total before hitting the trail, but in that short time I was picked out of the crowd by the brother of Kristen Armstrong, one of my brides from two years ago (Got to love Facebook).

Gnarly chilling in my pack

Gnarly chilling in my pack

The only bad/good part of being in the back when starting a trail race is the width of the trail and the pure volume of runners.  With over 150 runners starting together, the trail packed up really fast.  Its good when it does this because it slows you down, but bad because you almost trip over people.  Slowing down also leveled the playing field for all the “Open Mouthed” runners and myself.  I was able to keep the pace with them for the first couple of miles.  I ended up with a group of “Medical Misfits” for a few miles.  One guy ran with a heart that couldn’t get over 130 beats per minute or his oxygen level would drop to under 80 percent.  Another guy was running just months after a valve replacement.  Did you know they don’t use pig valves that often anymore.. who knew?  They felt better after finding out I am a paramedic, but didn’t like my response of who was going to give them mouth to mouth after I passed out myself?

Beautiful Manistee national forest trail- North Country Run 2011

Beautiful Manistee national forest trail- North Country Run 2011

Ultras are a small world.  After surging ahead on the flats I started a conversation with a very nice guy (Tom Coleman) who come to find out was neighbors to Tim Adair, the guy I ran 80 miles with at Burning River.  We ran for a couple more miles together before I told him not to wait up for me.  His goal was sub 10 hours and I was an anchor.  He ended up around 10:45, sorry Tom L.

The wheels started falling off around the 20 mile mark.  I wasn’t dehydrated, but felt like I was hit by a train.  I had been drinking Boost and V8 throughout, but they were not enough.  Leg cramping started around that same point and I learned quickly that if I drank a Boost right after they started the cramps would go away.  I started drinking more Ultra in my water and that didn’t help.  I wasn’t able to level out.  GU Energy wasn’t an option unless I wanted to be a sticky mess.  Something about a syrup dripping down your numb chin doesn’t seem very smart while running.

Now the wheels were locking up, and the mind was starting to give up.  I arrived at the half way point just emotionally drained.  I felt like I had run my first 31 miler in the mountains of California and the 100 miles of Burning River together and it was only 25 miles in.  My wife took the brunt of my frustration when the chair was nicely placed in the shade about 20 feet off the trail.  I didn’t like how far away from the aid station and my bag it was so I took it out on those who only cared about me and getting me through the race.  I quickly relaxed and tried figuring out how my wife did in her first half marathon.  I rather have talked to her and Roger all day then to get back out on the course.  I didn’t want to move.  My legs, feet, chest, and abdomen all hurt.  I don’t know whether I just got out of the chair, or what, but next thing I know I am moving back down the trail and that’s when I lost it.

Just 10 yards past the 25 mile mark I cried like a baby.  I couldn’t control it and didn’t want anyone to see me.  I just kept walking and praying.  The thought of quitting left my mind after I remembered my verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13”.  On I trudged.  Thankfully there were a lot of smooth up hills and longer down hills.  I had to walk more than I liked because my stomach now wanted to slosh around and try to make me throw up.  Puking with my mouth wired shut isn’t an option.  There were not a lot of runners passing me at this point, but one older man (Jose) stood out.  Him and I kept yo-yoing positions all day long.  I couldn’t ever really run with him because when I felt good I ran much faster, but when I felt bad, He would catch up and pass me.  I knew he was on the trail near me and he always had a kind word to say.

My Run Amoc Shoes for the first 38 Miles

My Run Amoc Shoes for the first 38 Miles

Roger ended up being one of my angels on the course.  He traveled from aid station to aid station making sure I was okay.  The sight of a friend at the aid station picked up my deepening spirits and gave me something to look forward to.  I ran much of the middle of this lap alone and it was tough.  From being sick with a stomach cramps to leg locking muscle spasms do to a lack of sodium.  I experience more lows and deep depressions then I ever imagined.  I continued on even though I wanted to quit.   Aid station 5/13 would be the last time I would see Roger leaving me 9 miles to run alone.

Shortly after passing station 5 my legs went into complete muscle spasms in the middle of an uphill.  I could only stand in the middle of the trail and hold a tree, praying for them to let up.  I had just taken a Boost to prevent another low.  I was feeling pretty good going into the hill.  Thankfully Roger remembered a Gatorade G1 Before supplement.  I took it just after my legs looked up and my legs quickly came back.  I started to run again on the downhills and flats.  I did my best to continue on and the distance to Aid station 6/14 went by quickly.  As I arrived I asked if this was the aid station that had new legs.  Lisa Fine a runner who I would spend the rest of the race with laughed and seemed to enjoy a little humor this late in the race.  I did my best to get any sodium in I could and drank fluid to keep hydrated.  I caught up to Lisa on an uphill between 14 and 15 and I decided to run with her instead of running by myself.  She was in bad shape when I caught her.  She didn’t even really want to run the 50 miler, but decided to late to switch to the shorter marathon distance.  The miles went by a little easier while running with her.  Through 15 and 16 we ran just trying to get to the finish.  Somewhere in this trek Ben VanSoose met us coming back from the Start Finish line.  I stopped to talk with him, and decided it would be better to run with Lisa and make sure she made it to the end.  Daylight was quickly leaving deep dark shadows on the trail.  Ben ran back to meet with another runner and pick up trash along the way.  (He is an amazing man, with a huge heart).

Lisa started to run a little bit more towards the end.  I was becoming very proud of a women who I had only known for 7 miles, but had a huge heart to finish a challenge.  My memory of the course from lap one helped keep us positive and I started to see cars and campers parked near the park entrance.  On we ran.  I started to push her to run.  Telling her we were going to run into the finish.  I started to hear the cheers as we rounded the last corner and Lisa started to run harder.  I just continued to push her and she responded.  It was joy to see all the people still there to cheer us on.  As we neared the line I let Lisa go for the finish.  She earned it by being there for me.  If it wasn’t for the new trail friend my last miles would have been a lonely trek of self pity and misery.  Till the very end I hadn’t even seen her face.  She had lead the way down the trail to the finish.

My wife Emily and my friend Roger were there to witness me finish.  The race director stepped in to put the medal around my neck.  I just wanted to cry.  Knowing at that moment I could do anything.  I didn’t do it alone.  My wife supported me more than I could ever repay.  How many wives would allow their husband to run with a wired jaw.  The support of my friends Roger, Chris, Phil, and Tim who were there to see me finish and support me to the car.  My new trail friends Lisa, Tom, and Jim were a huge support along the way.  The aid station volunteers who did a great job supporting me even though there was little they could do.

A very important Thank You to all the people who pledged to donate one item for every mile I completed.  The list has over 60 names from all across the country.  It amazes me the generosity of oters.  The food is now being collected and I hope all come through and at least 3000 non perishable food items can be donated.

Lisa Fine and Brandon Mulnix at finish of North Country Trail Run 2011

Lisa and I after we finished

Thank you for the prayers, and support!

Read about it in the Daily News or Washington Post

The problem with Barefoot Education – As seen on TV

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Brandon

The problem with Barefoot Education – As seen on TV

As Seen on TV
When it comes to sharing the benefits of living barefoot in today society there isn’t enough gimmick to it.  We have grown up in the “As seen on TV” generation and our brains are waiting for the next product to save our lives.  Who is going to create that Video that we all have been waiting for?  I have $19.95 waiting in my pocket to spend on it.  I might even spread it out over 3 easy payments, no hassle warranty,  or better yet a 90 day money back guarantee. 

or on the company’s homepage: Barefoot Science
This video shows excitement, passion, and a product that works (according to their marketing department).  Who cares if the product does what its supposed to do?  This video has crazy moving graphics, bright colors, loud noises, music, and they explain it in a way your 90 year old grand mother can understand. 

Come on Barefoot Ted stop running around all tipsy toed, making sadels, speaking at conferences,  and make the video.  Barefoot Jason you have a canny sense of strange humor that might be more Youtube than infomercial, but we need this.   The leaders of the barefoot movement are missing the point. The problem is  not whether each and every one of us can truly understand what is behind being barefoot,  its about Edutainment and Infomercials that sell us a product that you tell us are good for us.

3 Easy Payment LogoWhy would I want to read a book when I can learn how to do it with the video “7 Minute Arches” or why would I want to spend $90 on a pair of barefoot running shoes when they don’t have a 90 day Money back guarantee.  Its time to be a little more creative, the Tarahumara tribe is so last week.  You need to find the next group of people to take this thing to the new level.  How about the tribe of Little Old Grey Hairs that are hanging around right now waiting to call your operators who are standing by?

90 Day Money BackIts amazing it took this long to realize what was wrong with the Barefoot Education system.  Now it is your turn to do something about it.  I would help, but I can’t find my way out of the lazy boy.


I Challenge you to Match me! – Wired Shut will run for Food

Posted on August 21st, 2011 by Brandon
Will Run for Food

Will Run for Food, Will you Help me?

I Challenge you to Match me! – Wired Mouth will run for Food

This Saturday I will be running the North Country Trail Run a distance of 50 miles!  To make it even tougher my jaw has been wired shut to repair my jaw that was broken in a car accident back in February.  Running 50 miles seems almost impossible, but what is harder is waking up everyday not knowing how you are going to eat for the day.  With your help we can make it a little easier for people in need to have food to eat.

For every Mile I complete this Saturday I will donate 1 non-perishable food item to my local food bank- (Flat River Outreach Ministries)

The Challenge- For every Mile I run on Saturday, you will match my donation to your local food bank.

50 miles = 50 items!

Can’t afford 50 Items- then throw a counter challenge offer on the table.  The only thing that is important is the Food Bank!  You are not limited to living within our community.  There is a need across this entire country.  I just ask you throw down your challenge and have faith that I will do my part.  If you are with me please leave a comment below or let me know on Facebook.


My Journey to a Healthier Me! ~ Emily

Posted on August 20th, 2011 by Emily

My journey into running:


Old Emily - January 2009


In October 2009 I was in terrible shape tipping the scale at 243 lbs with a BMI of 44.4, size 20 and XL (both tight) and feeling very miserable.   Earlier that fall I signed up our daughter, Lily, for a kids marathon put on by Bagel Beanery along side the Grand Rapids Marathon.  In order to participate, Lily was to run or walk a total of 25 miles prior to the actual date, where she would be finishing her marathon by running the last 1.2 miles with all the other participants.  I was in no shape to run the 1.2 miles, but Lily was only 6, so I knew she’d be unable to run the entire thing, which would give me a chance to walk some.  However, I still did a bit of running to ensure that I’d be able to, at least, run a little bit of the 1.2 miles.  In my training prior to the kids marathon I got up to ¾ of a mile running straight before I had to walk for a minute or two.  That was pretty good, right?  I joined Women on Weights at the Lowell YMCA that included two miles of running on the sidewalks and I ended up with pretty severe shin splints that forced me to quit my running shortly after the kids marathon.  I was in too much pain to continue on that path.

I was extremely frustrated!  I had been told by my doctor that I would probably be overweight my entire life, I’ve had my thyroid killed twice and perhaps it was in my family genes to be overweight.  I was trying, as hard as I knew possible to lose but the weight never came off and now I couldn’t run myself thin either.  I finally decided I wasn’t going to believe that doctor and put forth a true effort, I was done being fat, uncomfortable, and feeling ugly. I was done. It was time for a big shake up!  I completely changed my eating habits, started counting calories on via my phone and the internet, and started moving more. Finally the weight started coming off, and over the course of about 8 months I lost about 60 pounds.  Some of those pounds came off easily but some then it started getting difficult and eventually I hit a plateau of sorts.  Something else had to change because my journey to being healthy hadn’t reached my desired finale.

I took up running again with Brandon (he had started seriously running to lose weight in January of 2010), but I absolutely hated it.  Again, I was in constant pain with shin splints, heel pain, and horrible blisters.  I went to Gazelles and they fitted me with orthotics and a nice pair of Brooks tennis shoes but the blisters from these shoes completely blew away any other blisters I’ve ever had (and yes, I wore blister proof socks too).  I ended up returning that pair (very thankful for Gazelles return policy because they weren’t cheap).  Then I noticed the new Vibram barefoot shoes and the way the heel on them was completely different than a heel on a traditional tennis shoe.  I wanted to try them. Brandon told me to educate myself on them and the barefoot running trend because, believe it or not, there was a time when Brandon was skeptical of the whole barefoot movement.  I spent several days looking up everything possible about them. (If you know me, you know that I want to know every possible option there is before making my final decision.) Although I really wasn’t fond of the attention I’d be getting from the fact they were quite ‘different’ I was willing to endure that unwanted attention to my feet instead of enduring the constant blister pain of my heels.

The first time I wore my new Vibrams I ran about a mile with Brandon and Lily and was completely amazed at how awesome my legs and feet felt.  It was completely different than wearing a traditional tennis shoe and best of all there were neither blisters nor any shin pain.  As an added bonus this run also gave me my first official ‘runners high’.  It was amazing to feel that good after running and feel like I could continue running even after finishing that first mile.

I absolutely loved my Vibrams but only wore them when I ran.  This was a bummer since they were much more comfortable than my traditional tennis shoes but I was less than fond of the attention they got since they were toe shoes.  So I endured the pain of traditional tennis shoes when I was in need of the ‘normalcy’ of shoes over the comfort of being barefoot.


My First 5K

My First 5K - California 2010


Brandon and I were going to photograph a wedding in California in the fall of 2010, what better time than then to finish my first 5K, for sure, a place where no one was going to recognize me. I was nervous that morning but I was going to do this.  I was one of the very few (not even Brandon had his Vibrams yet) to wear the toe shoes, and yes I got plenty of attention, but it didn’t matter since I finally ran and finished my very first 5K, and enjoyed it.

I was still not very fond of the attention that the Vibrams were giving me and then over the winter I ended up with pretty severe IT band pain from the t(d)readmill.  I thought that maybe a new pair of shoes would help with the pain I was enduring post running.  I knew there were many new barefoot/minimalist shoes coming from several of the large shoe manufacturers and had done plenty of research on the brands and styles coming out. I was very excited for ‘normal’ running shoes and as soon as the new Merrell Pace Gloves were in the stores, there was a pair waiting for me at Gazelles.  And MAN did I love them!  (Of course Brandon had to buy himself a pair also. He had converted to barefoot/minimalist running and bought his own Vibrams the day after the Grand Rapids Marathon.)  The Merrells were normal looking shoes and they were extremely comfortable with the same type of heel cup as the Vibrams, so I was pretty sure I’d be able to run and walk without any blister pain.  They are everything I’ve ever dreamed of in running shoes and I have taken the pledge to never go back to traditional shoes as long as I live, they aren’t worth the pain they cause.

To date I have lost about 90 pounds and I’m still going with a goal to lose another 25 pounds and be truly ‘healthy’ on all the medical scales.  I have run several 5K’s and a 12 hour endurance run in Rochester, New York where I finished 31.488 miles and Brandon finished 63.468 miles.  Together we won first place for most miles finished by a married couple, 94.956 miles.

I am a runner and I’m happy to proclaim it.  I AM A RUNNER!  Not only have I completed some of my own goals, I have also helped Brandon complete some of his largest running goals.  The most recent being 100 miles at Burning River in Ohio.  I ran with him for 3 miles on trails in the dark and 3.3 miles in the early dawn.  It was very exciting to be physically able to run along side of him and be considered a pacer during this huge accomplishment for Brandon. I won’t count anything crazy like a 100 mile run off of my ‘to do’ list, I’ve learned to never say never.

In fact, I’m excited to be signed up for the North Country Trail ½ Marathon in a week.  It’s my first ½ marathon ever.  I’ve also converted my awesome running partner, Sarah, to running her first ½ marathon with me in October at the Grand Rapids Marathon.  We’re on a pretty serious training schedule and have amazed ourselves at how we’ve been an encouragement to one another.  It is so good to have a running partner and encourager when things get difficult, and a new friend.

Over the past year and a half Brandon and I have inspired many people.  Our friends, family, and even people that we don’t know are watching us or hearing about our family.  They’re asking for advice, recommendations for gear, ideas for where to shop, what to buy, what to use and telling us about their journey to running or their healthier lifestyle and how they attributed it to our radical change.  It’s somewhat daunting to know that so many people are watching us and actually paying attention to what we’re doing to better ourselves.  It makes me more aware of the days when I mess up and the times when I notice my pants are a bit tighter than they were earlier.  It’s motivating to hear that people are amazed by our journey.

My transformation hasn’t only included my physical outward change, but something changed inside me.  I’m happier.  I smile more.  I enjoy life.  I’ve opened up and started to really partake in the life that’s going on outside of me.  I’ve finally got some self esteem that I’ve been severely missing over the past several years.  The real me has been hiding inside me underneath all the layers of fat, just waiting for her chance to live.  Now I’m really alive!  And it feels good to be alive!!  It feels great!!

There are days when I’m feeling ugly and fat. Those are the days that I have to remind myself that I’m wearing pants size 10/12 and shirts that are size S/M.  It’s those days that I have to look back through photos of the ‘old Emily’ to remember the way I used to look and the way I used to feel.  I believe I will always carry the ‘old Emily’ image in my head and continue to be the ‘fat’ girl forever when I imagine myself.  I don’t want to lose that image ever since ‘she’ had such an influence on my life.  I’ve learned so much from my past, all the good right along with all the bad, that I want to carry into my future.

God has truly been so good to us!!! Without him I would be nothing! 

Isaiah 40:29-31
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

New Emily July 2011

A 73 Year Old is training for Pikes Peak Marathon

Posted on August 12th, 2011 by Brandon

A 73 Year Old is training for Pikes Peak Marathon

Read the story here:

When I am 73 Years old I want to still being doing marathons, but to train for Pikes Peak at 73 Years old amazes me. I am less than half that age and thought for the longest time it was almost impossible to run a marathon.  This “Young Lady” proves its never too late to get into shape. Its never too late to accomplish great things. She might not beat Jesse Scott, but she will probably appreciate the race even more.

What would you think if your parent said “I am going to run a marathon!” and they haven’t done anything physical in years.  If my dad told me that I would be shocked.  He has a bad knee and his back is bad.  Could he do it?  Probably!  Would I be amazed?  Yes I would.

Who do you know that has done something amazing over the age of 70, 80 or 90 years old?

Hamster Ultra in New York City- Race Across the USA without leaving a city Block

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“Honey I am going for a run” – Ultra Marathon Husband
“Where are you going” – Wife
“Around the block” – Husband
“When will you be home?” Wife
“In 52 days!” Husband

This is how I see the conversation going in New York City. This ultra marathon looks awesome. I compare it to running on a hamster wheel. Around the block you go. The sights change a little every day, but the noise level, the people, and the food. I think I would rather run across the United States before I tried this. It would be a great challenge. As I look for other Ultra Marathons to do, there are many that blow my mind in how difficult they may be. This race would top them all. I wonder if the Hot Dog or other Street vendors would stop by while you are doing your laps so you could enjoy a Lamb sandwich!

What would be on your IPOD for 52 consecutive days of running around the block in New York City?

Reason to Run.. Kara Calley

Posted on July 26th, 2011 by Brandon

Reason to Run..  Kara Calley

As I write this post my heart longs for the Calley Family as they sit by the bedside of their infant daughter as she lays in a hospital bed clinging for her life.  Kara is the daughter of Brian and Julie Calley.  Brian has been updating us all afternoon via Facebook.  Kara has had two life threatening periods of Cardiac Arrest after being treated at the hospital during what was thought to be a routine procedure.  Over the past year Kara has had two open heart surgeries to help close the holes in her heart she was born with.

Just thinking about what Brian and Julie are going through makes me just want to run.  I don’t know what it would be like to be in their position.  I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to my wife or daughter.  I know I would probably feel the same.

My heart hurts for the Calley’s, but my faith is in God and his healing hands.  As I long to run I know it won’t take the Calley’s worry away for their daughter, but it gives me time to pray for them…

Brian Calley's, Daughter Kara

Brian Calley's Daughter, Kara


Update: Little Karagan Calley nearly ran herself out of the U of M hospital today with her Mom and Dad following close behind her!!!!  Praise the LORD!! Praise the LORD!!!

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