Category Archives: Shaun Roberts

Lowther Lakeland Fell and Trail Run, Near Penrith, Sunday, August 9, 2020

Shaun Roberts

Yes, it had to happen! Sooner or later actual racing was going to restart, and Martin Stone, well-known to fell-runners and those using SiEntries, was the man to organise it. This 13-mile race was set up as, I think, a bit of a test event, the first fell race since lockdown, and one to be observed by the FRA and others to check out Covid19 security measures. These involved using essentially a time trial format, six runners going off at a time at five minute intervals: 234 runners, taking all morning to get set off. We could choose our start time, and groups of up to six could ask for the same start to have a bit of a mini-race. No water stations, mask on at the registration and finish, and they asked for not too much hanging around before and after the race.

So, how did it go? Well the whole thing was organised superbly, and no one behaved stupidly, as far as I could see. The only people perhaps not socially-distancing enough were the quite large numbers of the general public also in and around Lowther Castle during the event – quite a few in the cafe courtyard – but the organisers had no control of that.

Race-wise, I set off pretty strongly, but had a taster of how the day would go when I found the long 3-mile climb out of Askham very heavy-going. I put it down to the heat at first (20 degrees at 11:00, then getting hotter), but as I kept taking little walks to get my breath back, it dawned on me that giving blood six days earlier was having an effect: I kept going ‘into the red’ far too easily. Once I realised this I could manage it better, and try and keep my effort (and pulse rate) down on the climbs. But it was much harder work on any sort of gradient than it had been just a week earlier.

I’d expected lots more overtaking, and being overtaken, than in a normal race, where runners essentially self-sort till you end up alone. But, though I did see more people, we were still pretty sparse. Nice route – a bit of everything, including lovely soft grass, some tarmac, some stony hard track, a long drag, a very big hill, a bit of bog … and a plodge through a river!

Very pleased to get back to the castle … took about two and a half hours, which was much longer than I’d expected, but it could have been worse in the circumstances.

A good crack! If this is the new normal for racing, it isn’t bad …

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World Transplant Games – Track Events, Gateshead Stadium, Thursday, August 22, 2019

Shaun Roberts

Gateshead International Stadium was the venue for the athletics at the Games … I had entered the 400m, the 800m and the 1500m, being the longest available distances. I’m not at all sure I have much in the way of fast-twitch muscle … but whatever there is I’ve tried to train up a bit over the last couple of months. Nonetheless, I approached this lot with more than a little trepidation … also: “It’s all about the taking part!”

1500 metres

Lovely race, with more action than I had expected. Andrew Lewis, another GB runner, and firm favourite for this one after doing very well at the BTG, lead off very firmly, followed by a good Irish runner. I tried to keep up with him on the first two laps, and he came back to me in the third, so I had hopes of a Silver medal. Not to be, though, as he had more left in the tank on the last lap, and went past me again. Good race, though, and I was delighted to get a Bronze, my first track medal at these games. Quite pleased with the time, too … 5m 54s.

400 metres

My 400-metre time really isn’t much to write home about, but at least this was a good race. The outright favourite was out in front from the start, followed pretty briskly by a South African, who seemed to be going well. Heading into the back straight, though, he seemed to be slowing down a tad, so instead of my cruising home for a Bronze medal, perhaps contemplating a wave to the Gateshead crowd, I dug in and tried to reel him in. On the line I was sure I was still half a yard down, but did a big dip anyway … and was amazed to see the results come through: I’d got the Silver by 0.08 of a second. Well-chuffed!

800 metres

Brilliant first lap! Was in the lead at that stage – pity they didn’t stop the race then … Slowed down somewhat over the next lap, and the two who’d been in front of me in the 1500m went past … tried to hold on, but one more overtook in the final straight (nice bloke, good to see him get a track medal, tbh), so no medal in this one. Probably good for my mental health, not getting a medal in each race! Pleased with the time, mind (2m 57s) … a recent PB, and nearly 30 seconds faster than three months ago when I was trying to qualify …

Overall, this has been a fantastic week! Good to come away with some medals (two Silvers and a Bronze), good also to be fit enough to give this a good go, and above all, good to simply be here. The atmosphere amongst the athletes and supporters has been amazing … everyone’s got a story to tell, and a lot of them are very, very moving. Great to have been a part of it.

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World Transplant Games – Bike Road Race, Hetton Lyons, Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Shaun Roberts

Baptism of fire in the road race on an undulating course at Hetton Lyons. This was a combined 17-lap race for all the 60+, 70+, 80+ men – first over the line sets the end of the race.

Pushed very hard at the start, but got dropped by a breakaway of six. Managed to keep my foot on the pedal for the full hour, though, and only the leading two got a lap on me. So ended up 7th of 24, which I was pretty pleased with, as there were some proper cyclists here.

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World Transplant Games – 5K, Town Moor, Newcastle, Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shaun Roberts

After the recent British Transplant Games, the very local World Transplant Games, within a couple of miles of where I spent quite a long time in hospital, couldn’t come soon enough. Good to start the week with the 5K, which I thought was my best chance of doing well, having picked up the Gold in Newport. The course was changed close to the last-minute, from, I think, the normal parkrun course, to a shorter version, two laps, due to a circus pitching on the route! Obviously, pretty flat … but there was a fair wind blowing …

photo by Mandy Dawson

I set off fast, perhaps a tad too fast – perhaps a bit too much adrenaline coursing through the veins. Was ahead of the firm favourite to win the MV60s after the first lap … but then flagged a bit. The last section into blustery wind was a bit challenging … and yet, my band of supporters (you know who you are!) told me I was still second, so I was more than delighted to come away with a Silver medal.

Whoop! Can enjoy the rest of the games now …

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British Transplant Games, Sunday, July 28, 2019

Shaun Roberts

When I was first diagnosed with leukaemia, early last year, little did I realise the long road ahead would end up at ‘Transplant Sport’ ! I’d never heard of it until I saw a piece on Look North about the upcoming World Transplant Games, which involves transplant recipients from all over the world, all competing together, but in separate age categories … and it’s all happening within a couple of miles of where I spent months in hospital.

So … I managed to get myself selected for TeamGB, running and cycling, and was ‘encouraged’ to also do the British Games. Off to Newport …

Cycling ‘Road Race’, Maindy Centre, Cardiff

The ‘road race’, had been planned to be up and down lanes of a car park, but when this was announced, with just a week to go, everyone was aghast. People thought all the bends dangerous, but I just thought it was naff. Anyway, helpfully it was quickly rearranged to be on Geraint Thomas’s childhood velodrome, with a lovely smooth tarmac surface, with gentle banking.

The format was 15 minutes plus five laps, in a race combining 50+, 60+, 70+ men. Think I can confidently say I cycled faster than I ever have before (ignoring Weardale downhills): my Garmin was saying 20-22mph most of the way.

Result: third in the 60s to win a Bronze medal! Whoop!

Purple and Green, and Bronze and Gold.

5K Run, Newport Riverside

The longest race distance at these games is the 5K, so was my best chance of a good run. The route was a pre-existing out and back parkrun course along a flat riverside path, nice surface. The only thing the organisers’ messed up was layering a 3K fun run on the top of it, such that the leaders encountered a mass of families with kids halfway back into town! Doh!

Anyway, set off at quick pace, and kept it together for about 2.5 miles, shouting ahead on the way back (politely, of course) for a bit of space. Well-pleased with the time (21’22), even if it was a bit flattering ( 3-mile course, I reckon).

Gobsmacked to find it was good enough to win the M60s … Gold medal! Whoop!

Track 800m

The first track race, next day, was a mere 15 hours after the start of the 5K, so legs were a bit heavy. Got properly warmed up after having various pulled muscles doing track training recently, then set off after the firm favourite for the race, and kept with him for … half a lap! Hung in there in front of the rest though, and was happy with the time: 3’04. Second place, and a Silver!

Once again: Whoop!! One more event …

Track 1500m

After a long wait (legs seize up, massage, snooze in van, wake up, warm up again) … my last event, late afternoon, was 1500m, against the same firm favourite as earlier, but with all the MV50s in the race as well. Race tactics? Push hard all way round and see what happens!

Seemed to work … finished fourth in overall race, second MV60, getting round in 6’09 … so another Silver! Whoop!

Well-chuffed with these games … some wonderful people, great stories, very moving at times, a fantastic supportive atmosphere … and to come back with a Gold, two Silvers, and a Bronze in the cycling was way more than I expected, and all a bit of a bonus. I’d like to put my feet up now, but there’s the small matter of the World Transplant Games in Newcastle next month

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DKMS Charity Relays 2018, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, June 23, 2018

24 hours

Clear skies and fine weather made for a great weekend of running round Aykley Heads. Unsung heroes saw the sun set and sun rise over Durham as they saw the event through from set up to strike down. 24 hours, and then some.

Shaun and Ros were there to open and close the event. I missed the start (I’d forgotten how steep that hill is up from Durham on a bike) so don’t have any photos of the beginning of the event

Jonathan writes:

“We had everything in place and were primed for the start.  I was going to lead the first lap in my DKMS shirt and we realised we needed a baton.  Thanks to the quick thinking of our President, David Shipman, a frog (fly-swatter) was produced from his camper van which we kept going every minute of the 24-hour period.  We tweeted updates every 250km run and we hoped to exceed 1500km and were delighted to hit 1725km but more importantly, to finish with Shaun leading the charge on the final lap – with an impressive sprint finish. We often say we are proud to be purple (our club colours) and this weekend was no exception.

We took a total of £1110 in cash donations. In addition Abbey’s Angels have paid £95 direct to DKMS.  Jan and Tony Young who provided endless cups of tea and coffee (and cake!) over the 24-hour period also raised £86 in sponsorship (plus Gift Aid).  The Just Giving campaign page is heading nicely towards £500 plus Gift Aid, so we should raise at least £1 for every km run! “

Some statistics (H/T Angela):

112 people ran
Total of 345 laps run (1,725 km)

Teams with most laps
1) Waldridge Warriers completed 67 laps
2) Long Slow Run Sunday completed 36 laps
3) Sisters with Blisters completed 31 laps
4) Abbey Angels completed 15 laps
5) Durham City Harriers completed 9 laps
6) Farmer Maggot and his/her Turnip completed 2 laps.

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Howgills Barn Weekend, nr Sedbergh, Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shaun Roberts

Yes, that is Angela in that thing.Many thanks to Nigel for once again organising a great weekend in the Howgills! And this time he organised some decent weather as well, which really helped. The north-east may have been lost under sea-frets from the east, but the Howgills were warm, dry and even sunny. The barn was all very civilised, and there was good food and crack on the Friday night. On the Saturday a decent group headed off to the west for the day, and seventeen miles of hills, including Randygill Top, Yarlside, Cautley Spout and The Calf, whilst three walkers had it just slightly easier, on a good day out.

The Howgills!

The new choice of pub, the Dalesman in Sedbergh was a good one, with great food and a good selection of beers: many thanks to Angela and Mike for driving the lot of us over there.

Lunch stop in an artwork by Andrew Goldsworthy

More good crack after that, then Sunday brought a now-traditional climb through the ‘Clouds’ (i.e. limestone pavements) and on up to Wild Boar Fell in balmy conditions. After a rest on the beach at Sand Tarn, we reached the top, with earily atmospheric views across the Mallerstang valley, through cloud and sun. Then down the hillside for bacon, eggs and beans, helpfully cooked by Mandy this time, standing in for our usual chef, this year sadly elsewhere. Great stuff … so many thanks, Nigel, for once again doing the honours.

Here are a few more of his excellent photos for a taste of proceedings … see link below for the full set.

Still snow up here.Setting off up Yarlside. Life's a beach.Scene at High White Scar.
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Durham Dales Challenge, Wolsingham and Middleton-in-Teesdale, Saturday, June 22, 2013

30 and 16 mile options

Shaun Roberts and Rachel Bullock

Shaun Roberts on the 30-miler …

I’d had my eyes on this for one for ages … it starts and finishes here in Wolsingham, and the closer bits of the route are ones I train over, so there’s really been no excuse not to have a go … except for that ’30-mile’ bit. I’ve never gone that far before, so despite my telling myself (and quite possibly some others) that there’d be loads of walking on the uphills, I was a bit apprehensive going into this. Loads of friendly Strider faces at the start though, some on the 16-mile option, some walking, some running. Talked to Dave Robson who’d very helpfully indeed passed on his Garmin route from a previous outing to a few of us.

So … the ‘mass start’ was a very low-key affair, with lots of walkers obviously not about to go eyeballs-out over the start line. Nonetheless, I thought I’d start pretty firmly, and ended up running up Wear Bank in a group of five. One idiot had a radio in the top of his rucksack pumping out inanities from a commercial station – how’s that for a great way to ruin a day out on the hills? I’d told Dave R I was intending to run up this steep first hill, which he was surprised at – I said it’d get me warmed up (it did!), and that it’d be the last steep slope I’d be running up (it was).

Onto the moors, and the other four went off ahead. Err, surely too far ahead I thought … shouldn’t we be turning left here pretty soon? Well, yes, so I turned left alone at the first checkpoint: the others had all been on the 16-miler! So for what was genuinely the first time ever, I found myself leading a field. Small matter of having to do all my own navigation (doh!), but Dave’s course on my GPS was reassuringly telling me that I was on track, so onward and upward. Approaching a stream crossing a group of other runners did catch up, which was probably a good thing, and we headed into Hamsterley Forest more or less together, and I lost track of where I was in the field. The rain, by the way, was coming and going, and my jacket kept coming off and going back on again … this kept happening all day.

Navigate for 30 miles?? What could go wrong ...

Now, I won’t trouble you with the remaining details of each piece of bog we crossed, each stony track we walked up, each stretch of heather we picked through. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of these and more in the 30 miles between Wolsingham and Middleton-in-Teesdale, and with the weather not being great, the views weren’t as good as I know they can be – ok for running, though, tbh. Great to get to each checkpoint for a drink and as often as not a choice of cakes. But it was really nice to eventually make it to the checkpoint on the B-road over the moors, after which I was on very familiar territory, and could imagine the end. My quads were absolutely screaming at me by now, really aching for some reason … though the heart/lungs were going ok. What was really nice along here was being in a group of four, sharing the navigation, having a bit of a natter, and generally keeping each other going. Heading down into Weardale, a lad from Darlo and I pulled away a bit – I’d been helping him out with the route-finding, as he’d turned his first set of instructions to paper-mache, not having them protected, and was close to doing the same to a second set!

Thought I was going to have to walk/run the last bits, but kept plodding on as my last group-mate went off ahead. Delighted to make it back into the school in 5 hours 42 minutes, where they told me I was third! The Darlo lad had come in second, and only Nick Spencer of NFR had gotten away at the front earlier on. Giddy heights, eh? Dave and Mel got round in 7h11m, over an hour faster then the last time he did this. Dougie finished in 7h34m, which he was well-pleased with having contemplating dropping out with blister problems, and Angela & Sue took somewhere round 9hr 23min – so everyone got round ok in the end.

My overall impression of this one is that it was bloody long! Good to have done it … but I’m looking forward to something a tad shorter, such as the imminent Saltwell Fell Race.

… and Rachel Bullock on the 16-miler:

This was the first time I’ve done an event like this. Jules, Dave and I set off as ‘Team Cripple’, all of us having various ailments, but we had signed up for this ages ago, and I had been really looking forward to it, so there was no way we were backing out. The course was ideal for a first-timer, very few hills, fairly gentle terrain and easy to navigate. The checkpoints were the highlight for me; well-stocked with goodies – loved the ginger cake!! They made the route pass much quicker.

For what we are about to receive ...

We saw plenty of Striders around the course – Jan, Laura and Anita, all of whom had great runs – Laura in particular looked very comfortable and much more competent at following the instructions on the route sheet than we were. Seeing as Jules and Dave had already recce’d the route, we completely neglected the instructions sheet, which resulted in us missing three of the checkpoints!! But I promise that we did cover the full route!! I just blame missing the checkpoints on the fact that I had removed my glasses due to the fairly persistent rain between miles approx 5-10, or maybe due to Dave’s affinity to taking shortcuts. Lessons learnt for next time! But anyhow, we cannily managed to bag the checkpoints with the good food 😉

The only other issue on course was the bull, but after Jan had wrestled it to the ground, we pushed on towards the finish. The pie and peas (and more cake) provided afterwards were the perfect end to an overall really well-organised and friendly event. I’m sure it would also be very beautiful in sunny weather! I was also really pleased to have covered a greater distance than I have ever run before on zero training – for this I thank Dave and Jules for the great company! (And the checkpoints for the great food!). Although as I write this I can safely say that I am paying big-time for the zero training. Ouch.

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The Yomp Mountain Challenge, Kirkby Stephen, Sunday, June 2, 2013

23M / 4,000' (with 11.5M and 6.25M options)

Shaun Roberts

aka Mallerstang Horseshoe & Nine Standards Yomp

Well, what a difference a year makes. A year ago the marshals were freezing on the hills as the wind tore into their tents. This time round it was bright and sunny, and looked as if it could get seriously hot later in the day, though a bit of a breeze up on the fells made it all very pleasant to run in. Last time around, I’d just done the Half-Yomp, whilst Angela and Sue, as well as our visiting young Turk Yusuf, took on the full thing – about time for me to have a go …

Managed to get over to Kirkby Stephen in time for a nine o’clock start (you choose your own start time, between 8:00 and 10:00), only to see that Angela and John had already set off, as had Paul Evans and Anna Seeley. Off I went, out on the road heading south – before turning off across country, for the long climb up towards the Nab and Wild Boar Fell. The legs felt a tad heavy, and a few small muscles were twinging a bit – something to do with Netball the day before – but within twenty minutes all that had sorted itself out. After three miles or so, Angela and John came into view and we exchanged pleasantries … they were on a 100%-walking strategy, and they were going to stick to it. Onwards and upward … bit of a walk, bit of a scuttle, that sort of thing, gaining height … and Sue Jennings also hove into sight. She was running on her own this time round, and was looking good so far.

Finally it was good to emerge on the flat top of Wild Boar Fell, and I got to the trig point in 1:18. Then a lovely run down to a bit of a ‘saddle’ before another climb up to Swarth Fell, and some more good running to Swarth Fell Pike. Then there was a bit of a knee-knocking descent to get down to the bottom of the Mallerstang valley. Half-way down was Anna, quads suffering a bit from her 31-mile effort the week before … a quick few words, down into the valley, and then up again, in a long series of drags with the occasional flatter section, that took us eventually up via the Riggs to High Seat and High Pike Hill. Three hours in, now, as I came to another steep descent to get to the re-joining with the Half-Yomp route at Tailbridge.

Plenty of climbing on offer ...

So far so good. Felt ok … the usual mix of normal and caffeinated gels was doing the trick for me … so now for the mind games. I started thinking of how fast the descent was from the Nine Standards last time, and was it, perhaps, possible to get back to the finish in under four hours? Why do we do this sort of thing?? A good run would still be a good run whether it’s just under or over some round number, so why do we torment ourselves with this sort of crap?? Especially, in my circumstances, when I’d inconveniently forgotten the considerable climb to get up to the Nine Standards! Met Dougie and Roberta along here – they’d opted for a sensible walk over the Half-Yomp route, and I didn’t blame them – the views were absolutely fantastic in the clear air. So, to the Standards in 3h30, and again, I’m thinking about that round number. It wasn’t going to happen, as it seems that a long four-mile hammer down a hill when the quads have done 19 miles is a completely different proposition to doing it after 7! The hard stony bits felt very hard, and the tarmac seemed to go on for ages.

Good to get back into Kirkby Stephen in four hours and five minutes. I was well-pleased with that, as it’s a similar distance to Swaledale, but way more boggy, and also with more ascent. Saw Paul at the finish – he come fourth, which was a great performance. Unusually, he looked knackered, but explained that his youngest was keeping him awake at night! Sadly, Angela and John were also there, as they’d had to pull out at Aisgill due to Angela’s back giving her problems. Anna came in later on, as did Sue, a good ten minutes faster than her last outing here.

This one is only six days before Swaledale, so I’ll have to see how that one pans out (next year I may have a go at the Howgills Marathon that Dave Robson reported on a week ago). But this is an excellent trip out on the hills, as is the shorter Half-Yomp version. Well worth a go, and you can enter on the day … or not, should the weather be awful.


Full Yomp
Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Patrick Hanna Howgill Harriers M 3:13:16
4 Paul Evans M 3:35:20
18 Shaun Roberts M 4:05:22
22 Emma Wood Unattached F 4:09:49
99 Anna Seeley F 5:40:54
131 Sue Jennings F 6:24:35

189 walkers and runners finished, 7 retired.

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Calderdale Relay, Halifax, Sunday, May 19, 2013

50 miles

Laura Garnham and Shaun Roberts

Laura Garnham …

The Calderdale relay – I didn’t know a huge amount about it, other than I had agreed to do it. Well, I was promised good scenery and free food and that generally tempts me.

Most of us (bar Will, Till, Bill, Mike H and Paul E) went down on Saturday and along with Pam went out in the evening for a curry. (Apparently Halifax is famous for its curries, honestly I just thought Halifax was just a branch of bank … next someone will tell me that there is a small town called Barclays in Sussex that makes a cracking fish pie).

On Sunday morning we woke early (Dave’s brother and his wife Lyn had kindly put Dave, Shaun, Nigel, Jan and I up for the night and even provided breakfast which I’m sure everyone appreciated) to get Nigel and Shaun to the start of the first leg in time. We managed to catch up with them a few times where the route intersected with the roads, and cheered them on (in fact most of the day consisted of cheering, for pretty much everyone who ran by, all in all a very good atmosphere).

Bill and Mike fuel up before the start of Leg 5.

Jan and I ran the second leg up to Stoodley Pike (that’s its name in my head at least) and some hill I now forget the name of. It was a very enjoyable run, plenty of water and mud, which I see as a good thing, some rather spectacular views, and a random lady gave me some jelly babies half way round, small acts of kindness and all that, can’t complain! I think it was about 10 miles (not sure how long it took us, I still haven’t got round to getting a watch). [1:34:02! Well done! Ed. ] Jan was a fab running partner and we pulled each other round well, I can get ahead a bit on the uphills but she flies down them while I try too hard not to be going down on my backside. I remember something about running like a duck being suggested, ducks obviously being well known for their downhill running style … though I’m sure it was helpful information. [You can rely on Jan for this sort of thing. Ed. ]

Once finished we got free hot showers (luxury!), changed into clean shoes and clothes (more luxury) and set off to catch up with and support everyone else on their legs. The only people I didn’t see on the day was Paul F who I think ran leg 3 with Dave, I’m sure he won’t mind but I have eaten his slice of cake. The day finished sometime after 3 with Mike B and Till completing leg 6 (which looked very scenic with canals, blue bell woods and wonderful views, but all paid for by a hill that seemed to take ages even to drive let alone run up!)

We were then able to trade our numbers in for a meal, pie and peas and mint sauce, which I didn’t have but everyone else seemed to enjoy. There were also free hot drinks, but no water (which seemed a bit daft, generally people finishing a run don’t crave a cup of tea … or maybe they do, I’m not a tea drinker so I wouldn’t know). We headed home soon after that and I hope everyone had a relaxing evening. All that remains is to thank Dave for getting us organised, Nigel for giving me a lift down and back, and Jan for kitting me out with all the equipment, and say well done to everyone who ran, from the looks of it we all got good times!

Paul and Will glad to finish Leg 4 ... ninth fastest time for this leg, btw ... yes, Jan was everywhere.

Shaun Roberts adds:

Many thanks to Dave Shipman for masterminding yet another epic outing to the southern reaches of Yorkshire for this superb relay event. Thanks also to his brother, John, and Lyn, for very hospitable bed and breakfast facilities, and to everyone supporting at many locations round the course … all much appreciated! As was the excellent curry the night before …

I recommend a look at Nigel’s excellent photographs (link below), which give a good feel for the day, should you be thinking of having a go next year.

Thanks Dave!

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