Reader To Reader: Running to work

This week's reader wants to run to work, but what does he do with his suit? Here's what you suggested


Posted: 10 February 2007
by Jane Hoskyn


Running to work may be a time-efficient and cost-effective way to commute, but how do you get your work clothes to the office – and how do you freshen up once you're there?

"I'm currently looking for a new job closer to home. My aim is to reduce my commuting time, but also to run and/or cycle to and from work at least a few times a week. Even if my new employer has changing facilities, how do I get my suit into work when I run in, and not look like a tramp when I get there? I've searched the internet for a waterproof, backpack-style suit carrier, but with no success. Someone please hurry up and invent one so I can buy it off you!"Aberford Mark

Your best answers

  • Get an Eagle Creek clothes pack
    I cycle to work two or three days a week and run in my lunch hour. The commute is 11 miles each way, and the run 3.2 miles. I cycle with a backpack and use an Eagle Creek trouser/shirt pack thingy. You fold up your trousers and shirt using the supplied flexi board, place your clothes into the packer and slide it into your backpack. I do leave a pair of shoes under my desk. – Craig Llewellyn
  • Roll up your work clothes in a backpack
    I keep a suit and work shoes in the office. When I want to run in, I run eight miles to the station with my shirt rolled up in a backpack with pants and socks, plus a clean T-shirt to change into on the train and use in evening. I use a shower at work, but would go down the sink/wet wipes route otherwise. – ebenezer
  • Run home instead
    Why not just take your running shorts/tights and shoes in to work with you, then run home in your work gear? Then you could carry your work trousers home in a backpack and not worry about them getting creased, and put a cagoule on over your shirt. So what if it all gets sweaty? You can put everything into the washing machine when you get home. As for suits, have more than one per working week and take them to the cleaners at the weekend! – Ali Baby
  • Petition your work to provide a shower
    You should start a petition with the government about getting larger companies to provide shower facilities. Check out this site: Petitions.gov.uk. The company I work for provides showers for men, but not for women! – Lil Ms Squirrel
  • Keep a few spare clothes at work
    My desk has trainers underneath, trousers in drawers and shirts on hangers dotted around the office. I usually cycle to work and run either at lunch or home. If I run at lunch, it's a strip-wash in the disabled toilet! Go to work one day with enough clothes for at least two days. If you need a backpack, get a decent one with all the straps and support. – Jamie Leake
  • Run long at the weekend
    Keep shorter runs for weekday evenings and longer runs at the weekend, maybe a Saturday morning run and a Sunday evening run to give your body the greatest possible rest time in between. I don't think there'll be an easier solution untill you find that job closer to home, and/or with shower facilities. – Philip Hatton
  • Whip out a flannel
    In my old job, when I lived four miles from work in an urban area, I used to get the bus in and run home every day. I'd stick my work clothes in a bag on my back and leave my work shoes under my desk. Sometimes I'd cycle in and out, carrying stuff in panniers. There were no showers, but a flannel did the trick. In my new job, I work 22 miles from home, so I run in my lunch hour and am lucky to have access to a shower. – SJS
  • Get on your bike
    Carrying stuff on a bike is loads easier – I tried it whilst running and hated it. So I combine running and biking (bike to and from work, and run three lunchtimes per week). Each Monday I take a towel and trousers for the week, and every day I carry a shirt and underwear. I always leave shoes at work. – Kezz
  • Take your pick
    Some options...
    1. Run at lunchtime and use wet wipes
    2. Run when you get home and have a late dinner
    3. Have an early morning run (I'm still unable to do those)
    4. Adopt more flexible working hours.
    I'm London based, but with a two-hour commute. But at least I can run along the Thames some of the way home... beautiful! – Ginger Monster
  • Run from station to station
    My train to work stops at several stations on the way, so I get off at one and run to the next. That means different distances and terrain, depending on where I get off. You could even turn it into a time trial, and try and reach a station in time to catch the next train. – Quick Silver
  • Join a gym near work
    I leave a spare jacket and shoes at work, and run with underwear, shirt and trousers in a backpack. There are no showers where I work, so I've had to join the local gym. It's not exactly the cheapest option, but it means I get decent shower and changing facilities. The commitment is an incentive to run regularly, and in theory an incentive to cross-train... well, one out of two ain't bad. – Ivan Wadeson


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Discuss this article

Like many people I have far too much on in my life and running often comes off second best to my work commitments, family, and social life, but it shouldn't have to!

I currently work over an hours drive from where I live, so running to work isn't an option. However, I'd love to run at work in a lunchtime, but we don't have any changing facilities. Companies over a certain size are obliged to provide kitchen or catering facilities for staff, so why not shower and changing facilities as well. The government wants the nation to be healthier, so why doesn't it help us keep fit by encouraging us to exercise during the day. This is especially important in the winter when it is dark in the morning and evening, and if you live in rural community then there are no street lights.

Secondly, I doubt my first plea will spark any nationwide initative in the near future, so I am in the process of seeking a new job closer to home. My aim is to reduce my commuting time, but also ideally to run and/or cycle to and from work at least a few times a week. Even if my new employer have changing facilities, or they are near a gym to change in (thou rather expensive for just a shower), I'm still stuck! How, do I get my suit into work when I run in and not look like a tramp when I get there? I've searched the internet for a waterproof, back pack style suit carrier but with no success so far. I realise I could always take stuff in at the beginning of the week and be prepared, but this isn't very practical.

If someone hasn't already invented a waterproof, back pack styled suit carrier, then please hurry up and make it so I can buy it off you.

Many thanks

Mark
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 22:35

drive into work ... take suit and a couple of shirts

Run home

run in in the morning

Drive home

ad infinitum
Posted: 27/01/2007 at 22:40

But what if the car is needed for other purposes? You can't really just leave it over night elsewhere
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 00:45

Some ideas:

1) Persuade your boss to allow you to start a staff running club during lunch breaks and highlight the benefits it will bring to his/her business(increase productivity, team building, staff moral, less sickness etc)

2) Use wet-wipes instead of shower:)

3) Car share(one day someone picks you up and brings to to work then you run home and visa versa)

4) Go to bed early and get up early for a pre-work run

5) Go part time/job share/reduce working hours slightly.

6) Flexible hours (start a little earlier/later to cater for run in AM/PM)

7) Check out if any there are any local leisure centres that will allow use of there shower facilities(but this will ultimately cut your run time down and cost you extra)

8) Buy a treadmill

9) Light weight back pack with work clothes in a plastic bin liner double up

10) Offer to get the boss into shape and slowly brainwash them into becoming a runner, building shower facilities and purchasing running gear at wholesale prices through the company.

11) Change you life priorities (Family, running, friends and social life).



Good luck with your new job!



Posted: 28/01/2007 at 14:43

if its over an hour to work, that could be over 50 miles!! are you really expecting the guy to do an ultra once a week aas a run to work??!!! my best advice would be to keep shorter runs for the weekday evenings and then longer runs at the weekend, maybe a sat morning run and a sunday evening so that the body has the largest amount of time it can rest in 2 days whilst running both days. I dont think there's going to be an easier solution untill you find that job closer to home and with shower facilities. you never know, you might get a job with better hours and commitments meaning you have more time for your training
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 16:33

Depends where you live/the amount of traffic Philip; if like me you live in London it might take you and hour to cover the most shortest of distances in a car during rush hour; but I do get your point and your advice is good.


Posted: 28/01/2007 at 16:50

I used to work an hours drive from home, only 15 miles away.

When I got fed up of driving I used to bike there and back.
Once a week I would run one way and get a lift the other with my boss. It also helped that I had my own shower there and a locker to keep a clean uniform available at all times.
Posted: 28/01/2007 at 21:44

I Guess I must be really lucky as I only live about 2 1/2 miles from my work and am able to shower at work.
Only down side is I'm a girly and have to run past loads of paras to get work/home.

But a least it makes stop wanting to walk!
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 11:53

uniform muzzy?... oo get you ;-)
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 11:58

Take the suit and shirts in one day, then the rest of the week park the car away from work, run the rest, then run back to it on the way home...........Sorry can't solve the shower problem......perhaps just drip sweat all over your boss for the week, he/she might get the hint, lol
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 21:35

Yes Ed!
I used to look rather smart dressed in that uniform (Trent University Hospitality Dept). I'll have to show you the pictures one day.

I used to be a lot slimmer and fitter in that job. T'was the most stupid work decision I have ever made to leave there for my present job. I even used to get paid to go running during the day.
Posted: 29/01/2007 at 21:50

I also work an hour from home. I take clean clothes in on Monday, I also wear a uniform so its very easy, then I park the car a couple of miles away in B&Q's carpark, run to work and run back again. Its often quicker to run than to drive as the traffic is horrendous!!
No shower facilities unfortunately but it is surprising how effective wet wipes are..either that or people are too polite to tell me how much I smell! I don't sweat very much in this weather anyway.
Is there a disabled loo at your office that has a sink in it? You can always have a quick wash in that.
Posted: 30/01/2007 at 12:31

I leave my suits, trousers, skirts and work shoes at work and just take in shirts and underwear in on a weekly basis. They seem to get creased less when there are more of them. Some people suggest rolling your clothes as opposed to folding them. I also try to coincide my cycling to work with the carrying of my clothes. My colleague found an old locker which we share, any creases generally are gone from hanging up the shirts in the locker. My suits I take to the dry cleaners near work. I have a choice of shower facilities as I work in a hospital too.

If you are saving money on not driving I suppose you could use the money to get an ironed shirt service from a dry cleaners shop near your work.

Only downside of leaving work clothes at work is, if you do off-site early morning meetings. Solved by a spare suit and shoes at home for those days.

I know I mention shoes but that is what I have most trouble with as if I work late and I get a lift home I invariably forget and wear my work shoes home. This then means carrying them back to work.. I now have at work black boots, black shoes and black high heeled shoes, black sandles so if I forget my shoes one day I won't be in trainers all day.
Posted: 03/02/2007 at 20:55

I leave spare jacket, shoes at work and then run with underwear, shirt and trousers in an Asics running back pack. Means you have to plan your week carefully as to what spare clothes are left where and when.

No showers where I work so I've had to join the local gym. So not the cheapest option but means I get decent shower and changing facilities and then work into work in runners to put on shoes, jacket etc.

The commitment of paying monthly fee to gym is an incentive to run regularly. And in theory an incentive to cross-train too....well one out of two ain't bad.
Posted: 04/02/2007 at 09:32

Hi, I thought I'd chip in on this one, as it became an issue for me when the clocks changed and diving down country roads in the dark didn't really appeal to me.

I live about 6 miles from where I work, a nice distance for a trot but unfortunately we have no showers at work either and I don't like the idea of running in with all my clothes (+ vain girl items like facewash, makeup etc etc...) on my back (would be like a tortoise carrying its house on its back... and just as slow).

During the winter when it's been too dark before and after work I am able to take longer lunches (up to 2 hours) a couple of times a week and just make up the time elsewhere (shorter lunches, earlier/later start). I drive home, get a quick run in (anything up to about 45-50mins) then quick shower and back at my desk for a sandwich.

My standard hours are 8:30 - 5:30 but we finish at 3 on Fridays anyway so I can always run then, and then both days at the weekend, so I manage to get in between 4 and 6 runs per week depending on workload.

I think it's always worth asking about more flexible hours, perhaps ask for a later start time a couple of days then work through lunch/later at end of day? My boss runs too, so he can empathise with my need to get out there, which helps a lot.

I need fresh air even more in the winter when it's so dull, I just don't think I could cope purely on treadmill sessions (I am nosy as well and like to look at things when I run).

Hope you find a way around your problem!

Susie
Posted: 04/02/2007 at 10:11

Mark,

Similar situation and soon to be in reverse?
At the 1st job (5miles away, with shower facilities):Shoes and suit jackets always stay at work, so only trousers and shirt to carry.
In this job(13 miles away, no shower, 1hr plus in peak traffic) I have joined a council leisure centre in the town I work. They do not open till 7:30 but I start work at 8:30. So my solution. . . leave home at half past stupid, car loaded with suit (and all shower accesories!?)enjoy my planned run 1-2 hours, by that time they gym has opened and at 8 I go for the shower and into the suit.
Yes, this costs me an extra £25 a month but at least now I have no peak traffic/ road rage, I'm 'fresh' for work and I get to do this 5 times a week. Oh and if the weather is naf or want to do cross training I have gym membership.

My new job starts soon, which is 30 miles away (no showersbut again I have checked out the local leisure centre (like MS has said) and again it would seem my above approach is going to be the best way forward.
Posted: 05/02/2007 at 13:31

I must be the luckiest runner in the world. I'm a teacher and get free local gym membership as its attached to the school building. It has decent facilities as well - treadmills, bikes, steppers etc plus decent showers.

On top of that I've just found out that staff can use the almost new 8 lane 400 metre track as well. So all I have to do is bring a my running gear !!

I know - not lots of help if you are struggling to get a run in during the day but there are some jobs which do seem to compliment the need to run better than others. I feel incredibly lucky given the lenghts others are going to run - I'll certainly try to make the most of it.


Posted: 05/02/2007 at 15:31

I havent read all the replies, so apologies if I'm repeating whats already been written.

You need to run home in the evenings, and keep a suit and 5 shirts in the office at the start of the week.

Go to work in your home clothes with your runnig kit in your rucksack. Change at work in the morning.

After work, change into your running kit and run with your home clothes and that day's work shirt in your ruck sack.

And repeat.
Posted: 05/02/2007 at 16:36

I'm lucky in that we have lockers and showers so I just drop off the week's clothes on a Sunday in the car, take towel in the morning and towel and day's shirt etc. back in the evening. On Sunday change suit and repeat.

Also lucky to only live 2.5 miles away from work. And the maximum speed is 35MPH so run with a baseball cap light, reflective body strip and rear clip-on red light which seems to make me adequately visible.
Posted: 05/02/2007 at 20:46

I'm basically doing your second option. It's 7 miles from home to work for me through London. I cycle Mon/Wed/Fri and run Tues/Thurs. When I cycle on Mon/Wed I take enough clothes for 2 days. I have a spare toilet bag at work with everything I need to freshen up - although we do have shower facilities so it does make life easier...

You do have to be very organised and it can be a pain in the winter as I need to lug my coat back in on Wednesday's and Fridays.

I'm like a backpacker - everything in plastic bags inside my rucksack for my ride to work. Nothing has got wet so far...

It's a much better option than the tube though - takes 50 minutes door to door by public transport; 35 mins to cycle or an hour to run...
Posted: 06/02/2007 at 08:19

I combine running & biking. I bike to/from work and run 3 lunchtimes per week.
I leave shoes at work always.
Each Mon I take towel & trousers for the week.
Every day I carry shirt & underwear.
I could bring all shirts in on the Mon but I'm too unorganised.
Carrying stuff on a bike is loads easier - I tried it whilst running & hated it.
There is a shower at work too.

BTW - keep emergency socks at work - if you forget your underwear you can always go commando but work shoes with no socks looks stupid!!!
Posted: 06/02/2007 at 08:34

I run to and from work...get the tube in Monday and drop off shoes and trousers, then carry my shirt etc in daily, similar to Kezz.

Agree on the socks, also watch out for cufflinks, an emergency pair in your desk drawer never goes amiss!

Nothing like the knowledge that if you skip a run home then you'll have to skip the next morning's - gives you more incentive :)
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 08:41

It all depends on how far you're gong to work, if it's an hours motorway drive then there's limited options
1) Run at lunchtime and use wet wipes
2) Run when you get home and have a late tea
3) Early morning run (still unable to do those)
4) Adopt more flexible working hours

I'd stick with the option of changing job and congratualtions for prioritising health and life before work. Me? I'm london based but with a 2 hour commute !! But can nip off half way home and run along the Thames to get home ... beautiful!
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 09:19

Hi all

another slant on this ...i take the train in ...it stops at several stations on the way. So i can get off at one and run to the next ...different distances and terain depending on which one i get off at......for the committed you can turn it into a time trial and try and get to the destination station in time to catch the next train.

Down side is you arrive hot and sweaty - some stations have a WC where you can wash in the sinks (can be a bit cold and nasty).
Also not unheard of to get lost when trying a new route so have to be prepared to do a few extra miles.

up side is that you get to run lots of different routes. Reduces the hours spent communting and maximises the time spent running. Makes a "base" run into a bit of an adventure

Does take a bit of organising as you have to have the right kit in the right place at the right time.

and yes I do feel a bit sorry fo the poor soul that has to sit next to me on the train (in fact if i'm v sweaty I'll just stand in the bit by the doors) ....for extra bonus points you can do your warm down stretches in the gangway of the train ...but I've never had the nerve to take it that far. !!

Dave
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 09:27

Aberford Mark,

You should start a petition with the government about getting larger companies to provide shower facilities.

Check out this site: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/

The company I work for is somewhat sexist in that they have showers for men, but not for women!

I'm now lucky enough to work from home but it would certainly annoy me a whole heap more if I was in the office all the time.
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 09:30


SJS
For what it's worth:

Old job - 4 miles from work, urban area.
I used to get the bus in and run home every day (with clothes etc on back in bag). I used to leave my work shoes under my desk; maybe a little odd. Sometimes I would cycle in and out, carrying stuff in paniers. There were no showers but I found a flannel did the trick.

New job - 22 miles from work; I run in my lunchhour and am lucky to have a shower. But as I can only fit in 3 miles in my lunchhour, I am thinking of running part of the way home once it gets lighter. This would involve taking the train into work and then the train part of the way home, and then running the rest (leaving all my stuff in the office to take home another day).
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 10:54

Why not just take your running shorts/tights and shoes in, then run home in your work gear so you only have to carry a skirt/trousers home in a backpack? Won't look that odd if you add a light coat/cagoule over your jacket! So what if it all gets sweaty? You can put everything into the washing machine when you get home. As for suits, you really ought to have more than one in a working week then take them to the cleaners at the weekend!
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 11:18

I live over 50m from work. I keep a suit in the office plus shoes. When I want to run in I run 8m to the station with my shirt (rolled up - best way) pants and socks in a rucksack plus clean t shirt to change into on the train and use in evening. Use a shower at work but would go down the sink/wet wipes route otherwise.

In the evening it's run back or cab depending how I feel. I don't do it much in the winter though - instead I drive to the gym, run to the station and run back at night. It's just a q of sorting the logistics out (and having more than one suit)!
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 11:47

Why not run home? Obviously you will need to minimiset stuff you carry (or like me get a friend to drop your bag off!). At least that way you can shower/bath at your leisure. If you don't fancy running for more than an hour or more - could you catch the bus/train to nearer home and then run - getting off bus/train earlier each week to lengthen the run?
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 13:21

My desk has trainers underneath, trousers in drawers and shirts on hangers dotted around the office.
I usually cycle to work and run either at lunch or home. If i run at lunch then it's a strip wash in the disabled toilet!!! If i run work then i'm lucky as where i park my bike, a council bike shop cum bike park, and i'll have a shower there.
Running home means it's either the bus or run in the next morning. Its usually the former!!
Go to work one day with enough clothes for at least 2 days. If you need a rucksack get a decent one with all the straps and support.


Posted: 07/02/2007 at 13:28

Until a few months ago I worked 3 miles from home and would often run into work.

To be honest I found it really complicated, making sure that the right shoes, clothes, clean towel etc were in the right place.
I actually had to draw diagrams to work out where everything would be each day!!
I don't mind running to work in the rain, but hated putting the wet kit on again in the evening, so would always take extra running gear with me.
Anyway, enough moaning - it was definitely worth all the hassle - the day started well, got my exerise in, and could always find excuses to boast about it to workmates!

Now I work much further away and have to run before work, so was up at 5:15 this morning to run an hour. Not so much fun!
Posted: 07/02/2007 at 22:32

Hi
I leave all my suits at work and shirts and 2 pairs of shoes. I lugged them all in on the train once. I then dryclean them when they need to be washed. All you need to run in with is your undies and socks. I change back into my run gear to go home. It makes work feel like work and time at home rest time. I use a deuter back pack (i have 2 different sizes) and they have a wee raincoat that you put on to to them if it snows like today.
It seemed difficult to start with but now i am totally used to it and all my work mates just see it as my 'mode' of transport.
Pens
Posted: 08/02/2007 at 10:32

This seems like one of those logic puzzles where you have to get the lion, the goat and the oats across the river in the minimum number of trips!

I live eight (very hilly) miles from work, and I'd be happy to run one way (preferably IN, rather than BACK), but the catch is that there is no convenient public transport route, so I HAVE to use the car.

I suppose I could do:

Day 1: Drive in (leave car at work)
Run home
Day 2: Run in
Drive home
(Repeat ad injuriam)

The only trouble is that I would always *have* to do an eight-miler the morning immediately after doing another one - I can't choose to drop the "Day 2" run in, e.g. for a minor injury, as the car is still eight miles away!

Hmmmm.....

Mike


Posted: 08/02/2007 at 14:28

Don't do it. Get a bike and burn your way through the traffic to work and back - then when you get home, you're nicely warmed up for a run. Miss Neighbours/ The Simpsons/ Hollyoaks/ New at Ten (delete as appropriate) and off you go. Then the evenings your own.

Incidentially, I wear my shirt and trousers on the bike. They only smell after the ride home, but it has the added plus point of keeping Mrs.Chimps attentions away from me, thus releasing me to run out straightaway!
Posted: 08/02/2007 at 15:53

Get a smelly job like mine where I try not to contaminate my relatively clean running gear with my disgusting work attire. I have to wash before the run home at night.

My commuting run is at least 7 miles depending on route taken so its a little too far for everyday and both to/from journeys. PParticularly considering my job has a significant manual element to it.

I do the leaving stuff at work bit myself, but not the car. I do the opposite journey by train when I run. Is using public transport an option or do you not mix with the great unwashed?
Posted: 08/02/2007 at 22:48

Some interesting stories on how we commute and run.
My storey:
I live 4 miles from where i work.Ive been there 15 years but only started running 6 years ago.I see myself lucky not having to wear a suit,shirt and tie.I work on the shopfloor in a large car factory,so wear supplied overalls.The company provide personal lockers,changing facilities,showers for both male and female and and an up to date gym,all free to use by the workforce.
I combine running,cycling and a shared lift to and from work.As you can see I have the use of personal lockers to store any running,shower gear.
It suits me fine the routine ive got when im training for races.
My work also means im on my feet for almost all of my shift,so I drink lots of water and eat well all thru the shift.
Posted: 09/02/2007 at 13:34

I cycle to work 2 or 3 days a week and run in my lunch hour. The commute is 11 miles each way and the run 3.2 miles.

I cycle with a backpack and use an Eagle Creek trouser/shirt pack thingy. You folder up your trousers and shirt using the supplied flexi board, place your clothes into the packer and fold the four sides over which are velcro'd then slide it into your rucksack. People have actually asked how look so smart. I do leave a pair of shoes under my desk. I'd suggest having a couple of spare shirts/trousers in a spare Eagle Creek packer for the days you run in. We have a shower but I'd need innoculations to us it so I just freshen up in the sink of the changing rooms. No one has said I smell yet.
Posted: 09/02/2007 at 16:17

Here's the baby...

http://www.eaglecreek.com/accessories/packing_folders/


Posted: 09/02/2007 at 16:23

I also leave a variety of working clothes at work and then I just carry a clean top and undies in my rucksack.

I use a Karrimor Elite rucksack which is fantastic for running and I would wholeheartedly recommend it for the daily commute. Ialso use it for my long runs especially when I go off into the hills.

However, I mostly only run into work (about 6 miles) and then bus home, so I have to change back into my smelly running gear for the bus journey (which is probably really unpleasant for my fellow commuters) and carry the washing home. I top up the work gear when I remember but I have ended up having to go to the nearest M&S when I've run in and forgotten that all the work clothes are in the wash.

It's definitely worth all the hassle though. My route is largely off-road and the run in puts me in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day even if it's pouring rain.
Posted: 09/02/2007 at 17:03

2 days a week I run home after getting the bus or train into work. I leave my work clothes for that day locked in a large drawer or cupboard then take them home in my backpack when I cycle home the next day - unfortunately this makes for a fairly heavy backpack on Wednesday & Friday! Always leave work shoes locked away at office overnight. My office is fairly relaxed about clothes, so I can get away with jumper over shirt on the days I cycle in & clothes get a bit creased in my backpack! Running home has got to be the easier option!
Posted: 10/02/2007 at 11:41

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