Race Review: Scioto Bank Vancouver Half Marathon

Just over a week ago, I took a weekend trip to Vancouver for a weekend get away, which of course, involved some running. Or maybe, I just went for the race itself! I ended up covering a shift at work the Thursday before I left, which when you have a flight at dark o’clock, you completely bail on a workout the night before.

I arrived in Vancouver just before 9 AM and took the transit downtown. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and walked down to the Vancouver Convention Centre to the Expo. The expo was actually pretty small. Easy to walk in, show ID, pick up your stuff and out you go. They had Asics, a running shop and some small tables selling gels. Shirts were on the small size, but they worked. After  I left, I found some lunch and went back to the hotel to change and head out for a run. It turned out, I ran the last part of the course, which was nice. Saturday was spent doing some shopping and hanging out, for the most part.

On Sunday, I was up around 5 AM. I made the mistake of not getting a shuttle ticket from downtown to the start and by the time I realized it, it was sold out. I took the metro a few stops and picked up a bus to UBC, where the start of the race was. The bus was entirely runners and it actually made finding the start fairly easy. There were plenty of porta potties at the start, which is a plus and I was able to get through fairly quickly. We waited around quite a bit before the race started at 730 AM.

The course itself was flat with some downhills. The downhills actually helped me pick up some time to bank for later. the first 1-2 miles wasn’t much in terms of view and doubled back on itself. Afterwards, you got some pretty nice views of Vancouver. There were pacers, but I feel like I couldn’t find them. Some supporters were out there, but you saw most of them the latter half of the course. In general, I loved the course, though some of the roads needed repaved. After we crossed the bridge into downtown Vancouver, minor uphills, but nothing to complain about. I was on pace for sub 2 hrs again, but it got fairly hot pretty quick and I ran out of steam. Part of the issue was that water/gatorade was only offered every 3K (1.8 miles). I feel like some stations were further apart than others, but what can you do. Finish was in Stanley Park. Plenty of food and water, though I wish there was chocolate milk to boot. There was a station to check your time and other areas to get your gear if you checked anything at the start.

Afterwards, I walked backed to the hotel, all nearly 1.5 miles of it because there were no easy buses to take back. At least it was nice out! Overall, a great race with great views and one to do if you’re in the area

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Race Review: Chilly Chase 10K

This weekend, I was in Vancouver. It was a get a way I set up over Christmas, just because. I figure I’m close enough and it’s a quick flight when Alaska Airlines is running on time. 45 minutes from Spokane to Seattle and 30 minutes from Seattle to Vancouver. After I had booked plane tickets, I did what any runner would do and look for races. I found the Chilly Chase race on Try Events Canada and ended  up signing up. Since I had a 1 PM flight back to the states, it really dictated the race I signed up for, as the start time was 9 AM.

I got into Vancouver Friday afternoon, though late because of plane delays. I checked into my hotel and then explored Yaletown. I ended up going to a spinning class at Cyklus in downtown Vancouver, showering and heading off to the Canucks-Panthers NHL game. Saturday, I explored downtown, did some shopping and took advantage of Dine Out Vancouver (the equivalent of restaurant week from what I could gather). I didn’t realize until Friday Night that I could have gotten my bib and packet at a place close-ish to my hotel. The place on Saturday was 10 miles away and there was no way I could get there. I ended up going with the race day pick up option.

I showed up race day around 845-850 to the starting area. The race started/finished along the Seawall and had pick up in a rec center. I was able to get my bib and socks without issue, but just be mindful that race day pick up for Try Events is $5 CAD. I gotta appreciate the race taking my $5 USD, because that’s all I had! I didn’t realize until after I was in Seattle on my way back to Spokane, that I had informally met fellow Bibrave Pro Brie at packet pick up (we were both a bit frazzled with race stuff in different fashions). I pinned my bib on and attached my running chip to my shoe. Yes, one of the old school chips that gets returned at the end of the race type of chips. Instead of the standard shirt, we got socks that were pretty cool too!

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Talk about old school timing chips

The race had 4 distances: Half marathon, 15K, 10K and 5K, so you really had a lot to choose from. Vancouver in general, doesn’t get snow and the winters are mild by Canadian standards, so being able to have a race with multiple options is huge. Since I was dealing with a tight flight connection, I ran the 10K, but I wish I could have at least done the 15K, if not the half marathon.

The course was out and back on the Seawall. The start was staggered, starting with the half, and then separated every 3 minutes. The 15K went next, followed by the 10K and 5K. Each distance had their own bib color (Blue, Red, Green, Orange). It was a flat and fast course and primarily on paved running paths. Any bikers had their own separate paths, though we were mingled with runners and running groups that weren’t involved with the race. The only spot I was unsure of was the area around the science center because it was a different type of surface.   Overall, though, no cars to worry about, overcast but dry. The rain came well after the race!  Water was every 1.5 miles or so, around the turn around points. The course was well marked, with people at major areas, and other areas with arrows or tape that marked off where to go/not go. This was a bare bones type race, which on this particular weekend, I was ok with. It let me get into my own head and get a good longer run in outside, since Spokane has been snow covered most of the winter. I finished in 1:03:03, not bad for me I think.

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I finished around 10:10. I was able to grab a banana and make my way back to the train. I took it back into the city and bolted back to the hotel. I was able to get a quick shower before heading off to the airport. I got to the airport around 1145 and through customs by noon and to my gate about 10 min before boarding. I don’t recommend that and thank goodness for global access. I can’t wait to be back in Vancouver this summer. I’m signed up for the Sciotabank Half, which hopefully will provide some good weather!

Bibrave Race Review: Kalakaua Merrie Mile

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Kalakaua Merrie Mile to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The Merrie mile: the first race of the weekend for the Honolulu Marathon. Surprisingly, it was also my first mile race ever. How I’ve never done a mile race (one you’d pay for, not in high school), I’m not sure.

The expo: bibs had to be picked up either Thursday or Friday since there was no race day pick up for the mile. After showing ID, you got your bib and shirt before going into the expo. Anyone could run the mile, even if you’re running the marathon (because let’s face it, we’re crazy). Well run expo with everything in English and Japanese.

Friday night, I had my stuff all prepped. I split a room with Erin, a fellow Bibrave Pro. We had to figure out what time to get up and be out the door by, where to meet other pros who were also running (Eric who ran and Chris who played cheer squad) and all the fun stuff. Because of my job, I set obnoxious alarms, so Erin had no need to set her alarms (sorry!).

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We woke up around 530 and headed out around 6 AM towards the Honolulu Zoo. Read, we followed the bunches of runners heading out bright and early for a quick mile run. We got there and met up (briefly) with the race director and then found Chris and Eric. Eventually, we went to our corals: Eric was in the first wave due to his super speediness, I was in the second and Erin was behind me. Each wave went off every 3 minutes. The Star Spangled Banner played followed by the Japanese National anthem and the waves started going off. I was off at 703 with my wave of people. The course was out and back down Kalakaua Ave, so I was looking for Eric during the out portion. It was a flat, fun and quick course and felt like it was over just as fast as it started! The street was lined with people cheering or just coming out to see what was going on. After you finished, you received a medal and were led to refreshments. I caught up with the other pros and we hung out and waited for the pro race to start.

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The pro race started after everyone else had finished. 5 men, 5 women and over in 4 minutes, 30 seconds or less. It was set up where the women started first and 27 seconds later, the men went off to see if they could catch the women. It turned out, Edwin Kiptoo of Kenya caught the women and won with a mile time of under 4 minutes, the first time in the state of Hawaii. Women placed 2nd and 3rd which was pretty cool.

Overall, the race was really well run for an Inaugural Race. I think it goes in part to the fact that the Marathon’s been going on for 44 years. However, a few minor things to work on for next year: the end and food area was overly congested. The line was so long, some people gave up waiting. It would have worked out better if there were more stations set up for people to go to. Additionally, there was no corral separation at the start or clear indication for where corrals started. It would have helped to have something set up to match each colored corral just so things weren’t as confusing. Overall, a good race though! Maybe next year, Honolulu can think of a mile/marathon challenge, as there was a good amount of marathoners who did the mile as well! Head over to the results page to search your mile time

 

 

 

 

Race Review: Surf City 10 Miler

It’s been 3.5 years since I’ve been to the land of Surf City and in my training quest for the Honolulu Marathon and the need for a weekend get away, I headed off to Huntington Beach for the Surf City 10 Miler. It’s put on by the same people who run the Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon in February (which I’ll also be at!).

I left Friday Morning after a whole 4-5 hours of sleep. The joys of working until 1 am and not falling asleep until 2! Being 15 minutes from the airport is a godsend. I flew into Long Beach Airport (by way of Oakland) and drove about 30 minutes to my hotel and was thankful to miss LAX. After checking in, I headed out for a run to stretch the legs and enjoy the 70* weather, this a stark contrast from gusty winds and 40-50* weather in Spokane

Weekend in Cali

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After a shower, I was off to dinner at wine bar down the road and then some time exploring. I may or may not have found a road runner sports and 2 pairs of running shoes…

Saturday, I went to the Expo and picked up my bib and shirt. Surf City is the only race I’ve done where you can get away with having a race expo outside without issues.

Pick up for @runsurfcity 10 miler 😊. I'd love the 👚 more if it weren't pink! #runchat #bibchat

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A good amount of vendors there, including a running shop where I got a pair of shorts, a pair of spandex and a pair of capris for $70 total (less than the total of the capris!). After finding lunch, I relaxed at the hotel before heading off to church to some some prayers an OSU win and good running weather. What’s better is they also had race day pick up!

Sunday was race day and I was up bright and early. After getting ready, I drove from the hotel to the race start (so much for Uber or Lyft being up and ready at 630 AM). I was to the start by 650 and we were off running at 7 AM. There was the option for the 10 Mile, 10K or 5K. The course itself is out and back with parts that are similar to the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon. Even though it was cloudy, it was still humid out. Fairly flat with the beach and ocean as your scenery. I thought the water stops were every mile, but they were spread out further than expected (at least for me). shortly after 5 miles, we hit the turn around and were coming back. About 7 miles in, we joined up with the 10K runners and with 1.5 miles, we were picking up the 5K runners. I don’t mind starting first, but part of what I had issue with is the weaving in and out of walkers for the 5K/10K. 10.25 miles later, another run was in the books

The post race bling was awesome, as to be expected for anything Surf City. Post race, food, chocolate milk and water was available. The expo was still up and running.  I walked through briefly prior to heading back to the hotel for a shower and then to find lunch.

I flew to Spokane Sunday night and had fun getting through Long Beach Airport Security. The race medal led to my bag being checked. It got wiped down and set off the alarm that TSA uses to test for whatever they test for, which led to everything getting searched and me getting a full body pat down. Lesson learned, take the medal out of the luggage, just to be safe.

Marathon training continues and Surf City played into weather conditions for Honolulu in more ways than one!

 

Bibrave Race Review: Equinox Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry into the Equinox Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This past weekend, I got my first weekend away in a long while. I sat for my Internal Medicine Certification Exam on Thursday and promptly celebrated with a ‘racecation’ to Ft. Collins, CO for the Equinox Fall Half Marathon.

Friday afternoon (after much needed sleep and cleaning my house), I flew out to Denver, rented a car and drove an hour to Ft. Collins. I stayed at a Candlewood Suites Hotel, because I still have the resident mentality of where’s the cheapest place to stay. Plenty of space, cable TV for plenty of football and nice people. I found a nice little place called Domenic’s a mile away and went for dinner (if you’re visiting Ft. Collins or live there, go check it out on Harmony St, the Pork Belly appetizer was amazing!).

Saturday morning, I drove down to Loveland for the Kickin’ Kawasaki 5K (different blog post for a different day) before heading to the Loveland Outlets to do mandatory shopping. It’s always a plus to find your running shoes $40 off and some running stuff you don’t need, but convince yourself that you do! Afterwards, I headed for a shower at the hotel and to a sports bar to watch some college football.

Packet Pick Up: fairly small and only from 2-7 pm on Saturday at Sierra Trading Post. The location of it wasn’t the best- it was in a mall type location so parking was limited. It reminded me of why I hate mall parking lots. You also had the option to get your packet mailed to you for $20 or reserve your packet for pick up on race day for $10. All runners received a long sleeved 1/4 zip jacket, however, I was seeing some people not get theirs, so I’m not sure if there weren’t enough and they’d get them mailed to them. The one issue I had with the bibs is that the timing chip was literally taped to the bib (and by taped I mean packing taped). When Sunday rolled around, some people found their bib had no chip attached to their bib. There wasn’t a real expo sort of speak, since there was less than 800 runners for the Half Marathon

The swag of @greeneventscolorado fall equinox half #bibchat

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Race Day

Come Sunday, I woke up bright and early and wanted to throw my phone against a wall a few times. After getting changed and ready, I drove over to Pourde H.S. and parked. Since the race is point to point, runners are bussed to the start, which was at the Mishawaka Amphitheater, a good 45 min drive from the High School. Buses ran from 6-630 from the HS for the half marathon and a little later for the 5 K, which started around the 8 mile mark for the half marathon. No one could be dropped off by personal vehicles and one spectators could be on the busses. After arriving, I dropped my bag in bag check (which would bussed to the finish) and used the port-a-potties. There was also water and coffee available for runners. I met up with fellow Bibrave Pro Katherine and we chatted up until the start.

The Course

The race started right at 8, no frills or fan fare to it. Katherine and I separated and off we went. The entire race is downhill, which is nice when you have minimal training.  The course is very scenic and I can see why people like it from that aspect. Having no phone service made it nice to get  into the grove of just running. The first 2-3 miles we had one lane of road to work with, but afterwards, it narrowed to something that seemed to be the length of the shoulder of the road. The roads weren’t that busy, but what made me nervous is that there were blind curves where you couldn’t see if traffic was coming. Since it was a one way in/out sort of situation for traffic, the roads weren’t shut down. From a safety perspective, I wish that a lane of road would have been completely shut down for the race. I also didn’t see any medical on course. I saw a few police on motorcycles, but nothing more than that, not even at the rest stops.

Rest stops were every few miles. Primarily, at miles 3.2, 5, 7.5, 9.2 and 11. The last 3 were placed after the 5 mile start. We never saw any of the 5 mile runners (or at least I didn’t).

Scenes from @greeneventscolorado today. No phone service on course! #bibchat

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Post Race

I finished in 2:37, and quite frankly, given the lack of training, wasn’t bad. The finish was at the basin of the Canyon. At the finish, you received a medal and commemorative glass, which was your cup for water post race. I grabbed my bag and went and found food. Donuts, fruit, bagged snacks, etc were available. Runners received a coupon for a free slice of pizza, which was otherwise $5. It looked good, but the line was long for it, and not worth the wait, especially since I had to get back to the hotel and shower. There were tents set up for vendors and merchandise for runners and spectators. They were also doing awards, which included getting a poster and something engraved. Buses were transporting people back to the HS, which was about 15 minutes or so. I was able to get showered and checked out of the hotel.

Overall, I think it was a decent race. I think the race needs to look at closing off more road so runners have more space and for more runner safety. I also think they need to relook the location of the packet pick up. The line was long early on and getting in and out was a mess. However, it’s a scenic race for sure that lets you enjoy Colorado, especially when it’s nice out

Post race swag from @greeneventscolorado #bibchat

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Bibrave Race Review: Vermont City Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Vermont City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After a few days of digestion of this weekend’s Vermont City Marathon, it’s fair to say that I learned a lot this weekend. With 40+ half marathons and 7 marathons in the book, I’ve been able to say I’ve finished all of them until now, no matter how ugly the weather, circumstances, etc were. This weekend, the deck of cards dealt a different hand!

I ran marathon 1 of the year in March and towards the end of that race, started to feel some heat in VA. Between know and then, I’d been able to do a few half marathons, but due to work, I wasn’t getting runs in until 730 or 8 PM at night. I was looking forward to Vermont City as a chance to visit Burlington and just have some fun during a long run!

Vermont City has a Marathon, 2 person marathon (read 13.1 miles each) and a 3-5 person relay. Registration varied from $99-$135, depending on when you registered and you could register at the expo if there was space available, as there were caps.

I flew out to Burlington the day prior to the race. I had 2 regional planes (read, I had a soft bag that I could stuff in the overhead bin. When I arrived in Burlington, it was in the 70s-80s. Even before I left the airport, I was hearing how this was the hottest year ever for the race and that the days leading up to the race, organizers were thinking of moving/canceling the race. I picked up my rental car and headed to the Sheraton for the expo. It was a small race expo, but there were plenty of merchandise, vendors, etc there, including a bunch of local places, which I appreciate. It was easy to pick up your bib, shirt, etc. They even had a shirt exchange site if you could find your size you wanted and a message board for relay teams that were looking for last minute runners. I also had a chance to meet Jess Cover (the communications person for VCM), who was awesome. She told me about the adjustments that they’d made for the race and their plans for the heat (extra ice, adjustments on course, etc).

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Burlington and headed to check in after the expo and relax. I had my stuff all laid out, filled out the medical info on the back of my bib and got organized. I spent the evening in downtown Burlington. I hit the sack early in anticipation for an earlier wake up call.

I woke up around 6 and got ready in the hotel. Since I was at one of the race hotels, they had water and light breakfast stuff out for runners. They also had shuttles bussing people to the start, which I took full advantage of. I got to Battery Park and checked my bag (extra shirt and plenty of fluids for after the race) before utilizing the porta potties. The race started at 803 for runners (800 for hand cyclists) and it was already in the mid 70s and at a yellow health level for the EAS. As we headed off, I lost one of my 8 0z water bottles on my spibelt (bummer). Plenty of spectators sending us off. We weaved through town and dealt with the weather. It was sunny, no clouds and as we continued on, you could feel it getting warmer and the heat from the pavement. I could feel it getting warmer. The first water stop was 2 miles in or so. We continued to mile 3, where we hit some of the communities. As we got to mile 4, we headed out onto highway that’s closed down once a year for the race. This is where I started struggling. No shade at all and it was getting hotter. By mile 5 (and I was way behind on pacing), we were at a level red for the emergency system. I had already seen 2 runners being pulled off course by EMS and the bike medics were asking people if they were doing ok. We hit some more water stations and the turn around just after mile 6 which had ice and gatorade. By the time I was heading back, I could see the rear of the race coming the other direction, which was disheartening. I hit mile 7-8 off the highway and worked my way through some of the neighborhoods. The residents were awesome and had sprinklers out for runners and their own water stops for runners, which was much appreciated. By mile 10, I was walking more than I was running. I was also feeling like I was starting to not sweat and my calf was nagging me. It took about 40 minutes for me to do 3 miles and the heat was getting worse with the humidity.

I made it to Oakwood Park (mile 13.5) and the halfway point of the race, just past the 2 person relay exchange. At that point, I thought the best decision for me was to stop and pull out of the race. It wasn’t something I personally took lightly, but I was worried that aid stations would run out of fluids, as I had seen the last few prior to stopping starting to not have a lot left by the time I got there. I took the relay buses to the finish line to get my bag and found massage therapists for runners. I had them work on my legs, and as I was there, a family member of a runner checked his phone to find out the race had been cancelled at noon (4 hours into the race) and that anyone beyond a certain time frame wouldn’t get an official time. I wondered a little bit, found some food, bought some ice cream and headed back to the hotel for a shower.

As I reflected on everything, I did a twitter blast to try and find the other bib rave pros running the race. None of us officially finished, but we found out the timer had been left running for people to find family members on the course. Here’s where I thought some things could use a little bit of fine tuning. No one can control the weather. This is up there as one of the top 2 hottest marathons I’ve done (the Chicago 2010 Marathon being the other). I wish that there would have been a direct text alert system to runners so they knew what was going on, in addition to the Race Joy app. I think it would have helped with some of the confusion and so we knew what was going on. I don’t always set up push notifications because it kills my batteries. I’d also do colored flags to correlate with the signs so it’s easier for runners to see on course.

I personally agree with the decision to call the race, as I saw at least 5 squads take people off course. At this point, it’s a matter of me figuring my next step. I’m getting ready to move out west and I have some halves set up. I’ll also have more time to adequately train, so hopefully I’ll be able to get out and train better in heat. I have a December marathon set up for Hawaii, so hopefully I can get some redemption there. All in all, I think there’s a lot to learn here. DNFs happen and I’m lucky it took this long to get. Remember, safety always first, even if there’s disappointment around it. Regardless of what you thought about the outcome of VCM, I really think Vermont City is a race worth signing up for. The staff is wonderful, communicated well and really tried to make adjustments to the race given their circumstances. The only thing I would add is they need to consider a one person half marathon (I would have been all over that!!). I thought their communication post race was spot on. They took the time to explain their rationale, debunk any online rumors and answer any questions about local New England Double and Vermont City Grand Prix. Curious? Read it here in their Letter from the Race Director

Thank you Vermont City, for showing us how classy race organizers can be, how awesome your city and community are in their love for runners and how one can still have a good time even when the weather isn’t kind to us

Race Review: Akron Half Marathon

As life has been hectic recently, I’m a touch behind on the Akron Half Marathon from a few weekends ago. Typically, it happens the last weekend of September and is a Saturday race. After work on the Friday before the race, I headed down to Akron to pick up my bib at the John Knight Center. There’s no mailing option to get your packet sent to you, but the expo is open until 9 pm. I got to the expo and made it to free parking. You picked up your bib and bag first and then made your way through the expo to get your shirt. If you did the full marathon, you got a jacket (a touch jealous about that one). Plenty of vendors there and Akron Marathon specific clothing, including a pair of sweats that ended up coming with me. Race day entailed The Marathon, Marathon Relay and Half Marathon. It’s part of a series and if you did all 3 races, you got extra bling at the end

Even though I’m local [ish], I ended up staying at one of the race hotels so I didn’t have to drive the hour in to Akron on race day. They did have a shuttle that transported you to the start, but I felt like sleeping in. I was able to drive and get to the start within 15 minutes and was within 1/4 mile of the start. The weather was nice, but cool at the beginning. I was grateful for the indoor bathrooms of the student union prior to the start!

 

The Course: Akron has Hills. I hate hills. There were parts that were flat and/or down hill which were fine, but you do go over bridges which have some incline of their own. You see some good parts of Akron and then some other parts that are meh. They had a good amount of entertainment on course, a plus. There were parts with spectators and other parts where it was you and your music if you had any. Since there was a Half and Full marathon and a Full Marathon Relay, the course was marked well and had color coded letters (H, F, R) to let you know where to go. When the relay runners split for there hand offs, there was more than enough staff at each exchange during the first 2 to keep things in line. Also more than enough people and notice just after mile 12 to let the Full and Relay Marathon runners to go one way and the Half Marathon Runners to go another. If you missed it, it was your own fault.

The race finished in the Akron Baseball Stadium. Luckily we didn’t have to go around the entire stadium. Plenty of seating for people to come and watch and for runners to chill out after the race. It also had the post race party: you walked out of the finish and got water and your medal. You kept walking and there was a food tent that took your food tab off your bib and handed you a bag and afterwards, you got a banana, another water and chocolate milk. You were then directed to the beer tent and then there were the porta potties right there if you needed it. They also had a Pizza Tent that was off to the side and I almost missed. Took no more than 5 minutes if you weren’t waddling!

Organization: A+! Just wish there were 1-2 more aid stations at the beginning

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