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The Cooling Towel you Need

Deepthi Velkur talks about the Mission Enduracool Techknit Cooling Towel that has become a constant companion.

It doesn’t matter where you live, some parts of your season are just way hotter than others. It isn’t just the heat but also the high humidity means that running here can be just as challenging. There are several ways you can go about mitigating the effect of the heat during your long runs.

First and foremost is hydration; your body cannot function if you neglect your fluid intake. Second is pacing your run and finally we come down to accessories, things which you can use to reduce the effect of heat on your body and in turn improving your performance.

One of these accessories is cooling towels which is a must-have in your running kit. They are extremely light, compact and convenient to carry around and can keep you cool for several hours at a time.

The Mission EnduraCool Techknit cooling towel is a light-weight, soft and breathable multi-sport towel made from proprietary performance fabric. These new cooling towels beat the heat around you when it is dampened and draped around your head, neck or other hot zones. These colourful towels are quite popular with sporting greats like Serena Williams (tennis), Sergio Garcia (golf), Dwayne Wade (basketball) and of course nearly all world-class marathon runners.

Let’s take a quick look at some features that make this towel a super buy (after 3 months of using it, I love it!).

Proprietary Techknit performance fabric – The thermoregulating technology inside the towel works by absorbing moisture and perspiration in the fabric where the unique fibers circulate water molecules. This in turn regulates the rate of evaporation to create a prolonged cooling effect.

Instant chilling capability – This durable and soft towel is made of evaporative and breathable mesh material that gets activated when it comes in contact with water and will cool to about 30 degrees below your average body temperature lasting up to 2 hours. As long as the towel is damp and has airflow, it will remain cool and keep you comfortable. Additionally, this towel also provides UPF 50 sun protection.

Chemical Free, reusable and machine washableThe towel is made of chemical-free soft mesh material which can be reused any number of times and can be easily washed.        

Price 

This towel is probably one of the best cooling towels available in the market today retailing at INR 2000 (post discount on www.amazon.in). The price tag is definitely a tad expensive but considering the benefits and its longevity, the EnduraCool Techknit cooling tower is a worthwhile investment.

It’s been 3 months since I got myself one of these towels and I use it not just on a run but also on the occasional camping trips around Bangalore where a long day in the sun can get you really edgy. These towels sure are a life-saver and I’m glad I made it an addition to my summer survival tool kit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Should you listen to music during a run?

There is an impact from listening to music during your run, so should you or shouldn’t you, asks Nandini Reddy.

Science supports listening to music while you run. But there are several pros and cons that you need to consider before pumping up the jam. Music can be a huge motivator especially when you need to keep motivation up. But let us consider two kinds of people – those who don’t listen to music and those who do.

Don’t Listen to Music

Runners who used to run with music have now stopped because of the constant irritation and distraction of the headphones. For some people the music works more as a barrier than an enhancement as it diverts their attention from their body. A lot of runners even consider it a safety hazard as we don’t pay attention to the ambient noises that might be important for our safety. Trail runners do not use music and they want to enjoy being part of nature.

Breathing

We need to focus on our breathing while we run. Runners should have a deep breathing technique that involves diaphragmatic breathing. When your mind is distracted by music it is less likely that you will focus on your breathing. That means you switch to breathing from your chest. This sort of shallow breathing limits the delivery and circulation of oxygen.

The pain of Earphones

There are earphones that are particularly built for running. But despite all the design enhancements earphone can be an irritation and a distraction. The time runners spend in adjusting and setting the earphones in a comfortable position distracts them from the task of running.

In Favour of Music

There is a science behind using music to enhance your running performance. Research has shown that music increases concentration and provides ongoing motivation. Runners have also said that it feels like less effort when they run to music. They are also able to maintain a comfortable tempo when the right kind of music is played. Fast paced and motivating music is the key to a positive run.

A list of the pros of running with music

  • Pumps you up for your runs
  • Sets a consistent tempo
  • Runs feel easier
  • Motivated to run more
  • Positive Influence on mood

While we consider the pros we also need to consider the cons

  • Might not help you get the right pace for your race
  • Distraction from headphones
  • Unsafe as it blocks out your surrounding noise
  • Disconnects you from nature
  • Might undermine the benefits of the running experience

Music or no music – whichever you choose just enjoy your run.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Running and Giving

Guest Columnist Tarun Walecha talks about how running introduced him to sharing his passion with others and supporting them. 

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”…Winston Churchill

Our lives are a constant evolution driven by our experiences and our passion. Our circumstances drive us, and our intent keeps firing up the desire to evolve into the individual we see ourselves as. Running happened to me in the similar course of life, though I must admit I had no clue of where it would take me eventually. An extension of fitness regime would go on to become a pivoted gear of my thought process and being, was something I could not even fathom even in my most lateral imagination.

RUNXTREME: The beginning

When I started running in 2011, often I was left for the want of company. Therefore, either I had to run solo or drive up long distance for a tiny run that I could manage. Facebook groups weren’t as prevalent, and those available weren’t as active. Four years of hopping around, running with various groups and partners I wasn’t able to find a steady, bankable and invigorating company. That is when, along with some like minded running buddies I thought of forming a running group of our own, we called it RUNXTREME and we wanted it to be the first source of any running related information a new runner may need. We wanted it to be easily reachable source for every aspiring runner… for all the hand holding they may need,  abate their anxieties, run along when they need and share all one can, so they could move up the ladder fast and not meander in the path.

RUNXTREME is in its fourth year already, needless to say I’m more that happy about the way it has evolved as a group. Not just for others, but it has also been instrumental in giving me a direction of where I want my life to be, and how running can be a driving force for the same. In 2016, while I was going through a turbulent phase, embroiled in the labyrinth of my thoughts, trying to find a purposeful headway with running.

Share & Care

I discovered Share & Care. As a part of that initiative, I decided to run 7 Half Marathons distance runs, on 7 consecutive days, in different parts of Delhi NCR. The aim was not to prove my physical prowess, but to create awareness for fitness and raise support for budding athletes from marginalised section of society. The support I got from the entire running community was overwhelming and only compelled me to repeat the same in 2017 in a bigger way. While that journey continues to be evolved as does my search for the way forward, a chance encounter with kids cycling on a Sunday morning, incited the thought of pushing the envelope. Instead of waiting for an annual extravaganza I wanted to do this year long.

A little bit of prodding my own thoughts and looking around took me to NAZ FOUNDATION (INDIA) TRUST, where I got to spend some time with the children they train, not only to become sports person but better, confident and self-assured individual through the medium of sports. What matters is that it doesn’t just end at a park game for the kids, over period of time NAZ FOUNDATION has actually formed a national level league for these kids. A Net Ball tournament which happens at district level, then state and eventually culminates into a national level competition. This entire journey from playing in their backyards to the expanse of a sports arena can itself widen their perspective to life, let alone the confidence and trust in themselves that they gain. Whether they turn up to be national sports champions or not becomes secondary against the new life that this entire process opens up to them. This seemed to be a logical progression where our group could foresee an integration and join them to be a part of this inspiring journey.

Running Charity

With the support of my fellow team mates, and the entire RUNXTRME community, we have decided to make their dream ours, and support NAZ FAOUNDATION in this endeavour. As we head into the running season, with the biggest run of the country ADHM approaching us, we would be raising funds for them so that could move ahead on this path unencumbered. With the help of friends and acquaintances, whom we shall urge to contribute towards this, it’s not the money that we will be offering…it’s a belief that we will reinstate, it’s courage to dream that we will instill.

I wish, hope and believe, this step towards supporting NAZ FOUNDATION at ADHM would only be a beginning of many more dreams to be realized.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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Not Another Brick in The Wall

Ever imagined what it would be like to run along the Great Wall of China, well you can says Capt Seshadri.

“Unless you have climbed to the top of the Wall, you cannot say you are a man” – old Chinese saying.

The Great Wall of China is reportedly the only man made structure that is visible to the naked eye from the moon, although it is probably now under intense competition as one of the oldest structures in the world, from the new, mammoth constructions in the Middle East.

Competition is not new to this Wall, having been originally constructed to keep out invaders and raiders. The latest in competition, however, though unwarlike and healthy, is the Great Wall Marathon that is traditionally held on the third Saturday of May, falling on the 19th of this year. Having taken its origin in 1999, with a few hundred runners, this extremely challenging course has, over the years, transformed from a full and half marathon, a 10k and 5 k event, to a combination of the latter two to an 8.5 km ‘fun run’.   

The run isn’t all about fun however, with the participants having to negotiate 5,164 stone steps, several steep ascents and descents and, owing to the old age of the structure, stumble over loose stones and rubble. This portion makes for a virtual addition of 6.4 km to the 42 km course. In fact, there is a stretch where people actually crawl up the steps. Now, every marathon has a phase, generally around the 32nd km or so when the runner literally ‘hits the wall’ of endurance. Here, it may be taken as a little more than literal.

The ‘runnable’ portion of the Great Wall Marathon essentially traverses the Simatai section of the Wall and crosses the Huangya or Yellow Cliff pass. Such is the height and the location, that the best respite for the runners is possibly the breathtaking scenery along the route. But the view is not the only aspect of the marathon that will take one’s breath away. Loose gravel and crumbling steps are compounded by sections overgrown with wild foliage. In sectors where the Wall is not traversable, the course drops to trails alongside. The challenges are many and varied and make extreme physical demands on the participants. The steps, the upward slopes and downward gradients, are typically suited for those athletes who regularly do interval training.    

Every marathon, in its present avatar, to encourage amateur participants and reward completion rather than winning, usually has the final batch timed in at 6 hours. The Great Wall Marathon however, sets a time of 10 hours for completion; such is the difficult nature of the course. On an average, the finisher of 4 hours for a regular marathon will require around 6 hours to finish here. This has not been the least bit of a deterrent to over 2,500 participants from over 50 countries. No wonder then, that the men’s record for this run is 3:25:13 and for the women it is 4:12:42. Henrik Brandt, a Danish runner, who has competed in every edition for the past 18 years says: “Some years they’ve almost killed me; but since this was the first marathon I ever ran, I fell in love with it.”

Of the 1,200 runners entered for Saturday the 19th, around 450 will start the marathon and half-marathon. The rest will run the shorter distance for fun.

All and all, it’s just another brick in the Wall. Or, is it, really?  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Leadership Lessons from a Marathon

Marathon’s do more than just test your endurance, they give you valuable leadership lessons writes Nandini Reddy

Everyone takes to marathon running for different reasons. Some do it for health purposes, some for passion and some for the challenge they offer. But if you pay closer attention you will realise that it offers you important leadership lessons that you can apply back to your team and business.

Here are the five leadership lessons every marathon teaches you

Determination to execute an idea

Your decision to run a marathon most of the time happens out of the blue. Many runners start from zero at the beginning of a year and end up cracking goal timings by the year end marathon. This achievement usually has relentless training and a methodical plan. In a professional context this applies to executing projects and ideas. Methodical planning, goal-setting and time management are qualities you learn on the running track and can be applied to your work. Focus on the plan and commitment to achieving goals can also be replicated in a work situation.

Step wise approach

When you start training, you begin with a run walk combination and then slowly progress to running short distances then running for a longer time and then finally to running a fully marathon. This step wise approach helps you reach the ambitious goal of completing the distance of 42kms. This same logic applies to teamwork on projects in the office which requires a step-by-step approach to measure progress.

Encouraging others

When you trying to finish such a competitive and high endurance event, encouragement goes a long way. During marathons shouts of encouragement from spectators along the way and even fellow runners can boost your energy when you are struggling along the course and help you cross the finish line. In a corporate environment people spend more time pulling each other down rather than encouraging each other. Only when we mutually encourage each other’s progress can we build a positive work environment.

Avoiding Burnout

Runners know the importance of rest and recovery in between their rigorous training sessions. Injury can lead to frustration. Similarly, in a work situation if we need to achieve our goals for a project you cannot over stress your team and expect high quality work. You need recovery breaks that energise the team and as a runner you will understand the importance of these breaks.

Achieve and Repeat

Its never enough to run a single marathon. Every time you cross the finish line you will be itching to run the next. Marathoners hardly ever say that they never want to run another marathon. Even as they are receiving their medals for completing a marathon, their mind is already planning for the next one. This attitude is important at work and that sort of motivation keeps the creative juices of your team flowing and always ready to take on challenges at work.

Finally, if runners didn’t have fun they would never run. The same applies to your work, if you and your team have fun on the job you are less likely to have attrition and will achieve better results on each project.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Run for Fame or Fun

Capt Seshadri looks at the Santa Barbara International Marathon that can bring you closer to your Boston dreams.

Are you a keen runner? Do you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Want your family to enjoy a scenic vacation? And join them after the run? Here’s a simple solution to all these. Just run the Santa Barbara International Marathon.

Beginnings

It was as early as in 1965. Marathons outside of the Olympics were virtually unknown. In Santa Barbara, a picturesque town in California, a group of distance runners created a marathon that was to continue for nearly two decades, till 1984. The debut event saw 27 runners start the race, that began at the University of California Santa Barbara and concluded at the Santa Barbara College. Only seventeen crossed the finish line. The event slowly gained some popularity, and with the start and finish both being shifted to the College, the maximum number of participants in the first series, in the year 1977, rose to 354. Those days, there were no aid stations and no traffic regulations to make the course exclusive to the runners, who had to vie with vehicular traffic on the roads. Over time, the event died a natural death till it was revived by the untiring efforts of a runner couple.

Racing with the Race Directors

Rusty and June Snow, co-directors of the Santa Barbara Marathon, actually moved base from the East Coast to bring this event to Santa Barbara. It took a few years of persuasion and cajoling, but the couple finally brought it off in 2009, on December 6, to be precise. There was both the usual marathon and even a relay event, with close to 2,000 runners participating in both events. After this rebirth, there was no looking back for this dedicated couple who even collected the leftover water bottles and snack bars and donated them to the Santa Barbara Foodbank. The discarded clothing was given to Unity Shoppe.

The thoughtfulness of the race directors was key to making the event a tremendous success, year after year. In 2011, a sum of $ 5,000 was donated to the Community Environment Council, from the simple expedient of allocating $1 from the entry fee of each participant. Commented Rusty: “We need to be thoughtful and protect that place we live and run. One reason people come to run the marathon is to experience the beauty of the region. We want to protect that for years to come, for our runners and for our community.”

The Route Plan

The Santa Barbara International Marathon takes the runners through some of the most scenic routes on any marathon trail in the world. Beginning in Goleta, the route winds through the town and towards the outskirts of the University town of Isla Vista. As the runners close in towards Santa Barbara, they are met with a fairly steep incline. But after they have puffed their way up the hill, they come face to face with the majestic view of the endless Pacific Ocean as they now run down the slopes and onto the finish line at the Santa Barbara City College Stadium.      

The time is early May, on Mothers’ Day weekend, the best season for running or even for leisure activity in this part of the world. Spoil yourself with choices from the full course, the half marathon, or even run the two-person relay. And as the organisers say: “Run with, or for your mother!” Finish your run, relax and head for ocean activities, or hike, bike or chase history. Or celebrate your finish at the post race Wine & Music Festival at the Solvang Park.  

Run the Santa Barbara Marathon. Run for fame, or just run for fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Summer Foods for Runners

Summer is the time for runners to indulge in food, thus making it the best season for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Hot and humid weather is always a big deterrent for runners. As the sun bears down, there is one
aspect that runners do love about the summer – the ability to indulge in summer foods. Getting
dehydrated and exhausted in the summer is easy. We get the freshest fruits and vegetables to
indulge in every summer and these help in lowering the core temperature and refuelling our bodies.
Refreshing the body doesn’t need electrolyte drinks, tabs, powders and pricey bottled drinks during
the summers because of the availability of fresh foods in abundance.
Sweat doesn’t just remove water from the body but also essentials nutrients. So, it is important to
eat the right kind of foods in the summer. Generally hot weather tends to kill appetite and its very
important to ensure that you get adequate nutrition. Even if don’t feel like indulging in a heavy meal
of protein and carbs, you should include the below foods.

Fruits
Summer brings a whole host fruits – watermelons, mangoes, strawberries and plums. Watermelon is
the best fruit for ensuring that you hydrate and regain your nutrients. Lycopene content in the fruit
helps in preventing sun damage to the skin cell. Plums help in improving the immune system and
prevents summer diseases. For runners it’s a great fruit for ensuring a healthy gut. While mangoes
need to be consumed in moderation, this fruit is rich in selenium and iron, thus making it a very
important addition to a runner’s diet.

Vegetables
The vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, zucchini and all the gourds, make for
great summer foods. The foods are good for digestion, replenish lost nutrients and helps in purifying
the blood. All the vegetables have a cooling effect on the body and help reduce the core
temperature. Leafy vegetables like Spinach and Amaranth are good to fight off the ill effects of
summer.

Smoothies
The berries in the summer are perfect for summer smoothies. You can combine strawberry with
yogurt or almond milk to create a nutritious smoothie that makes for a great post-run drink. The
popular mango lassi is also a perfect drink to beat the summer heat. Dark chocolate is also a great
addition to your smoothies. This is the best food to quell hunger pangs and it packs a whole lot of
nutrition.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best as they provide the right nutrition that you need to
rehydrate and fuel your body for your running training during the summer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Scenic Marathon – Pembrokeshire

Amid the Coastal Trail Marathon’s, Pembrokeshire is one of the most scenic marathon’s of the UK, that will flag off this Sunday, writes Nandini Reddy.

Pembrokeshire boosts of being the only coastal National Park in Britain. With its jagged cliffs, sandy bays, coastal villages and coves, it promises to offer spectacular views. The course is challenging as well with an undulating terrain that takes one over grassy paths, beach trails and a jagged coastal route. Here you can choose to run a variety of distances ranging from a 10k to a half marathon to a full marathon and then an ultra (55k). This marathon is listed as one of the top 10 ultra marathons in the world. here are some scary climbs on this undulating run, but some epic descents too, and the glorious views of the ocean are guaranteed to take your mind off your jelly legs.

While the finish line is at Little Haven for all, the start lines are staggered along the course. The start times are generally not published and participants are generally given a start window. This is because the route can be a bit narrow at certain points and in order to prevent a bottle neck they use a chipped start, giving preference to elite runners first. The other fun aspect of this run is that you can run with dog. You will be asked to start later than the rest of the group but you are allowed to bring along with dog for the run. The only expectation is that the animal is well-behaved and is on a lead the whole time.

Trail runs like these are not similar to the city marathons because the opportunity to see people or meet support staff will happen only every few kms. Only the 10k participants have one water station which will provide water in cups. The other distances will have to carry their own water containers. The water stations are few and far between but are comprehensive as they provide carbohydrate and salt replenishment options along with spots to refill your water containers. But food at these stations is limited hence participants would need to carry their own.

There is also listed cut off times for participants. Cut offs are along the route; there are no ‘Finish Line’ cut offs. There is also an event prescribed safety kit that you are expected to carry. All participants are notified ahead about the same and it includes mobile phone, cash, first aid, cap, windproof jacket, whistle, foil blanket, head torch, etc. If the runner wants to retire early from the race, they would be allowed to do so at any Checkpoint.

The event does promise an after-party in Little Haven for all the participants, so there is something to look forward to after the run. This is one marathon that is defined as ‘epic’ by runners across the world and is one of the best ultra trail marathons you can experience. Its all happening on April 28 and if you missed it this year there is always next year for which you can start getting prepped.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The hottest London Marathon

Nandini Reddy takes a look at one of the most anticipated marathon’s in the world, the Virgin London Marathon 2018.

Whenever we think London Marathon we think rain, but this year the rains decided to visit Boston and the sun will be out in full force this Sunday for the 38th Virgin London Marathon 2018. While that has become the talking point of the marathon this year the marathon is attracting its share of elite runners and celebrities. The marathon is also famous for the number of runners who turn up in the zaniest of costumes.

Here are a few things you need to remember when you run the famed London Marathon this year

  • There will always be a queue for toilets so be prepared
  • Find your place in the starting corrals because it will take at least a mile before its free running as the crowd spreads out
  • You will be running with gorillas and Batman, so get ready to have them whiz past you
  • If you like seeing the sights then you can look out for The Big Ben, Isle of Dogs, Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays to name a few
  • Crowds will cheer you on through the way; absorb that energy
  • Don’t be too surprised if you hear someone yell you name, its on your BIB and people are just calling out encouragements
  • As you near the finish line, the crowds will get louder and more boisterous. It can be annoying or encouraging, depending on how you view it

The Heat

Weathermen are saying that the temperate is expected to spike to 24C. Thus far the record of high temperature has been 22C. This unreasonably warm weather might play spoilsport for all the runners who want to run in costume. For the regular runner, remember to dress wisely. Also not over exerting themselves keeping in mind the warm weather would be a good idea. While there is an expected short spell of rain, experts feel that this will slow the race down because it might make the running surface slick.

The Elites

More than 40,000 people will be lining up to run the London Marathon this year. Among the elites, we have Sir Mo Farah back in action this year and is looking to best his time of 2:08:21 that he set in 2014. Last year’s winner Daniel Wanjiru might not be deterred by the temperatures and will be looking to repeat last year’s success. The Kenyan, Mary Keitany is back again to defend her title against fierce competition from Ethiopian runner Tirnuesh Dibaba who lost out by mere seconds in 2017. Gladys Cherono, a fan favourite at the Berlin Marathon will be running the London Marathon for the first time this year.

Running for a Cause

Like all big marathons, London attracts a host of people supporting causes. The big charities have a host of celebrities running for them. But there are many interesting smaller stories like a Norfolk teacher running to raise funds for a hospital that saved her son and the father running a bear costume to raise funds for his daughter’s treatment. The most exciting one that many will be watching for is Simon Kindleyside, who will be running his first London Marathon with an exo-skeleton suit instead of a wheelchair. Simon is determined to complete the course, so that he can show that being paralysed shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving their marathon dreams.

There might be changes in personal best timings if the heat becomes too unbearable but if runners remember to hydrate and aim finish the course, they should be better off.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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