‘THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP.’

In August 2014, a core team of 10 people will strive to reach the summit of the Matterhorn from London, entirely under our own steam. We will run, row, cycle, hike and climb over 1,000 km and will be joined by hundreds of others across the different legs. The Virgin STRIVE Challenge aims to raise £750,000 to support young people in the UK develop the life skills they need to reach their potential.

The Challenge Meet the team

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STRIVE is the latest event organised by Big Change. But it’s more than a physical challenge or a fundraising event, it is an opportunity to bring focus to an important part of young people’s development – Life Skills.
We believe the journey is as important as the destination, and that by setting yourself goals and striving to achieve them, you learn vital skills along the way. This is fundamental to the spirit of the Virgin STRIVE Challenge.





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We’re bringing together a group of people with inspirational stories of hard work, discipline and overcoming obstacles. These are people who have all strived in some way – from building successful companies to winning Wimbledon, they all have an interesting story to tell. If you would like to join them, then please read on!






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The core team will:
• Run three back to back marathons from London to Dover
• Row across the English Channel
• Cycle through France to Verbier
• Hike the Haute Route to Zermatt
• Climb the Matterhorn
• And then return home for a well earned rest!
The marathon and cycle legs are open to people who would like to join us and if you are interested in taking part then read on….

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Funds raised will go directly to our Big Change Life Skills projects. Big Change is a charity focused on giving young people in the UK an opportunity to learn and develop the soft skills they need to become healthy, happy and productive adults. While we know that traditional academic learning is fundamental to a child’s education and their outcome in life, we also recognise that non-academic learning can play a huge role too.

Whether it be helping young people learn about teamwork, communication, relationships, or giving them an opportunity to improve their emotional wellbeing and physical health, the money raised for Big Change will help develop projects that focus on these Life Skills and change the way they are thought about and taught nationwide.

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We have a number of places available for selected legs of the challenge and if you’d like to be part of the challenge, you can sign up to participate in the marathon or cycle legs. Places are available on a first come first served basis – click on ‘More’ to find out more about each leg and then go to ‘Take Part’ to sign up.






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Latest News

Video! In Case You Missed It…

We had a great time on the Virgin STRIVE Challenge and pushed ourselves to our max. We faced our fears, drew on deep reserves of resilience, and overcame a major obstacle (Matterhorn, anyone?).. Have you seen the video yet? Check this out to see everything you missed!

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All we can say is THANKS…

The Virgin STRIVE Challenge started as a vision by cousins Sam and Noah to get from London to to the summit of the Matterhorn to raise money for Big Change and to spark a conversation about the need for Life Skills for Young People in the UK. This vision was made a reality thanks to […]

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VIDEO! Striving to New Heights… The Matterhorn

After having to postpone our climb up the Matterhorn due to dangerous conditions the previous night, the team set out, headlamps on, at 3:00 AM in the bitter cold.  They marched off with their Dream Guides under the starry sky like glowing ants, lighting up the mountain on their way up! Here is a video […]

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The Matterhorn Update

Having trekked up to the Schwarzee hut yesterday afternoon with the intention of attempting the Matterhorn early this morning (2nd Sept) the decision was taken late last night to delay the attempt until tomorrow morning. This decision was based on a number of factors, all of which, hopefully, will give us a better chance of […]

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Ready, set, climb… The Pre-Matterhorn Meeting

Having finished the Haute Route Hike, our last obstacle before completing the Virgin STRIVE Challenge is the climb up the Matterhorn. Last night, we had an ominous awakening as unforeseen rain poured down in Zermatt all night. The worse part -it was snowing on the peak – making an already technical climb more difficult.   […]

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Introducing Grivel … our official Mountain Hardware Partner

Climbing the Matterhorn is an epic challenge in and of itself and safety for our Core Team is paramount. This is why we turned to Grivel to provide us with climbing gear to get us to the top of the Matterhorn safely. We couldn’t be more excited to announce Grivel as our official Mountain Hardware Partner. […]

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Video! The Haute Route Hike

We have finished our Haute Route Hike. It has been a roller coaster ride, with some beautiful days, some rainy days, many blisters but even more smiles! What an amazing seven days! Our Core Team and forty Strivers, led by Dream Guides, have hiked from Verbier to Zermatt. Here is a summary of what we faced, […]

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High Tech Striving

The Virgin STRIVE Challenge Core Team – along with some lucky participants – are being live tracked as they make their way from London to the Summit of the Matterhorn entirely under human power. Using Causeway’s Telematics  live tracking technology, participants are equipped with trackers feeding live location data back to the  Telematics system. Each participant’s […]

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Fantastic Fundraisers from the Cycle Legs

Cycle Leg Two has sadly (or happily – depending on the soreness of your legs) come to a close! Our cyclists did unbelievably well, especially on day 4 during the big climb into Verbier. The team at Big Change and the Virgin Strive Challenge want to express our appreciation for everyone’s unbelievable efforts. We especially want […]

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Dream Guides – Official Guiding Partner

We’re really excited to announce the Dream Guides as our official Guiding Partner for the 7 day hike in the Haute Route from Verbier to Zermatt, and for the gruelling climb up the Matterhorn. The Dream Guides  are experts in climbing and skiing and have already proven their talents during the Core Team’s training week in […]

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STRIVE Testimonials

The Core Team has ran three marathons, joined by many participants and Ultra Marathon runners. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you over the past week and were sad to see you go. Here is some feedback sent to us by participants who have left us…   “Two months ago I did not have a bike, […]

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Cycle Leg 2 is Finished

The Second Cycle Leg is finished! The team has officially made it to Verbier after a massive climb. If you missed the re-cap for the first two days of the Second Cycle Leg, check out the first half of the story here. We would like to thank Candice Pennington, from The Lodge, Jo Chandler, from Wholeycow, […]

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Onward and Upwards… Cycle Leg 2

Day 1 We kicked off Day 1 of the second cycle leg in Troyes, joined by many new participants, a couple of participants from Leg 1, as well as a special guest come to surprise Sam – Sir Richard Branson! Check out the video and interview below to see how the start of the day went! […]

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Advance Dental Clinic

The Virgin STRIVE Challenge is proud to be sponsored by Advance Dental Clinic, and thrilled that owner Andy Moore is on the second cycle leg with us. Before you read about Andy’s inspirational story below, we would like to announce that Andy is generously offering a free tooth whitening kit to the winners of our […]

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Our STRIVE Marathon Star!

It wasn’t long ago that Tori Eaton from Virgin Money had her “yes” moment and agreed to join in on the Strive action. Richard Branson explained the Virgin STRIVE Challenge on a conference call in front of the entire Virgin Money Staff and asked if anyone fancied signing up. Tori looked around the room, and […]

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Cycle Leg 1 is a Wrap!

The first cycling leg is over!  Our team rode through the lovely French countryside – chatting and joking all the way! The past two days were tough – there was quite a bit of up-hill cycling. Luckily, in group cycles, you have the benefit of knowing you won’t be climbing those hills alone, and you share […]

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Halfway There… Cycle Leg 1

Three days of cycling down. We have made it from Calais to St. Quentin, and from St. Quentin to Reims. We have one day left until the first cycle leg is over! This month is going by unbelievably quickly! The Core Team rested up and we welcomed a fresh crop of Strivers to cycle with us. […]

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Fantastic Fundraisers from the Marathons!

We would like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the marathon leg of the Virgin Strive Challenge. The following runners stood out in their fundraising efforts, going above and beyond their targets. Thank you to your supporters and for helping to get the Big Change message out there. Dan May […]

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Bertha got the Better…

There are certain things that you can have absolutely no control over, and none more so than the weather. Unfortunately, this time Bertha got the better of us. Here is a video to summarize what happened…   The last 6 weeks has seen some of the more calm and stable weather the channel has ever […]

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Meet Halfords – Our Official Cycling Partner

With the new crop of cyclists arriving today and the Cycle Leg 1 set to start tomorrow, we are pleased to announce our Cycling Partner – Halfords. We asked the guys at Halfords to let us know why they were so excited to work with us.. Here’s what they had to say!   At Halfords we were delighted […]

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About Big Change – Video!

A number of our fundraisers have been asking about Big Change recently and we thought it would be worthwhile putting it all down in one place along with a few videos that we hope highlight what we do and how we make a difference….   Who we are Big Change is an innovative new charity that […]

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Marathon 3 – Running Out Of Steam

Day three of the marathon and the Core Team and Ultra Marathon runners were extremely sore and battling blisters and various injuries. Whilst a few of the runners had a strong start and finish, the pace was considerably slower and many walked. The team was surprised to learn that the mileage was much higher than […]

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Marathon Two Round-Up!

During the first marathon yesterday, we were fortunate enough to have sunny weather – almost too hot to run. Today, the opposite was true. The runners were cursed with on and off torrential downpour rain, adding insult to their very real injuries. But the elements did not phase them.   We had a cheeky warm-up and […]

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Meet the Core Team… Richard Reed!

We are two days – two marathons – into the Strive Challenge… Here is what Richard Reed had to say about the experience up until now…   I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because… I love enjoying myself as much as I enjoy challenging myself. This was the perfect combination of both. Although, after two marathons in […]

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First Marathon Round-Up

What an amazing day! It is hard to believe the big day has finally come and gone. We had close to 50 runners join us this morning at the O2 to kick our first marathon, along with a handful of special guests to see us off, including Big Change founder Princess Beatrice, Holly Branson, Jermain Jackman, […]

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The calm before the storm…

We’ve just had our last dinner before the triple marathon, pounding on the pavement and pain kick off tomorrow! Catching up with some of the core team, the central emotions included: “Excited, nervous, wired and anxious” – Fiona Waller “Tired and hungry, but excited” – Arnaud Haines “Good, excited, jumpy and as ready as I […]

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Join us for the Virgin STRIVE Challenge Launch!

We can’t believe the big day is almost upon us. In just two days, Sam, Noah and the core team will be taking off for the adventure of their lives… In case you haven’t already heard, the Virgin STRIVE Challenge is a multi-discipline endurance event, taking place in August this year, which will see a […]

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Video! The Core Team conquers Chamonix

A few weeks ago the Core Team spent a week in Chamonix training for the Matterhorn climb. The Matterhorn is a technical climb with lots of exposure so it will be essential everyone on the core team knows exactly what they are doing. Climbing near vertical granite in the pitch black, with crampons on takes […]

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The Core Team hits the University of Hertfordshire

Last week, Noah, Sam and some of the Core Team headed back to the University of Hertfordshire in search of Dr. Robert’s go-ahead for the Challenge. Like last time, and so they could compare results, the team faced an ECG (electrocardiogram testings) and VO2 max tests. Some of the team were nervous to say the […]

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STRIVE Photo Competition with Advance Dental Clinic

We announced our photo competition at the Official Send-off Party. For those who missed it, Advance Dental Clinic is generously offering a free teeth whitening kit for the winner worth £400.   Please Tweet or Instagram photos of your training grounds and use the hashtag #WeStrive and #PhotoCompetition to enter. Training selfies, training grounds, accomplishments, Keep […]

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Across the Ocean in 78 Days… Fiona Waller details her experience!

On August 11, 2014, our Core Team is going to row 36 miles across the English Channel. Most of the team members have never been on a row boat before… Luckily, Core Team Member, Fiona Waller, is no stranger to Ocean rowing. She has already rowed across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. We wanted to find […]

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Meet the Core Team – Fiona Waller

I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because…having heard about it there was no way I could say no! It sounded like an amazing opportunity to have an incredible experience with some great people raising both money and the profile of a great cause, as well as really challenging myself.   Currently I’m training …  as much […]

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How do Sports and Life Skills go hand in hand?

Core Team member Lara Milward is a mother of two, a singer, and a fitness fanatic! We wanted to find out more about her fitness company, Blitz Fitness, and why she thinks it is so important to get young people involved with sports. Here is what she came back with… The human body is a […]

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True Grit – Video!

The Virgin Strive Challenge is striving to promote awareness about the importance of three key life skills for youth in the UK: communication, teamwork and emotional resilience, or grit. Employers in the UK have expressed their concern for the lack of development of these skills in school leavers in the UK – according to this […]

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Sam, Noah and Karl visit Burlington Danes Academy!

Last Thursday, as a part of our ARK Schools Tour, Sam, Karl and I visited Burlington Danes Academy to spend some time with the students and chat about STRIVE and Life Skills such as resilience, communication and teamwork.   We started the day taking part in their morning P.E. class which involved running a mile with the […]

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Meet the Core Team… Stephen Shanly!

I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because…the challenge sounded as brilliant as the cause. Shanly Foundation supports Beech Lodge School, which is also doing wonderful things for young people, and so this naturally felt like something to be involved with. Currently I’m training … rather a lot, along with eating, stretching, eating, stretching! It’s very […]

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Row Training Weekend at Burnham on Crouch

This weekend, the core team and I awoke early for our first training session on Britannia III – our amazing boat we will be using to row across the English Channel. We were all really excited to use the boat for the first time and to put our skills learned from training with Sir Matthew […]

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The Core Team visits the ARK Globe Academy!

On Thursday the Core Team, Sam and I headed to the ARK Globe Academy to spend an exciting afternoon in the sunshine, meeting and spending time with the pupils. We wanted to encourage the kids to set goals, whatever they might be, and strive hard to achieve them and to show them how important Life Skills (such as communication, […]

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Ark Academy School Visit

What an exciting afternoon! We headed up to the Ark Academy by Wembley Station with Karl Lokko to get the students pumped up about the Virgin STRIVE Challenge, to talk about the importance of goal setting and Life Skills, and to hear about the projects the students have been undertaking.     The Assembly The […]

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Core Team Rowing Session with Matthew Pinsent

A few weeks ago, our core team had the chance to practise their rowing techniques with Sir Matthew Pinsent, the rowing legend who has won 4 consecutive Olympic Gold medals! We met bright and early at the Virgin Active High Kensington Street gym to learn about proper rowing technique and to be briefed on what to expect […]

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Meet the Core Team – Lara Milward

 I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because…it’s an opportunity of a lifetime an I’m 44 years old I’ve got to go now before things start falling off.   Currently I’m training…  as much as possible between children, a day job, and singing in a cover band – I’m trying to fit it in as much […]

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How should you train for an Ultra Marathon? Sam any ideas?

When we asked Big Change founder and Virgin Strive Challenge Ultra Marathon Runner, Sam Richardson, to tell us how he got involved with the charity, and how he is preparing for his Ultra Marathon, here’s what he had to say! For more info on the marathon legs, check out this link!  In December 2009, fellow Big […]

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Meet the Core Team – Karl Lokko!

The Virgin Strive Challenge is proud to announce Karl Lokko as a member of our Core Team! Karl is an inspirational ex-gang leader and, you can read more about his story here.   It’s ironic that the main sponsor behind this challenge is Virgin, because I have lost so many virginities on this journey. I originally said […]

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Visiting the Franklin Scholars – Video!

We spent a day last week in Langdon Academy, Newham, visiting one of our partner projects and meeting some of the young people who are a part of it. We loved the idea of Franklin Scholars the minute we heard about it and we could not have been more excited to meet some of the […]

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Meet the Core Team – Marion Bartoli – Video!

I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because…it s the biggest challenge anyone’s offered me to do and it’s coming from Sam Branson. Enough said.   Currently I’m training…everyday 2 days, it s very hard to fit it in with the work schedule but I feel every bit of training helps so trying to put as […]

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The Importance of Training – Video!

A massive part of the Virgin STRIVE Challenge is the preparation and training. All participants will have to train hard for their respective legs but it is particularly important the core team start the  event in the best shape of their lives. The Core Team will be putting their bodies through hell nonstop for over […]

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High STRIVE – Core Team bonding and training in the mountains

Last week, myself and some of the Core Team headed to Chamonix for some Alpine training, to get us ready for the epic climb of the Matterhorn. We met up with the Dream Guides team who will be guiding us through the Haute Route and up the Matterhorn. Several members of the team had never […]

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Meet the core team…. Noah

I joined the Virgin STRIVE Challenge because… many people won’t believe us, but Sam and I came up with the challenge completely independently of each other.  On discovery we realised we had to turn it into a reality. Currently I’m training… twice a week with the core team in a Virgin Active gym doing strength work, […]

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Bounce Energy Balls – official nutrition partner

When we first started looking for partners to support the Virgin STRIVE Challenge, we always knew that we wanted to work with people and organisations that shared our values. Which is why we couldn’t be happier to announce Bounce Energy Balls as a sponsor and official nutrition partner. From the outset, we loved their products […]

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Fundraising Tips – Video!

Raising money for charity can seem daunting to begin with, but with a positive attitude and some imagination you will be amazed by what you are able to achieve. We’ve got a few tips and ideas to get you started! Set up your Virgin Money Giving page and make this space your own. Post photos […]

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Injury Prevention Tips from our very own Damon Newrick

Damon was one of the physios who worked with us on the Caterpillar Run in 2010 and he has been a part of the Big Change journey ever since – he is a leading sports physiotherapist and is one of the most energetic and generous people you are ever likely to meet. When we asked […]

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The Marathon Legs

The Virgin STRIVE Challenge Marathon Legs The Virgin STRIVE Challenge kicks off with 3 back-to-back marathons; starting at the O2 Arena in London, passing through Gravesend and Faversham and ending up in Dover, on the South Coast. Whether you’re a keen marathon runner and fancy doing the Ultra (3 marathons in 3 days) or you […]

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Striving to make a difference – Video!

I am delighted by the positive response we’ve had since the launch of The Virgin Strive Challenge. Thanks to Strive supporters on social media, including Jack Whitehall, Hugh Jackman and Professor Brian Cox, the Virgin Strive Challenge will have reached millions of people. And that is exactly why we launched this event – to spark […]

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The Cycle Legs

Once the core team have run from London to Dover and then rowed across the Channel – the cycle stages begin! If cycling across France sounds like your cup of tea then read on because we have two options for anyone who would like to join us: “the Champagne Leg”, an easier ride across northern […]

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The Launch – Video!

We officially launched today at the O2 Arena with the Core Team and a few other well-known participants climbing the side of the dome! On arrival we were shrouded in thick fog but after a few nervous hours the fog cleared revealing stunning sunshine and panoramic views over London. Places are filling up fast but […]

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Welcome to the Virgin STRIVE Challenge

Hello! Welcome to the Virgin STRIVE Challenge! We’re delighted that you have visited our website where you will find out more about the Challenge, the people involved and why we are doing it. We first came up with the idea nearly a year ago – it been a huge process getting this far and thank […]

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Big Change and Life Skills

You would be right in thinking that the Virgin STRIVE Challenge is a little out of the ordinary. For starters, the physical challenge is unlike any other but more importantly, we think it really reflects some of Big Change’s core beliefs about the skills that young people need to become happy and healthy individuals. The […]

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