Archive for September, 2012

The Dry Area.

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Sunday 30th finished in Chazon, Cordoba Province. Ran 46km today from Ausonia.

Cops are giving me grief for running with Nirvana on the road. I tell them it’s safer than a bicycle as it’s same width and I am facing the traffic and can exit into the long grass shoulder whenever I like. The problem is really ignorance as something like Nirvana is unknown! It’s the same problem as in the USA with people pestering the cops with calls, then they are obliged to come out and investigate.

I just want to get to the next province La Pampa as quickly as possible and am hoping for a better shoulder, but doubt it as all of Argentina is the same. The further south I go, the less traffic there will be, so that will be a break.

Am in a gas station on their wifi

Todays 46km run was great, ran mostly with a tailwind and got in before what looked like a thunder and lightening storm with spitting rain. No storm in the end.

  In Central Cordoba Province. It’s a big province.

Saturday 29th I ran my 22,000th km.

Total after Sunday = 22,073km for 529 road days.



After running out of Recreo and on towards the so-called dry area where Clayton told me he almost suffered from heat stroke I was told to watch out very closely for sudden changes to the landscape.

I was watching very closely as there had been hundreds of trees growing along the highway.

Then suddenly without warning they were all gone. Somehow in a momentary lapse of concentration I had missed the change. If I had been travelling with my own transport I would have returned to see the cut-off point, I don’t think it was gradual, I believe it was a sudden change.



Then again after running over the Cordoba province line the grass miraculously changed from sand to grass, then to a forest of endless  trees behind the highway fencing, so many trees, so claustrophobic, growing so close to each other, it was amazing they survive in this almost desert like conditions.

A couple of Gringo motor bikers sped by as I crossed the line, they barely had time to wave a hand, stone faced down the highway missing such detail from the side of the road as this:

If you speed you miss such detail.

That day I managed to secure water at a police checkpoint and again at a ranch after another ranch couldn’t provide any due to a faulty pump. I had a large supply anyway but thought it prudent to fill up at any opportunity anyway.

I got a water bottle filter as well as a hand-held UV sterilizing device to use on suspect water if necessary.

Unlike in Bolivia and Peru water here in Argentina is safe to drink from just about anywhere in the country.

On I ran along highway 60. It was tough, humid and hot. Insects were a pest, when I blew my nose dead flies came out. No flies on me, as we would say in Ireland :)

39km that tough day not counting the 3km from the highway to the village of San Jose de Salinas.  

Stopping at a shop to stock up I was told that the village had a population of 400 souls and everyone is great there. I asked for some hot water for my thermos and headed off to the village park to camp for the night. One of the great village people saw me just as I was putting the final peg into the tough semi grass ground. It was dark, he called out to see who I was, so I told him I was a gringo running around the world.

After that reply I didn’t blame him for calling  the cops. I watched from a distance as he dialled.

 A big man came out to investigate, like he had just gotten out of bed in a hurry!

 He put out his hand to shake mine. I hesitated as he was not in uniform, instead I just showed him by business card and explained what I was about. When I trusted he was okay I offered him my hand telling him that I hesitated thinking he might be a bit loco, we both laughed.

All this time he was  shinning his flashlight at me. He  was great in the end as he told me I shouldn’t have camped there but somewhere else, but as I had my tent set up that I could stay where I was.

From San Jose de Salinas to Quilino was a bitch of a day. My progress was slow as I stopped many times to rehydrate and rest. Only 28km but I was shattered, that was the only really tough, seriously tough day in the 120km three day dry area, but I have had worse days and live to tell the tale.

It doesn’t take long for road dirt to stick to my sun blocked face, no matter how many times I wash my face I seem to look more and more like a ragamuffin!

Salt stains my clothing in this humid, hot weather. I was told it’s a balmy 50c in the summer in January. It’s even too warm to sleep indoors at that time. In the summer many people sleep out in their gardens. Many houses in the rural areas don’t even have doors, just a curtain in it’s place.

In Quilino I spent the entire evening and early morning over two big meals in La Posta restaurant in a truck stop. They had wifi, as do many gas stations and restaurants on this route. That is very handy for me now that I am also reunited with my laptop. In fact I even bought a modem stick and some pay as you go internet service which looks like it was a waste of money as so far I have had enough service at these type places and when I don’t I am usually too tired to bother with the modem anyway. Perhaps further south in the Pampas and Patagonia the modem may be more useful, that is if there is service.

I left the Restaurant after 2am and decided to run the 29km to Dean Funes at night. It was a tough slog as the traffic was heavy as most motorists seem to prefer night time cool travel, which surprised me as surely they have air conditioned vehicles. Because of the traffic I was stuck in the potholed shoulder for the entire run and hardly got out of a fast walk pace, still it was 29km before breakfast and not to be sneezed at!

The plan was to run two stages that day, so I did and after another wifi breakfast and early lunch in the YPF gas station I headed out on up the highway. The afternoon was cool, just nice, so I had a lovely run with a decent tailwind and enjoyed my second gallop that day, all of the 22km to Avellaneda.

On the way I saw the aftermath of a truck crash off  the road. An obvious case of a speedster. I am sorry but I find it hard to have sympathy for drivers that put others in danger. Only sympathy for the innocent. However thankfully nobody hurt or worse.

 Regular readers will know I don’t play the politically correct line like many travel writers who expect you to read between the lines. I tell it as it is, so you read on the line, bang on the line and get the true story, however unpopular it may be to tell the truth.

If you speed you definitely lost.

All in all I have found the Argentines to be very well mannered on the road, amongst the best drivers of the run so far, which is not what I remember from my cycling days here so many years ago.

Just like the Bolivians they often just flash their lights instead of all the stupid get out of the way Peruvian honking.

 In fact I have hardly had a bad-tempered honk here. I have a lot of time for these people, they are soft, gentle and not an aggressive nation.

This section of road is moderately busy, so even though it’s just two lane I can still run often as much as a kilometre on the road before running into the gravel or grass shoulder. What happens is I look behind every 10 or 15 seconds and if there is nothing behind and I have an approaching vehicle I wave my right hand, water bottle in hand and the driver always moves out for me. As they approach I usually give another thumbs up wave of acknowledgement. Often they just move out for me without my signal, when they do that I know there is obviously nothing coming up behind me. Perhaps they have seen me on the road before, I know they have respect as most wave, so respect is mutual. Like the endless YPF tankers that constantly drive by, they almost all always give me a good luck honk. In a strange sort of way they remind me of the freight train drivers in Nebraska, they also hooted but from a distance across the prairies. I am sure they wondered also what I was up to, perhaps seeing me so much and every day a bit further on up the road we built up a relationship of sorts, even if they could identify me, but I can’t see  them, for me it’s impossible to know them, but I feel a strong kinship.

 I never really appreciated honks from behind for safety reasons but here one can only love the good-natured Argentines.

As I have said before it’s the almost silent over takers from behind that pose the most danger to me. And it’s not just the over taker as they can clearly see me but the over taker behind that over taker whose view may be obstructed that is the real danger. An added threat here is the Argentine habit of closely following the vehicle in front even at high speed presumably tail winding to save fuel, or to get closer to over take the on the narrow roads. Either way, it’s the same threat to me and I need to be forever vigilant.

That days two stager gave me 51 for the day with the second stage being literally a breeze! It took me to a small village called Avellaneda. In the village I went into Chango’s bar and restaurant and had a delicious meaty milanese sandwich.

Chango was very friendly as was another man called Christian.

With Christian left and Chango

Christian invited me to an asado bar-b-q that night. I agreed even thought I didn’t really want to as remember I didn’t sleep last night at all and that was after a very tough day the day before.

Before I left Chango gave me a 2 litre bottle of water and went over to the cop shop to get permission for me to camp in the village park. Just as I was getting ready to pitch my tent two elderly cops came over and told me it would be better to camp under a covered church area. The covered area was just like a windowless barn attached to the side of the church, I hardly needed a tent as it was a warm night and there are no mosquitoes in this area.

However I did pitch the tent, I planning to sleep for just an hour before the asado and was delighted that I was not disturbed. I slept well that night, all 12 hours of it :)


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VIDEO. Here I Go Again On My Own!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

To view the video of my restart after my recent timeout press HERE

Also… I know many readers also took a timeout from my blog during my timeout in which I posted about 8 catch up postings, please read back when you got the time!

Also Encore…. Did you hear my radio interview? If not press HERE to listen.

Also PPS Encore… New footage of my run through Mexico, mostly under escort. Press HERE to view.

And if you still want more punishment! On the You Tube side panel are some more recent videos you may have missed.

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Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Since entering Argentina at the end of July there has hardly been a day when I haven’t seen several shrines dedicated to the mythical, almost cult-like figure of Gauchito Gil, or more commonly known as Gaucho Gil.
The rest of Latin America has shrines in memory of their deceased by the roadside, less so here in Argentina.
In their place it seems are Gaucho Gill places of worship along the highway.
Painted, flagged and decorated always in fire engine red. Many of the shrines have letters written to the man himself, people even leave bottles of wine and cigarettes!
When I first noticed these shrines, I used to joke and ask people if Gaucho Gil was a communist, that usually gave them a big laugh.
The story I am getting from people at the roadside is unlike any of the versions below – I am getting a story of a man – almost like a patron saint for travellers –  just like Saint Christopher, I guess.
Below is some information on the legend of Gaucho Gil courtesy of Wikipedia, sorry about all their links.

Gaucho Gil. Courtesy of Wikepedia

 The Gauchito Gil is a religious figure, object of popular devotion in  Argentina. Its historical background is in the person of the gaucho Antonio Mamerto Gil Núñez, of whom little is known with certainty.
 It is not within the Catholic Liturgy.

Born in Pay Udder, near Mercedes, in the Province of Corrientes, around 1840 and was killed on 8 January 1878 , about 8 km from Mercedes.

The legend

With minor differences, there is more than one version on its history.

 Most widespread version

Antonio Gil was a gaucho worker rural, worshipper of “Death Saint” who had an affair with a wealthy widow. This earned him the hatred of the brothers of the widow and the local police Chief, who had courted the same woman. Given the danger, Gil left the area and enlisted to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) against Paraguay. After his return, he was recruited by the Autonomist party to fight in the civil war correntina the opposition Liberal Party, but it deserted. Since desertion was crime, was caught, hanging from his foot in a tree of “espinillo”, and killed by a cut in the throat. Gil told his executioner that you should pray on behalf of Gil for the life of his son, who was very sick; the executioner did so and her son miraculously healed. He gave Gil body a proper burial, and people who learned about the miracle built a sanctuary, which grew until today.

Take the tradition of wrapping with red flags or paint red the sanctuaries of worship Gauchito Gil, given it is the color that characterizes the autonomist party Of Corrientes Province.


Second version

Another version tells that Gil was an abigeo that congració with the poor. Recruited to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance, he defected and he was pursued. When captured him for the crimes he committed, a Commissioner was about to shoot under a tree, and Gauchito Gil said to him: «do not kill me, we will get the letter of my innocence». The Commissioner replied: ‘ as you will not save», and the Gauchito said: «When the Charter will receive the news that your son is dying because of a disease;» «When llegues reza by me and your son is going to save, because today you will be shedding the blood of an innocent». At that time was believed to be invoking the blood of an innocent miraculous. Arriving at his home in Mercedes, the Commissioner found his sick son, prayed for him on behalf of the Gauchito Gil and his son was healed. The Commissioner returned to where it was the body of Gauchito Gil and given burial.

 Third version

Gauchito Gil headed a group of autonomist thugs who went from village to village plundering, robbing the rich (to give it to the poor) and killing all Liberal who crossed on their way. He was devotee of San La Muerte and said that it was impossible to kill shot. He was captured by a group of men of the Liberal Party and slaughtered close to Mercedes Corrientes.

 Sanctuary and worship

Currently, the shrine built on the site of his tomb (located about 8 km from the city of Mercedes) receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year,[3] [4] especially on 8 January, anniversary of the death of Gil.
The cult of Gauchito Gil has been extended from the Province of Corrientes to the rest of the country, among other province of Chaco, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Mendoza, Buenos Aires province and even in the Federal Capital and Province of Tierra del Fuego.[5] Shrines of Gauchito Gil, characterized by having flags and red ribbons are also shrines throughout urban and rural roads of the Argentina. The faithful of the Gauchito Gil often also are of San La Muerte since its history is strongly linked to this one.

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UPDATED TEXT AND PHOTOS> Headwind Into Cordoba.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Tuesday 25th Taking a rest day in Cordoba. Spent the whole morning being interviewed by the Irish Examiner. Details of the publication date at a later stage,

Monday was a tough run. But a pleasurable run. Sunday I had a glorious 48km day with a tailwind for most of the way. I was a bit disappointed when I finished early in Jesus Maria as such tailwind days are rare and I was still full of running-  there was still more daylight time – and wouldn’t have minded an extra hour or twos running.

Just before Jesus Maria town I stopped to take refuge at a bus shelter and put my feet up for a while as it was pretty hot that day.

Today, I didn’t get started till very late as the woman in the hotel I stayed in  in Jesus Maria didn’t turn up this morning till 11.00am. The trouble was I had washed my clothes which she had hung them up to dry for me in a locked off area! She neglected to tell me that she didn’t live there!

Maybe she hit the bottle after helping me up the stairs with Nirvana. I knocked over her flower pot and then told her the soft drinks were on me! Then I asked her if she would be here in the morning to help me down, what a nerve, what a gentleman.

No worries... The soft drinks are on me!

 I think I will get a compact canvas hold-all bag for taking the heavy stuff up stairs to lighten Nirvana for going up stairs in future. Also I can use the empty bag as a body liner for Nirvana when I am on the road.

Once out on the road I ran almost the whole 55km into a very strong headwind, so strong it was even blowing over fences along the highway.

The wind was so strong it blew down fences! Argentina doesn't do hard shoulders as you can see!

 There was very little decent shoulder  for me to run on, mostly gravel and grass. The traffic on this section of road to Cordoba was incredibly hectic, perhaps one of the busiest sections of road on the entire world run. I battled on pushing Nirvana as I went. Most of the earlier hours seemed to be uphill  slightly, hard to tell running into such fierce wind.

The day was cool, pretty cool even cold at times, I would settle for that anytime.

On I ran, running almost non stop except for a very late lunch at a nice comedor. Steak, eggs and chips. My progress was slow, but progressive. I am enjoying the running now so much, more now than in the last year. I am now very much motivated for big, big days. The body is holding up well, I feel I can up the tempo anytime I want. Things are just nice now. Eventually I made it across the Siquia river and on into the heart of  Cordoba, Argentina’s 2nd city, a city of some 1,300,000 inhabitants, many of them Italian immigrants.

Cordoba is very much a rugby area with some 20 rugby clubs. I spoke to one man wondering if Cordoba was a famous wine producing area… We are famous for wine he laughed, but not for it’s production, we are famous for drinking it!

While I was waiting for the lady this morning I checked out the backpackers hostel on hostels.com which Clayton from my last blog recommended to me. It was full. So I booked another one, a really nice place called Che Salguero Youth Hostel near the bus terminal. The beauty of booking it was that I knew where I was going tonight as it was so late when I arrived that the last thing I would have wanted would have been trying to hunt down a place to stay. From Googlemaps I drew out my map on the back of a business card. It was very easy to find, just about an hours run down J.B. Justo avenue across about 40 city blocks, the hardest part was getting Nirvana up and down so many pavements. I ran on the road when it was safe in the busy city.

These backpacker hostels are usually full of interesting characters, so nice to speak English again with someone other than myself :)

There is always a very friendly spirit, I can relax for a night knowing my possessions will be safe as I  have never heard of anything been stolen from a backpackers hostel, despite people leaving their laptops and mobile phones etc lying around. Also the cost is very competitive and I would have been expecting to pay double had I stayed elsewhere. Often breakfast is included along with free wi-fi.

55km run today. Total: 21,864km for 524 road days.

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Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Update Sunday 23rd.  Total to date: 21,809km for 523 road days. Average per day = 41.7km
48km today, Sunday. Felt strong all day
Saturday 51km. That was run in two stages…  Very am! 29km  pm 22km
Tomorrow Monday I will run the about 55km to Cordoba city.

If you have never clicked on any of my suggested song links please, please open this one and have a tissue ready as I try to make up to Nirvana, my trusty Chariot Carriers Cougar 1 jogging stroller in which I will carry my baggage, food and water.

At the end of September last year I sent her on from Southern Mexico to Buenos Aires for safety reasons preferring to run Central America and the Andes with just a backpack.


You can hear her singing back to me as we are both clowns of the world, well as the song goes!


Back on the road, back at last, back to before….

” But wait Tony before you start chargin’  down the road, before you run from km 711 are you not forgetting something!? ”

“What who said that?”

“It’s me, Tony, It’s Nirvana and I am so broken-hearted that you dumped me in southern Mexico and all because I drank one too many tequilas and looked funny at a cactus and what did you do??

” What? ”

“You sent me onto Buenos Aires to last tango with John Boyle and a Mayo man too!”

” Ah Nirvy why don’t you give my head a rest! So you tracked me down here and now we are on our way to Ushuaia! ”

” Off You go Tony! Off on your own! “   :)

” What I cant do that, I need you to carry my great new tent I got from Great Outdoors, It’s so tall it can even get your big head in at night! ”

” What’s it called? ”
“ Its a Vango 250 Alpha

“I also need you to carry more water.”

” So how come you didn’t need me after Mexico? ”

” Well the roads were too tight, the bends I mean and then there was the Andes, all 7,000km of those massive mountains where it was difficult enough for me to push myself without pushing your big red,grey and white A** over as well! ”

” Well you got to beg me! ”


Take me back, Take me back to before!

” I know how to get you running faster Tony! ”

” Spare me, Spare my poor ears, ok lets have it! ”

“You know the way a donkey chases a carrot on a stick and never gets it? Well how about you chase my front wheel as you push me? ”

” You think I’m a donkey! ”

” Donkey Tony! Donkey Tony, Lets run Donkey! ”

” You know it took me an hour to find this km 711 as the bus came back into town a different way to where I left off before my timeout. I could have left from the bus station I guess as that was a mutual point I had been to before but, it just didn’t seem right as this was my declared start finish location, so I slugged you around town and back and forward down route 38 till I found it! ”


So I ran out of J.B. Alberdi noting the temperature to be 42c.

I got whacked with a 42c restart!

Yes it’s hot, darn hot! It had been a late afternoon start and I did well to reach El Concha just 22km away. I had done little or no running in the last month, except for my running club MSB annual Glen trophy 10km handicap, my speed long since departed these legs, enough said.

At the junction to Taco I spotted a nice restaurant and thinking it would also be a nice camping spot too I decided to stop for a meal.

Sure enough, the owner was a friendly sort. I had a huge milanesa dinner with more than enough left over for breakfast.

I could tell when I showed my Spanish business card to the owner before asking if I could camp around the side that it wouldn’t be a problem. In fact he even sent out his waiter, a pleasant lad called David to help me put the tent up.

As mentioned this tent has a high roof,so Nirvana rolled in smoothly.

The very next day and back in the swing of things with a 45km day. Just before the Santiago province line I had that much dreamt of moment; looking ahead and not a mountain in sight,

Not a mountain in sight.. The end of the Andes

I may as well be in Nebraska, and then when I looked behind the mountains were all behind me :)

The Andes defeated.

Adios Los Andes! :)

Well I was more or less out of them when I ran into Jujuy, as much of the previous few days were descending.   But the mountains were always looming to my left, right or rear as I ran through that northern Argentine region. It can take several hundred kilometres to see the back of a large mountain range like the Andes. It would be another couple of days before this rear view faded away.

It’s still hot, not sure what the temperature is, around 35c. I am taking lots and lots of  High5  Zero Xtreme electrolytes. Berry is my favourite flavour. I no longer have a need for sodas as this drink mix is even tastier as well as keeping me well hydrated.

I stopped at a finca or small ranch for water and was invited in to rest a while by the owners wife Maria. Her husband had a horse riding accident breaking his ankle in a stirrup. He will be out of work for about four months. On the way in I was told I was lucky as the dogs are ‘ Malo Peros ’ or Bad Dogs.

After 51km that day I had to be content with sleeping behind a hedge at the side of the road. I didnt bother with the tent as the nights are always dry this time of year. The distances between lodgings are growing and growing.

More good days, a 47km, 59 and 53 were to follow due to a couple of overcast days and one tough hot slogger of a day.  Am getting back into the swing of things but it’s still tough. I am a bit overheated as I could be wearing lighter clothing, but I need something rugged under my singlet to carry my passport in. I believe the best way to keep a passport safe is a stitched in pocket with the passport in a zip-loc bag; not the press together type but the zipper one. My passport never leaves my body, only for a shower or when locked in my hotel room. Hotels,  yes they are distant memories!

I also met Clayton a South African cyclist spending a few months cycling around northern Argentina. He intends to cycle up as far as Colombia.

Clayton is an avid birdwatcher, me too here in Argentina :)

I have met many cyclists who combine their hobbies with a cycle besides Clayton I have met artists, mountain climbers with ropes and all.

A great way to travel, combine your hobby.

Clayton gave me the low-down on my upcoming route from Recreo to Quilino which as he said caught him by surprise as he drank an incredible amount of water and was near to suffering from heat stroke. It’s 120km, hot, dry with just about 3 or 4 places to water up. Often water wells are dried up on ranches as I was to find in one of the places he mentioned. Still best to prepare.

Just before Frias I found a small roadside eatery. It was only 5km to Frias but why wait, I had the hottest meal I can ever remember having, yes I was thinking of all those cold Peruvian and Bolivian meals as I was waiting for my meat and rice stew to cool. I had a very nice chat with some people there and was embarrassed when a man insisted on paying for my lunch!

That night I stopped at a farm with a restaurant attached and had another wonderful pasta dinner. After dinner I drank mate, a herbal tea which is drank from a mate bowl via a bombilla.The mate tea is then topped up with hot water from a kettle or thermos. The mate is passed around.

Drinking mate tea

They allowed me to camp at the back of the restaurant.

For the dry spell ahead, I  stocked up earlier than necessary buying more food than necessary, you know me.

I did that in a nice friendly village called San Antonio.

The lady in the store went to great trouble by drawing out a detailed map of my route to Cordoba, telling me my map was useless! So there are many water spots it seems that Clayton didn’t find. Do I really need all this food I thought as I looked at all the stuff I had just paid for. About 8 cans, pasta and lots of biscuits and crackers. I am sure I don’t need this much but hadn’t the heart to put them back on the shelf after the trouble this lady went to!

Thats what I call a map!

These women are assertive, once again I reflect back to Bolivia and Peru. She gave me a bottle of soda and a 1ltr carton of choc milk to pack onto a struggling Nirvana!

The wonderful ladies in San Antonios supermarket added to my supplies for the dry area.

That night I stopped in Recreo where the dry spell begins. I got a delicious pizza in Rossa restaurant and when I tell the owner what I am about my two teas are on the house! I stayed in an hotel and was lucky to get it as the first six I tried were all full.. Construction workers on projects pose me problems like this sometimes. I felt I needed this night to freshen up and prepare for the dry road ahead.

Besides I don’t want to break any shower records, an 8 day  non shower record I set in a barren area of Mexico!


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Back Running!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Posted 21/9/12 From Quilino, Cordoba.

Hi All,

In Quilino, Cordoba province, North Argentina. Been running a week now. I notice the difference in the month off that I had. The southern hemisphere just has two seasons, winter and summer. We are heading for summer now. I was told that in January the stretch I have just run would be 50c. That would have surely been tough, am sure I would have run it at night.

 Its now around 32/35c at its peak and I am having some tough days and a couple of delightful cool days, so it’s just a case of keep chipping away at it. 

The totalizer to date reads. 21,682km for 520 road days.

This is by way of just a quick update. I did not include today’s tough 28km as earlier I made it to a wifi restaurant called La Posta in this junction town called Quilino.

 I am considering running tonight as it’s safe here, but will see. If this restaurant is open all night then perhaps I will work all through the night and then run tomorrow and back into the heat, I will see.

Further south, perhaps as early as next week I expect the heat will ease off as I run south of Cordoba city.

In a few weeks time as I approach Patagonia which is noted more for its fierce winds than excessive heat!

You can see on the map of Argentina that once I get south of Cordoba city that thankfully the roads are pretty much straight and directly south, so not much time lost as I have in the last year in switch-back routes and the like.

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Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Hi Everyone,

I am still in Buenos Aires sorting out some logistics for the rest of the run.

Sunday before I left Dublin after my three week timeout  I went out with the family for lunch before going to the airport that night for my early morning flight to Buenos Aires. It was so nice to get back and see my Mam and sisters family again.


Many thanks to my great hosts and friends John Boyle,  his wife Argentine Clara and their 5 year old identical twin girls Sofia and Paula for being so helpful to me.

John, Sofia, Paula and Clara.

Wonderful people. Last night we ate the huge fry up I smuggled over on the plane! :) Plus drank  lots of Barrys tea!

John, originally from England, who we all consider to be as Irish as ourselves often wears his Mayo GAA shirt proudly as he used to holiday with the family there as a youngster. When he was older he worked in construction near Balina for ten years.  He is also a great Luton Town fan who even has a sign outside his house reading ‘ car parking  reserved for Luton Town fans. ’

He has been minding Nirvana up in his loft for almost a year now, so I guess he also reserves parking for Dublin fans also.  :)    Even if Mayo did beat the Dubs in the All Ireland recently!

He ran a pb for a half marathon on Sunday (the day before I got back to BA, well timed lazy Mangan!)  So too did Michael his friend from Kilkenny. At the start of the race a mad man drove his car the wrong way down Alcorta Avenida towards the runners. Luckily nobody was hurt.

Mad driver at the start of Sundays Buenos Aires half marathon

After the race, while still celebrating their great pb’s John and Michael had a great excuse to go out to a bar to watch Kilkenny draw with Galway in the All-Ireland hurling final. The lads then decided to rehydrate on huge amounts of alcohol ending up in a state of talking incoherent jibberish!

 I expect to take a bus back to my finishing location in JB Alberdi tomorrow Thursday, the bus leaves Buenos Aires at 5pm, it is about a 20/24 hour journey, so too late to start running on Friday. It looks like I will make my restart from where I finished last month on Saturday. I will be taking Nirvana with me. It may be a bit difficult to manage as the bus only allows passengers to carry 15kilos of baggage. Nirvana alone weighs that!

This morning at 9am  I was first in the door of the Australian embassy. I applied for a 6 month visitors visa. By 5pm, just 8 hours later I had an email to say my visa application was accepted :)

Attached to the email was a letter with my visa which I just produce at the border.. What a great system, no need to leave a passport in their embassy for two weeks unlike certain difficult countries!

Many thanks to Jerry O Donovan of the Irish Embassy here in Buenos Aires for helping with my initial enquiries and for smoothing the path for me, also  the wonderful Australian office manager Maria Ines for granting me this often hard to obtain 6 month visa  :)

Just as I was leaving the embassy I lost control and shouted out….

” I’m as happy as a bastard on Father’s Day after receiving my Australian visa. I can’t wait to hit the frog and toad down under….”  Tony are you loosing it? Are you going down?  :(

Then I took out my Australian/English dictionary and translated it….

”  I am really pleased to receive my Australian visa. I can’t wait to get on the road there. ”

Thats better Tony :)    Its a LONG WAY DOWN!  PLAY

Having said that, there is no better time than the present to announce that in the last couple of weeks I have had an offer by a very experienced ultra runner, masseur  and crew man who is excited at the thought of crewing for me through Australia!! I am excited too!!

His name is Michael Gillan from Melbourne, Australia. Thank you so much Michael.

Hawkers try selling all kinds of items on the subways. Even overpriced Argentine maps, he is looking for US$ 16 for this, crazy prices!

Because of this offer I have changed my Australian route to my dream route –  the old pioneer route, right through the center of Australia.Because of this new route Tasmania now comes back into the route making my route even more joined up.

 After Tasmania. I will run from Melbourne, departing around St Patrick’s Day. I will run right through Alice Springs and the Northern Territories as far as Darwin in the north :) Arriving there  mid to late June. By the way my plan is to finish off South America by Christmas and run the two New Zealand islands in January and February.

It will be hot, very hot but I will have a support vehicle and a great crew man. And I will be over dosing on High5 Sports Nutrition which have kept me well hydrated over my 7,000km route over the Andes mountains.

Tasmania route press HERE

Australia route press HERE

My Irish timeout also gave me the opportunity to reexamine my Asia route, which had already been thoroughly researched. After about 8 late nights I came up with a shorter route across Central Asia, saving about 3,000km. It just happens one of my friends is walking through there at the moment! That is the Gobi Desert, see Christoph’s comments below!

I have many great friends to call on for much valuable information and advice. Some of them ex SAS officers, world runners,  2 world walkers, trans continental walkers like my German friend  Christoph Rehage on his second walk Across China. Christophe has always been a purist walker carrying a backpack but I did notice him pushing a cart recently in one of his photos. He gave me a very interesting reply tonight.

” Hey Tony Yes, I have been pulling a cart since 2000kms, it’s much better to haul all that water and food around.
The gobi desert is easy to navigate because there are not many roads. You are not allowed to use a GPS in China if you are a foreigner. This could be a problem. And in many parts, you will not find water or people for more than 50, 100, or even 150 km.
 But it’s still fun! : “
Christoph Rehage


Another man out there running around the world is Tom Denniss of Australia. Though Tom only started on New Years day he is no longer a novice having amassed a huge total, 11,500km. He  is currently running through Kentucky.  Tom is one of the small club of three world runners. check out his site www.tomsnextstep.com


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Thursday, September 13th, 2012


Jesper Olsen with friends at the end of his second world run.

One man I cant applaud enough, tough as nails and a long overdue mention to my great friend,  fellow ultra runner and fellow world runner Jesper Olsen who recently finished his SECOND WORLD RUN!!!!

There is hardly an hour in every day when I don’t reflect on Jespers remarkable toughness! How he kept up his incredible pace throughout his two world runs and having only walked for about 3 ten minute periods in a total of over 65,000km I will never know!

Jesper Olsen many Congrats!!!!

Jesper is one of the sports nicest guys! No ego nor chip on his shoulder, always willing to help and advise other  runners. Jesper finished that second world run, running  over 200km km on his  very last day!  Then after he got his breath back he even took the time to email me from St. Johns airport, Newfoundland  offering his help and services to me. What a guy! :)

  His last few weeks were over the same route that I ran in my very first weeks of this run but in the opposite direction.

Please check out Jesper Olsen’s website a true hero www.worldrun.org


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Friday, September 7th, 2012


Hi Everyone. I will be returning to Argentina on Monday. It will take me a couple of days to get running as I have to get Nirvana set up for the road. I will then make a 24 hour bus ride to get back to where I finished in J.B. Alberdi, Province of Tucuman before this timeout.

As promised here is my updated blog. I have made about 7 or 8 postings over the last 3 days, as always a lot to write about and I ask for your patience as some are long! I will upload the pictures as soon as possible. To catch up fully on the blog please read back as far as


Click on link above if you haven’t heard my Irish radio interview.

As I said that’s about 7 or 8 postings!


 Welcome to Argentina! The officials stopped me from taking a proper picture :(


 Crossing the border from Bolivia to Argentina was like crossing from Mexico to the USA. Running from a poor country to a more affluent society, though obviously still a Latino country Argentina has long since promoted itself as ” The Switzerland Of South America. “
Perhaps much of its forward thinking mentality is due to large, mainly European settlements all over this vast country.
Many people believe this began with the large German influx after the second world war, however the reason those German immigrants settled there in the first place was because as early as the 1880′s Europeans, mostly Germans settled in the South American country, so there was already a large base there.
 Actually I saw it for myself while I was queuing up for almost two hours at the border. There was a motorbike parked at the side of the road which had an Irl Irish sticker next to the licence plate. At first I though the owner was Irish but then when I saw that the registration plate was indeed Argentine and it was a small 200 cc bike I decided the owner was indeed a local.
The owner from a nearby town approached me while pleading for me to take a photo of the ” Malvinas son Argentinas! ” (The Falklands Belongs to Argentina) a sign at the border.
 This is the same propaganda one sees all over Argentina. Schools, streets and even villages are named, Malvinas son Argentinas.

Over 5,000km to the end of the road in the Americas!

 His name was Carlos, born here but proud of his Irish ancestry.
I enjoyed that first day after I crossed with my 90 day visa in my hand. I asked for a longer one but was told it was not the norm to issue more than 90 days. I will have to extend it later or leave the country and return for another 90 days.
That first day I took a rest day just wandering around enjoying such luxuries as olive oil on thickly cut bread, real hot food and yes that much dreamt of steak :)
It was my first rest day after 27 consecutive road days. Country number 15 here I come.
 Argentina is special to me, she happens to be my favorite country in the world, a country I have loved these last 29 years.
 I spent almost all of 1983 travelling in South America, of which 5 months were here in the Puma country.
Oh yes its great to be back, delicious hot food, hot showers and paper napkins on the table.
The bathroom in this hotel, Hotel Frontiera even has a bidet! Compare that with Peru and Bolivia where restaurant and hotel owners just popped a broken toilet seat in a sink to tell people there was no water supply, very much a hard luck we ain’t got it and why are you bothering me for mentality there.
Yes it’s great to be back to what I feel is the western world.
Litter? Yes still a little bit, but not as much as most of the other Latino countries I have run through. Also, thankfully very little stupid car horn honking here.
That first day was a windy day as I ran from the border at km marker 1975. I was south and bound for Ushuaia, the end of the road in the Americas, almost 5,000km away.
It was so windy that many of the signposts were broken. Why they use wooden signposts is a mystery to me.

The wodden signpost just keep breaking by the heavy wind.

Anyone reading this blog who is gasping for a cigarette please make your way to km marker 1,969 as there were no less than 12 cigarettes spread out and all within a 3 metre distance.. The great cigarette mystery continues across the border from Bolivia to Argentina.
That night I stopped in Puma Huasi. There was nowhere to stay, the nights are not so cold now, but it is always nice to have a comfortable bed and secure room.
I noticed a school house with about four classrooms in a courtyard. A light was still on in the school’s office. I went walked in through the gate and knocked on the office door. Nobody there, I guess someone just forgot to turn it off.
While I was there I checked the classroom doors and discovered that one of the classrooms had a door with a broken lock. That will do nicely for a place to sleep tonight, but as I was very hungry, off I went to the village looking for something to eat.
Around and around I walked and eventually found a store which was closed. In the window there a sandwich for sale sign.
 I knocked and asked the nice couple there if they would make me a sandwich, no problem at all, nice people.

I was able to get a sandwich after hours in this shop and boil up some water in my beaker with my beverage heater as shown.

They also let me plug in my beverage heater to boil up some water for coffee.
The man walked me back to the highway towards the police station as he said he knows the officers there and I could probably stay there. The police station was closed, no worries I had my place to stay anyway and besides tomorrow is Sunday, so that’s tonight sorted and just as well as it’s a chilly one! I just lay out my summer sleeping bag in a corner and settled down to sleep.

The classroom door was open, so I just settled down to sleep out of the cold night air,

A 50km windy day followed by a marathon got me into a nice stride here in the north of Argentina. It’s an expensive country, that’s for sure.
The landscape is really boring now, like running in the desert again but to be honest it doesn’t bother me, it has to be run through and that’s what I will do. The wind continues to be swirling and strong, just like a couple of thousand kilometres south in Patagonia. Down there in Patagonia the wind is infamous. I was not really expecting it to be this strong this far north.
There is no paved shoulder whatsoever, just gravel at the side. There are a lot of loose chipping and sharp stones – already after a few days here the soles of my feet are very sore.
I arrive in a small town called Humahuaca noting signs for a nearby volcano. Such signage only means tourists and high prices to me!
Sure enough I stop at a couple of hostals and am shocked when the prices are 45-60 dollars, what’s going on this is as expensive as the USA or Europe!
I am thinking that I may just have to go back to the highway and find a place to sleep under the stars as it’s a nice pleasant evening.
So I try another place, it’s even more expensive. This time instinct tells me to take out a business card and show it to the owner. Sure enough he takes an interest in the run. His hotel is full, his name is Carlos, so he makes a phone call to a friend that has a small economy place a few blocks away.
Bingo! I got a place for $8 a bargain here but the same kind of place that cost just a dollar or two in some of my other countries. It shares the same building that a watchmaker uses for his workshop, that’s why its called Hostal Relojero.

It's a bit like the desert here.

Next morning I am invited into a large kitchen by a very old lady who says I can boil up some water for coffee and eat my bread and cheese there with her. She tells me she has 8 children, they all live far away. It seems people just work till the day they die in all of Latin America.
Arriving in Humah Uaca I found a backpackers hostal. The staff were sitting on a park wall across the road drinking beer. Can’t say I blame them as Charlie the manager told me the very next morning he would be out of a job as the hostal was being sold to a new owner, so it was no problem him giving me a discount dropping it from $9 to $6 for the night.

I wondered if I would have gotten a bed had I arrived a day later.

That night I had a vicuna steak. Vicuna is much greasier and tougher than the tender llama steak I enjoyed a couple of weeks ago. Vicuna is also a protected species in Peru and Bolivia, I guess not so here in Argentina.

Vicuna steak! Life just gets better :)

In the restaurant I get talking to a man called Christian who is a layer, he is also a photo journalist. He tells me that in Argentina the minimum pay is just 3,800 Argentine pesos, which is around $900 US per month for a 48 hour week. I really don’t know how people make ends meet here.
The Argentine economy has always been a disaster. Argentines have always been victims of rampant inflation. One way they survived was by buying dollars on the black market. Now its illegal for Argentine citizens to be in possession of dollars. There is a thriving black market here for dollars, the official and black market rates are published in the dailies. Official rate around 4.25 pesos while the black market is around 6.4 pesos for the dollar. The reality is it’s not possible to purchase dollars officially. There was a time when the government allowed people to buy small amounts for holiday purposes, then they realized that people were not taking the holiday, just keeping the dollars in an effort to stay ahead of inflation. Life has always been difficult for Argentines, yet with hard work they not only survive but prosper despite all of this.
 In 2001, Argentina was in the midst of a crisis heavily indebted with an economy in complete stagnation – an almost three-year-long recession, and the exchange rate was fixed at one U.S. dollar per Argentine peso by law, which made exports uncompetitive and effectively deprived the state of having an independent monetary policy. Many Argentines, but most especially companies, fearing an economic crash and possibly a devaluation were transforming pesos to dollars and withdrawing them from the banks in large amounts, usually transferring them to foreign accounts capital flight.
On 1 December 2001, in order to stop this draining from destroying the banking system, the government froze all bank accounts, initially for 90 days. Only a small amount of cash was allowed for withdrawal on a weekly basis, initially 250 Argentine pesos then 300, and only from accounts denominated in pesos. No withdrawals were allowed from accounts denominated in U.S. dollars, unless the owner agreed to convert the funds into pesos.  Operations using credit cards, debit cards, cheques and other means of payment could be conducted normally, but the lack of cash availability caused numerous problems for the general public and for businesses.




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Friday, September 7th, 2012

This km marker meant I had run my 500th marathon in just over 507 road days :)

I ran through the northern city of San Salvador de Jujuy, a large spread out city as it took me about three hours to find the road and run through it. On I ran south along highway 9 and connected up with the autopista till I came to a signpost which pointed visitors in the direction of what seemed to be a pretty town called Pirca. Well I am not sure if I took the right road towards Perico but the one I took had a lot of half built social buildings still under construction, dogs, filth and dirt as I ran on and on over a flooded gravel road and no joke an open city dump! There was an uneasy air of danger about the place. I decided against taking out a camera to shoot the place up. Then I ran by half constructed buildings and suddenly arrived at a very nice a pretty plaza. At the corner of the plaza two motor bike cops pointed me to Residencia Perico.
A local grocery store was selling pizzas, so I bought one after he offered to stick it in the oven for me. All the time I waited the man asked about the run and seemed fascinated. When the pizza was cooked he charged me an extra dollar for the cooking, this is what I meant before when I said the gringo gets very few favors in Latin America, screw the gringo for every penny is very much the mentality and I am not talking about poor businesses.
I continued running south on route 9 running past cane fields and then onto a 4 lane highway. The traffic was now very heavy but on a 4 lane highway.  I can even run onto the road lane feels safe as there is room for the drivers to move over to the other lane, if it’s particularly heavy or they don’t move over I just step back onto the sharp gravel.

Just before San Jose de Matan I stopped at a roadside house for some water. The water in Argentina is unlike Peru or Bolivia, it is good quality and can be drank straight from a tap. Unfortunately this man was a mean spirited one. Whereas I have no right to any water I don’t expect to be verbally abused! He did allow me to fill up from his sink, but I had to endure a volley of insults, the poor man I thought as I ran on, people are not like this, as I soon discovered, read on.

Mean spirited old man!

Last night I washed my clothes in the place I stayed in. My running top and socks didn’t quite dry out over night, no worries today I ran with them attached to the back of my pack, spin drying on the run! There was nowhere to stay that night so I just pulled off the road and slept just inside a clean culvert. When necessary I usually clean my area scrapping the site with a piece of car wreckage.
The drivers are very respectful here, including one man that stopped and gave me a drink of orange! Then 4km after San Jose de Metan I clocked up my 500th marathon, or 1,000th half-marathon!  in just a little over 507 road days.

500 marathons or 1,000 half marathons :)

Last night in San Jose de Metan I was walking from the restaurant back  to my hotel. It was dark as I passed a playing field which was very dimly lit. On the same pitch but at opposite ends there was not one but two rugby teams training at that hour and in the dark, their enthusiasm was commendable. When I was half way across Peru someone mentioned to me that Peru is not a sporting nation. I had not realized this but day after day, even at the weekends all I saw were empty football pitches, rarely did I see anyone playing on them. I noticed the same in Bolivia. I don’t think anyone would say that about Argentina, passionate sports people for sure.
I am running in the province of Tucuman now. Tucuman is famous for it’s oranges. Oranges everywhere, even growing on city trees, here they are all over the road, literally falling off  the back of trucks. For a couple of days these oranges kept me going till I got some more substantial food from shops, restaurants or petrol stations. A passer by tossed me a bag containing three oranges which just landed at my feet!

A present from a kind paser by.

I came to a customs checkpoint for trucks and was waved to a halt by this man who gave me hot water for my tea. His female colleague looked me straight in the eye and asked me…
” Why aren’t you married? “
” Because I am running around the world and I aint that crazy! ” I told her.
And then two more colleagues came over and offered me some cocoa leaves! No thanks I will stick to my tea and bread!

No thanks, tea and bread for me!

Once I saw a lemon on the road,
” Tea Time! ”   I shouted, picking it up. In the distance there was a police checkpoint. All offices, petrol stations, police stations or toll booths have water coolers where I can fill up my water bottles, or in this case fill up my beaker with the hot water from the red tap! The officers or workers are always very obliging and helpful. As I sat on a bucket outside this particular checkpoint drinking my lemon flavored tea I telling Marcello all about the run while a bored looking Manuel just looked on. Marcello gave me some delicious bread before I ran on.

Lemon tea time! Thank you Marcello.

Later I stopped for coffee and scones in a truck stop. The women there all wanted to take my photo and gave me sandwiches for the road!

Thank you for the delicious sandwiches!

It was a glorious day. On I ran yes Argentina is just like I remembered it, wonderful people, as I said it’s a bit like being back in the western world. After another hour or so I came to a bridge. I left the road, climbed over a low barbed-wire fense and just lay out my summer bag. This weighs in at around 500grams and is ideal for conditions like these. I fell asleep under a beautiful starry night.
A bit further on down the highway two communication technicians made a u-turn just to see if I needed any water! Alex and Alfonso gave me a couple of one and a half litre bottles of water.

Alex and Alfonso did a u turn and topped up my water tank!

That day I finished at Trancas Junction. I had to send and receive some very important emails. I have decided to take another timeout very soon so things have to be sorted. I had to go 3 km off my route to the town center. Trancas had an internet cafe where I could do my business but no hotel or place to stay. No worries, I need to do my business first and will worry about accommodation later.
It was around midnight when the internet cafe was closing. The only place to stay was back at the junction which was 3km away, so I decided to rough it here in this small town. That night I ended up sleeping in a church yard, luckily a gate was open, so I just walked through and rolled out my sleeping bag in a quiet discrete covered corner.

Stuck for a place to sleep that night I managed to find a quiet covered corner in a church yard.

The next day I am very tired, really tired and it’s a low motivation day as I only run a little. Workmen on a large construction project give me a spare company issued lunch of pasta and milanesa!

Amazing people, it;s like the States and Canada all over again!

I finished for the day at Benjimin Paz, at a petrol station and soon become friends with the staff. I could sleep behind the station  if I wanted but instead commute to San Miguel de Tucuman as I got more urgent work to do. I will return here in the morning.
After doing my business in Tucuman I can’t find a place to stay, it’s the weekend and all the economy beds are all booked up. There are only the fifty and sixty dollar a night places available. So I end up going to the bus station to see if I can get a bus back to Benjimin Paz. I just miss a bus and am told the next one is at 2am so I take that bus and arrive back at the petrol station at 3.30am. I crashed out at a table in the 24 hour restaurant, the staff are very nice as they don’t seem to care.

Malvinas Argentinas.. The Falklands belongs to Argentina signs in many places.

Next day I am predictably even more tired. I am almost through the Andes, but I am shattered both physically and mentally. Yes I need this timeout. I know taking timeouts  probably takes from the quality of the run, but that’s what I have chosen to run the world, that’s what work best for me.
I am sure it must be a great feeling to have crossed the Sahara, about 5,000km. To have crossed it in one go, unsupported and obviously without commutes! To finally walk off that very last grain of sand. To put that vastness behind you and look forward at an ocean, a green pasture, what a feeling that must be. Then there is the supported traveler or in my case the commuter traveler. Even though we all cover exactly the same distance, I would imagine the sense of exhilaration is not as exciting as it would be for the non-stop explorer who  has battled every single element in just the one crossing.
My way is what works for me, sure it’s a compromise. The running is still being run but the quality of the expedition is somewhat substandard. Someone sent me an email asking me why I do it this way and not find a cheap place along the side of the road! I don’t think he was talking from experience!

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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