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hoka-hamstring pulls
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I am an older age grouper with a lot of racing experience.On and off for the past two years (75% of the time) I have been running in Hoka Bondi B's due to persistent Achilles problems. The Hoka's have helped my Achilles which seems fine - at least for now. Over the past year I had a number of hamstring pulls - primarily when increasing intensity. Just recently I went back to my old running shoes and the hamstring problem cleared up. I am beginning to think the hamstring pulls and the Hokas are related as the Hoka's change my foot plant from a forefoot plant to a midfoot plant. Has anyone else experienced this?
Thanks
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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I have seen the same question asked about Newtons. Is there a PT or exercise physiologist who can explain how a running shoe can cause hamstring problems?
I have been suffering for more then 2 years but not a Hoka user. Just curious if someone has a theory.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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Although I didn't experience hamstring issues, I did encounter some rather painful left quad problems when running in Hoka's (Cliftons). I am a lifelong runner and an older AG'er (57yo). As soon as I parked the Hoka's, the issue cleared up. I vowed never to run in them again. It would be nice to hear from the PT's and physiologist's on this forum.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [triathmd] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not a PT but I was recently in PT for a right calf issue with run IM training. My issue was recurrent pain. MRI, nerve testing, X-ray, clot testing, gait analysis, compartment syndrome...everything great.

PT did a full analysis and noticed my left big toe pointed up slightly. He speculated that since my body was not getting proper feedback from my left big toe hitting the ground, it was causing my left side to not fire properly. Therefore, I was loading up my right side too much and my right calf was taking the brunt of my running impact. We did weeks of exercises to teach my big toe to tell my body I had a left side.

So, yeah, I can see if a shoe changes the way your body distributes running impact, you could have issues.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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I run a lot of hills and had/have a lot of problems running in Hokas. Right when I first started tri training I thought they were the best thing ever because they helped with my shin splints. Really all I did was trade that for myriad problems with my Achilles, calves, and hamstrings. Like I said, especially on hills. I have since worked on my form, gone to a minimalist stride, and ditched the hokas. Much better results. I'll have (3) pairs for sale really soon on here. Men's 10. (shameless plug haha)
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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In my humble opinion, there are many misconceptions about the role running shoes play in preventing and/or causing injuries. Running shoes are simply tools that we all use to run and stress our bodies sufficiently to get a desired physiological response. If you look at it this way, it's easier to understand how the misconceptions get started. If the Hoka shoes do not mesh well with your gait and mechanics then it's possible that they could provoke a soreness or injury. But most people appreciate the increased cushioning they provide and are able to run more. On the other hand, if you can run longer in minimalist shoes then that would be the correct tool for you.

Hamstring and calf strains or pulls are caused by running too hard (fast) for your level of conditioning. I've done this many times and it has become progressively more common as I get older. But I doubt my shoes are to blame. I suppose a soft shoe could contribute in the sense that softer shoes absorb more energy and you need to work harder to overcome this if you want to run the same splits. Most runners I know use Hokas for longer training runs but not for hard speed work because they are too squishy. Although you do see many fast age groupers racing in them. I did this until my heel pain resolved.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [triathmd] [ In reply to ]
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There are a few ways a running shoe could contribute to hamstring- in the OP's situation and others, when you move to a shoe with less heel/toe drop, you're increasing mechanically the lever arm, significantly altering the midstance to latestance force development (when the foot transitions from under the body toward toe-off), degree to which hip/knee/foot extension is emphasized prior to toe-off, and potentially altering how initial impact force at foot contact is absorbed/emphasized by a particular muscle group.

For some, it can manifest in the lower leg...for others, hamstring. Many variables for this.

In theory Newtons have a purpose- in practice many hit behind the lug, creating a "negative drop" biomechanically (wear patterns on the lug don't always tell the entire story). For Hoka's, it's not as significant due to the continuous rocker design and slightly higher heel-toe drop than the Newton's.

http://www.reathcon.com
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Rob] [ In reply to ]
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Believe me, my story is completely anecdotal. I don't know if the Hoka's had anything to do with my problems. I do know I could not figure out how to midfoot strike correctly until I got away from them. That was the biggest change for me.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [atomic_shaggy] [ In reply to ]
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You say anecdotal, I say doesn't surprise me at all.

Shoes can assist with proprioception, but no shoe will be the be-all-end-all. Hoka's serve a place just as much as a pair of Merrell trail gloves (or any other shoe). If people alter their run mechanics, they are just as likely to do it in a high heel-toe drop shoe like a Mizuno as they are an Altra, if their approach to changing mechanics is sound.

Once people account for the shoe being able to absorb initial impact (either from the shoe or from the run mechanics), and make sure the rear foot or midfoot shoe structure doesn't create too much or too little pronation (once again, either from the shoe or from from the run mechanics), the rest is comfort and getting in the mileage.

http://www.reathcon.com
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [atomic_shaggy] [ In reply to ]
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"I do know I could not figure out how to midfoot strike correctly until I got away from them."

this makes no sense to me.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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For the way you're talking about hamstring problems I'm guessing they're quite mild and more agrivation rather than a bad pull?

I'm my experience, minor hamstring, calf and achilles issues/tightness is after caused by something quite simple and easy to fix which caused by our modern desk/seated lifestyle, or in the case of triathletes hours sat on a bike! Namely Ttght hips/glute area. The leg muscles nerve supply has to travel through your bum and if there's pressure on it, caused by tightness the signal isn't going to work properly!

It's so simple to fix and doesn't cost anything apart from a small amount of time! There's a really good stretch using a bench/table which will free up your hips/glutes and allow the nerve system to supply the muscles properly! I'll look up a YouTube video of it and post it for you!

It's the one stretch I do everyday now without fail, and this is mainly because I can immediately feel the difference it makes to the way my legs work afterwards!

Try it and see if it works for you!
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know Dan. Like I said, purely anecdotal. I've only been doing tri like 2 years and don't have a bunch of smart people to train with or a coach.. I just know it clicked for me when I switched shoes. Perhaps I could rotate the Hokas back in and get the best of both worlds? I have tried running in them 2x in the last couple weeks with not good results.. But open to other input.

Edit: I'm gonna leave this alone now as I feel like I've thread jacked the OP. Good insight here though.
Last edited by: atomic_shaggy: Jan 23, 16 12:16
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Speedypee] [ In reply to ]
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https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh3gioc_x4I

This isn't the one I was looking for but its A good start!
I tend to start from this position and then move my leg on the table forwards and to the sides and shift my body weight over the leg to really feel the stretch.

You have to hold the stretch for a few minutes on each leg as these muscles are strong and take a long time to allow themselves to relax into the stetch! I'll try and find the other video when I'm on my laptop! Mobiles and internet searching doesn't work well!!!
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [atomic_shaggy] [ In reply to ]
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i only bring this up because low- or no-ramp shoes are typically the cure for those who're looking to midfoot strike.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
i only bring this up because low- or no-ramp shoes are typically the cure for those who're looking to midfoot strike.

Hi Dan. Although Hokas are 4mm ramp from heel to ball of foot, from ball of foot to big toe off, there is an unnaturally massive ramp. What this allows the athlete to do is toe off without actually bending at the ball of foot, in others words a "stiff toe push off". There are some negative implication to them from the first metatarsel head back through the ankle/tarsel tunnel, all the way up the leg. It's not totally right to run with a stiff big toe. I understand that you can still "bend it" but not to the same degee as other shoes where you might also have a better feedback from the big toe, back up the chain, through the hamstrings and glutes. Since the plantar nerve going back from the toes feed back up the chain up the tibial nerve and sciatic nerve, it can see how two things can happen.

  1. You may actually have difficulty mid foot striking and the natural roll/push off from that because you lack feedback from the toes with a hard contact to the ground.
  2. Secondly this altered gait, that one may think they have adjusted to (but it is hard to unlearn all the running people do in a lifetime) may affect activation of the hamstrings, since they are also innervated by the same chain, namely the sciatic nerve.


One of the posters above mentioned his body basically forgetting that one side of his body is there, because Hokas caused him to run without actively using the big toe. I can see the mechanics of how that might come into play.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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i can't stipulate to a number of things you're asserting here. i don't mean to defend the construction of the shoe, but this ought to enhance not detract from midfoot plant. the idea of recognizing where the fulcrum in a running shoe is in a running shoe, and engineering your shoe with this knowledge in mind, is in a number of popular shoes. if you don't like this in a hoka you must hate it in a newton. every shoe has a fulcrum, the only question is whether the shoe designer recognizes it, and takes this into account.

second, i'd rather not call it a ramp because in my parlance a ramp means something, so let's figure out a way to talk about this using another term.

finally, the stiff toe push-off, i don't see or feel any of that. i don't know where you came up with that. i look at the fulcrum of a running shoe the way i'd look at how i make the arms in a wetsuit. i can either not do anything to make it easier for you to recover and bring your arm back to the point of the catch, or i can make it easier, saving your shoulders a lot of work. if you feel it's more natural for your shoulders to do that work, fine, i'll make you that wetsuit. but i would think the "unnatural" method of making it easier for you to perform the work would be better.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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jhart wrote:
I am an older age grouper with a lot of racing experience.On and off for the past two years (75% of the time) I have been running in Hoka Bondi B's due to persistent Achilles problems. The Hoka's have helped my Achilles which seems fine - at least for now. Over the past year I had a number of hamstring pulls - primarily when increasing intensity. Just recently I went back to my old running shoes and the hamstring problem cleared up. I am beginning to think the hamstring pulls and the Hokas are related as the Hoka's change my foot plant from a forefoot plant to a midfoot plant. Has anyone else experienced this?
Thanks

Without seeing a video of your running gait at the pace you get injured at, and with similar fatigue levels, it's hard to draw any conclusions.

My best guess, is that as you increase speed, you are not increasing cadence and lengthing your stride too much, overstriding by reaching out with you foot, not by driving forward harder. As a result, your using your hamstring as a prime mover, rather than a stabilizing muscle or for high heel recovery necessary for high cadence and good economy.

You've also probably fallen into a trap where you are doing too much speed, with too much fatigue. Injury risk become exponential in that scenerio. You have to dial back volume and bike intensity when you ramp up running intensity. You can do all of them at once.

Just a broad assumption on the issues at play. I could be way off base.

I will say, the generally, a heavy Hoka Bondi, is a good shoe for high mileage, and a very poor shoe for higher speeds. Would you take a big block pushrod engine with a heavy flywheel tuned for towing and low RPM torque... and try and get top end out of it? OR take a smaller over square inline 6 that revs high and add a turbocharger? The 2nd may have higher risk due to higher effective compression ratios, but it will make a LOT more top end and flying apart won't be an issue.


TrainingBible Coaching
http://www.trainingbible.com
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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2 examples
1. Woman in a Hoka says her big toe goes numb. "What happens when you take the shoes off?" Numbness goes away. I put her in a similar shoe with more ramp I mean drop and a defined flex point. No numbness. Her big toe was not engaged and it went numb.
2. Woman complaining of calf issues. Was there a time when your calf did not hurt. Yes when I wore the Clfton. Was it comfortable? Yes, but xx running stores says I should be in stability. Are those comfortable? No she says. She was so happy when I told her to run in Hoka.

In both instances the runner was over thinking things.
1. Is the shoe comfortable if yes stay if no go.
2. Do I have "pain" not caused by a change in my running. If yes go to a different shoe if no stay with what's comfortable.

Dave Jewell
Free Run Speed

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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
i can't stipulate to a number of things you're asserting here. i don't mean to defend the construction of the shoe, but this ought to enhance not detract from midfoot plant. the idea of recognizing where the fulcrum in a running shoe is in a running shoe, and engineering your shoe with this knowledge in mind, is in a number of popular shoes. if you don't like this in a hoka you must hate it in a newton. every shoe has a fulcrum, the only question is whether the shoe designer recognizes it, and takes this into account.

second, i'd rather not call it a ramp because in my parlance a ramp means something, so let's figure out a way to talk about this using another term.

finally, the stiff toe push-off, i don't see or feel any of that. i don't know where you came up with that. i look at the fulcrum of a running shoe the way i'd look at how i make the arms in a wetsuit. i can either not do anything to make it easier for you to recover and bring your arm back to the point of the catch, or i can make it easier, saving your shoulders a lot of work. if you feel it's more natural for your shoulders to do that work, fine, i'll make you that wetsuit. but i would think the "unnatural" method of making it easier for you to perform the work would be better.

Dan, perhaps the larger question is "does a running shoe" require a fulcrum point. Let's take a soccer cleat or track spike with zero ramp. The fulcrum point is the athlete's natural ball of foot. My thought is "would the Hoka actually work better of the sole was the same thickness right to the toe?". This is the case of most altras, but not all. Or would the thickness of the sole limit the 'bend' at the ball of foot. believe the latter is the case, which is likely why the Altra Paradigm does have the "fall off" from ball of foot to toe off.

I think we can agree that if the toes are inactive, then the arch of the athlete is not used actievly either. Our arches are there for a specific shock aborption reason and also ingeniously designed for the push off phase. If usage of a Hoka style shoe allows one to get lazy in that entire chain then it stands to reason that everything up from there could be negatively affected due to timing and how the nerves are firing the muscles (or not).

Don't get me wrong, when I get back to running, I intend to have my hokas in the rotation, but I do believe that they allow you to run with a lazy foot/lower limb complex. I think over the long run, that's not a great thing if every run is in this type of shoe...having said that, if this type of shoe allows us to run vs not run at all, then by all means. It's just like me water running right now...better that than nothing at all.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Speedypee] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks. I know I have tight glutes and a tight lower back -even though i stretch often and use a roller- so I'll give it a try.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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Still not the original video I saw but pretty much the same and a very good demonstration of the stretch I'm talking about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MtC2GLeqaQ


If you do have very tight hips/glutes I think there's a really good chance this is leading to lots of your problems!!! When I first started do the stretch above I built up to holding each side for 5minutes! During this time I would move from one side to the other and back to the middle every minute or so, or once I felt the tight area was relaxing and opening up! Once you get into it it's a really pleasant therapeutic stretch to hold and feels good, legs feel super flexible and relaxed afterwards!

I've got nearly 30years of top level running experience and am completely convinced the hip/glute area being tight leads to so many running injuries. When we run our muscles have to react immediately to the under foot surface, and contract/relax muscles in perfect time to maintain an efficient running action and avoid over stress. Our central nervous system is effectively the legs/foots eye sight for this! Any impingement on the nerve supply to our muscles and our body is in trouble and isn't going to like it!

https://www.google.co.uk/...rc=YnUUf3DOk0qUjM%3A

Here's a picture of how complex our Ďassí is! If any of these muscles are tight and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, (piriformis the most likely culprit!) effectively youíre running with your eyes closed, maybe even worst!

Good luck and let me know how you get on!
Last edited by: Speedypee: Jan 25, 16 5:22
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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the fulcrum in a running shoe

Totally in the weeds for a forum statement potentially, but since you brought it up (that always was one of my most enjoyed articles, BTW)...

But exactly, fulcrums in a shoe do bear relevance even to the OP's statement, because the shoe fulcrum can influence more than what many realize. Overall feel, initial-contact to toe-off transition, contact time, etc. The Hoka shoe fulcrum location varies by the model. If the location allows for a change to the stride angle, this will change the hamstring dynamics, and could stress it. But, with every instance, it is subject-specific interventions and not the shoe itself. Rarely is it a bad shoe- only a bad fit to the individual run mechanics.

Good way to look at it is the shoe fulcrum has the largest effect on late-stance to toe off in a gait cycle (force, rate of force). Problem is, the shoe fulcrum needs to work in conjunction with the body fulcrum (ball of foot) and the later portions of stride length.

From the standpoint of pure force development when running, this is why the toe-off stride angle when sprinting or when elite endurance runners race and get a nice "triple extension," is often what many will say "looks right" when running to perform. Shoes that have been constructed for the masses and have been engineered around a fulcrum concept (Hoka, Newton) do well because they assist with getting runners to achieve better extension at the ankle during late stance when the knee and hip are "lazy" for the majority of runners, or ( I believe in your inj hx??) adjust the fulcrum enough from a previous or current injury. Totally different topic altogether, but this is why certain commercial approaches do so well when teaching runners a new or different form, is because it will change the fulcrum position by "short-stroking" the stride and getting the ankle stride angle at a biomechanical advantage. Problem is that the runner will eventually reach a glass ceiling with performance, because there is only so high the step rate can go.

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second, i'd rather not call it a ramp because in my parlance a ramp means something, so let's figure out a way to talk about this using another term.

100% agree...while we're at it, I'd be for getting rid of the current shoe categories and notion of minimal/maximal (no sarcasm here)...

http://www.reathcon.com
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [jhart] [ In reply to ]
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You have received a lot of responses to your initial question. But here is my take from my own experience; not saying it's the same as your current problem. But for whatever it's worth...

I was having issues when increasing mileage last year (issues just means tired and sore feet from the pounding, some superficial aches and pains). Not any specific injury. I went to an Altra equivalent of the Hoka (the Altra Paradigm I believe). At first the super cushioning was great and I just continue with my mileage push. All was good. However, as I continued running I then ended up with some new issues that crept up. Eventually I had to stop running altogether and went through the whole MRI, bone scan, specialist routine. It blew my race schedule and more importantly took away my enjoyment of running. After a lot of guesswork and dead-ends, it was determined to be a tight hamstring issue. A routine stretching regimen was "prescribed" and the pain-in-ass slow return to running began.

This is just a guess, but the ultra cushioned shoes allowed me to run further that my body was allowing me to. I'm not blaming the shoes. I'm blaming myself for "fixing" symptoms with the shoes. I used the shoes basically like a pseudo medical device for my sore feet. That allowed me to push other parts of my body that weren't at that time giving me issues. The hamstring thing actually was more about limited range of motion from repetitive exercises. So more cross training stuff would be good to accompany the stretching.

Anyway, I have since went back to my old running shoes. I still have the ultra cushioned shoes and I'll probably use them again for certain things. But I'm going to be a lot more cautious this year.
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [stomponafrog] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks - sounds a bit familiar. Also you raise a point that I hadn't focused on. That being that about 2 months ago I really stepped up my cross training - box jumps, squats, lunges and some kettle ball core work. So maybe the switch in running shoes was a factor in feeling better but my guess is that, as is usually the case with overuse injuries, multiple factors contributed to the problem and multiple changes in behavior helped solve the problem ( at least for now).
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Re: hoka-hamstring pulls [Speedypee] [ In reply to ]
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That stretch is what ballet dancers call a pigeon. It's more effective when it's done on the floor btw.

Next races on the schedule: Arizona RnR marathon 2022, Oceanside 2022, IMStG 2022, IM Florida 2022
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