United States Axemens Association
                Rules and Events               
The purpose of these rules is not to dictate how any given organization should run their contests, but rather to act as a guide for organizations to consult, regarding their questions and concerns as to operation of a typical lumberjack contest in North America.


A Head Judge (customarily someone who has had some experience competing in Lumberjack Sports) is appointed by the show administration.  The head judge's job is to enforce the rules, and he/she shall have the final say in all matters pertaining to the enforcement and interpretation of the rules.  The Head Judge must ensure that the chopping blocks and sawing positions are fairly drawn and that each competitor is issued the correct block.  The Head Judge must ensure that any competitor guilty of rule violations or poor sportsmanship is disqualified or appropriately penalized.  The Head Judge must ensure that NO PERSON, other than the participating competitor, wedger and timers shall enter, or be within, the competition arena during the actual running of any event.  The Head Judge must ensure that any competitor in violation of the slab rule (under the discretion of the individual show) or any competitor cutting through "footholds" is disqualified, and also that any competitor who jumps the gun is disqualified.

The Emcee must attempt to make his/her cadence ("Timers ready? Contestants ready? 3-2-1-GO!", or any variation) as consistent as possible, to ensure that no competitor is advantaged or disadvantaged.

The Head Judge must ensure that the timers are accustomed to timing Lumberjack events, and that they know exactly when to start and stop their watches.  There should be at least two timers assigned to each contestant, with the average of the two watches constituting the contestants final time.  Note, that if there is a large discrepancy between the two times, the head judge should determine which time is more representative of the contestant's actual performance and use only that time.
The Timers are to judge time according to the rules of the individual show.  Customarily the commencement of timing for the Underhand, Standing, and Springboard chopping events occurs when the axe hits the wood or when the Head Judge or Emcee's cadence reaches the word "Go" and ends when the block is completely cut through.  Customarily the commencement of timing for Hot Saw, One-man Buck, and Two-Man Buck occurs when the Head Judge or Emcee's cadence reaches the word "GO", and ends when the "Disk" is severed from the log. Starting prior to "Go" is considered "Jumping the Gun" and is normally grounds for disqualification.  It is under the discretion of the Timers and Officials if a contestant is to be penalized or disqualified for "Jumping the Gun".  It should be stressed that no favoritism should be shown to any competitor, and that the same rules apply to everyone.

Indication of disqualification for any infraction should be made to the competitor immediately upon reaching that decision and should be no later than 5 minutes after the conclusion of the event.  It should be made verbally by the Timer (or by the Head Judge) directly to the competitor.

Customarily NO PERSON, other than the participating competitor, wedger and timers, shall enter or be within the competition arena during the actual running of any event.

Novice competitors and those under the age of 16 years should compete under the supervision of an accomplished axemen.  An exception to the rule against non-competitors in the competition arena should be made for these coaches.
It is also recommended that the inexperienced competitor wear shin and toe guards during the chopping events, to decrease the chance of injury.

Standing Block dummies and Underhand cradles should be at least eleven feet apart, and at least eleven feet from the competition arena fence.
Axe throwing targets should face the crowd (competitor's back toward the crowd) or have sufficient backing to protect the crowd in the event of an overthrow or ricochet.
All axe heads should be pinned.  Over time, axe handles will tend to shrink as they dry out due to heat and natural aging.  As this happens it becomes more likely that, during the course of an event, a slippage or even total loss of the axe head could result.  The pinning of the axe head will stop the slippage.  This is done by drilling a hole through the axe head and handle, and placing a small "spring-pin" in the hole.  The "spring-pin" is then dubbed over or flattened on the ends to avoid the slipping of the pin.

To increase the professional appearance of lumberjack contests in the United States the following dress code is recommended.  Contestants should wear long pants, not shorts, when competing.  These pants should be a solid color such as black or white (not denim colored blue jeans or sweat pants).  Black pants have become traditional in the US, while competitors in Australia and New Zealand are required to wear solid white pants.  All competitors should also be required to wear a shirt or singlet when competing.  It should be noted that, as sponsorship of the competitors increases, it is becoming increasingly problematic for contest organizers to require the wearing of specific, contest provided shirts.  The USAA now recommends that the wearing of contest provided shirts be optional for each competitor.

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BLOCK SIZING: all blocks must be properly sized, to be within 1/4 inch of the desired circumference, prior to the drawing of the wood so as to not give an unfair advantage to any competitor.
DRAWING OF THE WOOD: a random drawing, by either the competitor or a disinterested third party, should be used to determine assignment of all blocks to be chopped.
SLABBING: a slab is defined as a portion of a log which has been dislodged, as a result of an axe blow, which splits off to a foothold or to the end of the log.  Any competitor who creates a slab and has not taken the necessary precautions to prevent slabbing, to the satisfaction of the Head Judge, shall be disqualified unless he or she cuts the slab during the course of the event.  Acceptable precautions against slabbing include the use of 4 or more nails on each side of the block or heavy rubber banding to attempt to hold the potential slab in place.
FOOTHOLDS: any competitor cutting through any foothold placed in a round log shall be disqualified.
STRIKING OF BLOCK: a competitor should not be allowed to make any advantageous mark with an axe prior to the formal cutting of the block, (an advantageous mark is defined as a striking of the block, in any manner possible, in the area that is to be cut during the competition).
SHAVING OF BLOCK: a competitor may remove bark or loose fragments of wood and grit from his or her block, only under the supervision of the Head Judge.
TIMING: commences when the axe hits the wood (or when the guns sounds or when the emcee says "GO" - this is dependent on the individual show), and ends when the block is completely severed.
PLACEMENT OF BLOCKS: for safety reasons, all contestants should finish facing the spectators.

UNDERHAND CHOP:                                                                                            Picture
The axe must remain on the wood until the count of "one" in the count down, time begins when the axe hits the wood and customarily ends when the block is severed.  Contestant may stand on top of the block or on the ground. Judges will determine if the block has been completely cut.  If the block is moved, kicked or disturbed before inspection by a contest official, the contestant will be disqualified.  Slabbing of the block or the cutting of an established foothold will also disqualify the contestant.

STANDING BLOCK CHOP:                                                                                  Picture
Time begins when the axe hits the wood and customarily ends when the block is severed or when it hits the ground.  Block is to be fastened in an upright stanchion or dummy supplied by the contest organizers.  It is the responsibility of the contestant to make sure that their block is properly secured to the top of the dummy.  Running of a chip to the top of the block (slabbing), without proper precautions, will be grounds for disqualification.  The first hit on each side should be in an upward direction.

SPRINGBOARD CHOPPING:                                                                               Picture
Time begins when the axe hits the wood and customarily ends when the block is severed or when it hits the ground.  All Springboard poles should be as close to nine feet tall as possible (108 inches).  The competitors are to use two "springboard's" to ascend the pole and then chop a block which is firmly attached to the top.  The blocks are to be cut from both sides, with a chip being taken in both the front and the back.
All springboards must be balanced without the use of any hanging device by placing it into a notch chopped into the pole.  Competitors cutting into or through existing board holes may be disqualified.  Under certain conditions i.e., no more room on a given pole, the head judge may determine if the competitor is to move to another springboard pole or is to "climb" at the corner of an existing hole.
It is the responsibility of the contestant to make sure that their block is properly secured to the top of the pole.
No competitor gets a second chance, unless the Head Judge determines that the competitor has been unintentionally wronged.
Contestants may not be physically assisted by any other person during the event.
No test "board-holes" will be allowed by any contestant into the springboard poles until after the completion of the contest.

Hard Hitting events may be either Underhand or Standing Block chops.  The object of this event is to determine which competitor can cut his block in the least number of hits.  Time is kept during this event, but is only used to break any ties that may occur.  Competitors chop one at a time, with a count of the blows being maintained by the Head Judge (including any penalty blows which may be assigned).  Penalty blows may be assigned for the illegal wrenching or prying of a chip.  Customarily the wrenching of a chip must be the completion of a blow and must not be done by putting the axe back into the block.  Wrenching is defined as the deliberate sideways or pivoting movement of the axe head by the competitor, while still in the cut, with the intention of assisting the breaking off or removal from the log of any wood, irrespective of size.
A competitor removing chips by hand or deliberately prying chips with the axe may be subject to disqualification.  If a chip is in the scarf in such a way that, in the competitors opinion, it would be dangerous to place another blow, permission may be requested from the head judge to remove it with the axe head.  The Head Judge's decision is final.  If permission is granted to remove the chip this should not constitute a blow.
In the event of a tie, placing shall be decided by the fastest time.

A Combination Chop is the cutting of an Underhand Block immediately followed by a Standing Block Chop. Timing is continuous through both chops.  Wood sizes typically used for this event are 10 or 11 inch diameter blocks.

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TWO MAN BUCKING:                                                                                          Picture
Time begins when the emcee's cadence reaches "G0", and ends when the "Disk" is completely severed.  Contestants may have a helper to wedge the disk away from the block and to lubricate the saw.  The helper should stand on the log side of the saw when possible.  The helper must not touch the "Disk" at any time during the event other than with the wedge.  Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.
  The height of the block is dependent upon the size of the wood but should fall within these guidelines:  the top of the block should be between 30 and 36 inches from the ground and the bottom of the block should never be less than 10 inches from the ground (preferably 12+ inches).  The exception to these guidelines would be 30 inch wood the top of which would be 40 inches from the ground.
  "Starting cuts" may be allowed with block sizes of 16 inches and larger.  The size of the starting cut is determined by the contest organizers and is based on the diameter of the log and measured by the length of an arc on the top of the log.  For 16 inch wood the arc should be no larger than 8 inches.  For 18 inch wood the arc should be 10 inches.  For 20 inch wood the arc should be 10-12 inches.  For wood sizes over 20 inches the arc should be 12-14 inches.
  Contestants may question the location of starting cuts (if given) designated on or near obvious knots.  Alternative location of the starting cut will be decided by the head judge.  Knots encountered thereafter will be considered luck of the draw.  Cutouts will disqualify the cut.  Slabs of half inch or more must be severed before time stops, if not severed, the cut will be disqualified.

JACK AND JILL BUCKING:                                                                                 Picture
Same as the Two Man Bucking, except requires the participation of a male and female competitor.

Same as the Two Man Bucking, except requires the participation of two female competitors.

ONE MAN BUCKING:                                                                                           Picture
Same as the Two Man Bucking, except requires the participation of only one competitor.  No weight or device may be hung on the free end of the saw.

One or more cuts will be made with a saw whose blade will be 50 inches or less between the pin holes and will be secured on each end to a "bow saw" frame.  Saw frames are to be in no way weighted.  Wood for this event is typically no larger than 12 inches in diameter, and is secured with the top of the log between 30 and 36 inches from the ground.  Contestants are normally allowed 2 inches of wood per cut and must make their cuts within the designated area.  In case of a partial cut, another cut is allowable; timing is continuous.

HOT SAW RULES:                                                                                                 Picture
There are many variations in the restrictions for this event and it is left up to the discretion of the individual contest to decide which apply.  Among the possible restrictions are: a) Open Class in which the saw may be of any manufacture including snowmobile, motorcycle, go cart and chainsaw.  Restricted to one cylinder, pull start saws. b) Modified Stock in which the saw must have originated as a chainsaw which was then modified.  c) Stock Appearing in which the saw must have originated as a stock chainsaw and still appears to be one although it may be highly modified "under the covers".  Tuned exhausts and uncovered carburetors would not be allowed.  In each of these cases the power saw will be of contestants' choice but limited to one cylinder and must be manually started by the pulling of a cord.
Each Hot Saw may be used by only one contestant per contest.
Each saw should include a sprocket cover to keep thrown chains with the saw.
Excessive filing of the chain "side plates" should be disallowed for safety reasons.
Shields of some type should be used in front of and behind each competitor to protect the spectators in the event of a saw blowing up, or a chain breaking.

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GENERAL AXE THROWING RULES:                                                                Picture
The center of the bull's eye is to be exactly 60 inches from the ground.  The foul line is 20 feet straight out from the bull's eye then down.
Points will be scored in the highest point ring into which the axe has penetrated. If both points stick there should be no points given for that throw.  The axe must stick in the target until the Judge removes it or instructs the contestant to do so.
Contestants must stand behind the foul line.  The axe must be released before either foot crosses the foul line.
The axe must be double bitted of at least 2-1/2 pounds and have an overall length of no less than 24 inches and no greater than 40 inches (as measured from the top of the eye to the end of the handle).  The blade width should not exceed 6 inches.  The single sticking edge of the axe will be the scoring edge.
One practice throw and a minimum of 3 throws for score.  If the contestant does not wish to have a practice throw it is his/her responsibility to inform the judges before starting his/her first throw.
As noted earlier in Safety Precautions, the area behind the target must be kept clear of people in an area of at least 30 feet deep by 20 feet wide.  If at all possible a "backstop" should be used.
It is up to the judge to carefully "back-out" the axe head if the axe is on the borderline of a higher scoring ring.  The contestant should not be allowed to touch the axe handle until the judge has scored the throw.
Note that there is a lot of variation in targets throughout North America.  The following should only be considered as a guideline.  The target should be approximately 36 inches in diameter with five scoring areas, 4 inch bull's eye with 4 inch width rings.  The bull's eye shall score 5 points, the next outside area 4 points, the next 3 points, the next 2 points and the next 1 point.  Alternatively the target could be 20 inches in diameter with a four inch bull's eye and 2 inch rings.  This option will decrease the number of ties to be thrown off.  Ties for placement should be broken by a one throw, "sudden death" format.

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This is a timed event carried out by a team of two competitors.  The size of the log should be determined by the show, but it should be noted that the log should not be overly large as the object of this event is for the team to "read" the log and efficiently guide it along its path.  The contestants are to roll the log a distance of 40 feet and strike two separated stakes with the log.  The contestants are then to roll the log back to its original spot, again striking two separated stakes with the log.  The Course should be laid out such that the stakes at each end are set apart from each other by one foot less than the length of the log to be rolled.
No contestants should be allowed to watch other contestants roll the log prior to his/her competing.

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SPEED CLIMBING RULES:                                                                                  Picture
This event will be judged on time.  Timing will begin with the starting signal and will end when the climber returns to the ground after he/she has climbed the required distance and strikes the bell with his body or any part of his/her equipment.  The required height of the sparring pole will be of the show's own choosing.  In a one way climb, the time will end when the bell is rung.
There will be no restrictions upon the type of descent except that no climber shall be allowed to free-fall or slide more than 15 feet without setting a spur.
The contestant must have at least one foot on the ground or starting platform at the starting signal.
A high topped footwear of climber choice, preferably boosts, must be worn.  Gloves, climbing belt and spurs may be of the climbers own design.
The climbing rope must be at least 7/8 inch diameter with steel cord.  The side used for Tieing-in and adjustments must be free of snaps.  One climbing rope is to be tied at all times and two ropes are to be used if it necessary to cross guy lines.
Contestants will alternate trees in a two day show if two trees are use. In a one day show, if two trees, contestants will draw for the tree.
Note that it has been found that the best place for the bell is about 12 inches from the top of the tree on a safety line, guy line or cross arm.  It is recommended that foam padding be used at the bottom of the spar poles.  If foam is not available then sawdust may be used.

This event will be judged on time.  Timing will begin with the starting signal and will end when his her cut hits the ground.
The contestant must have one foot on the ground or starting platform at the time of the starting signal, the other foot may be ready to begin the ascent.
The contestant must make his cut in the starting cut nearest to the top of the tree and must cut the top of the tree completely off, pushing it to the ground immediately upon sawing through.
Climbing ropes specifications are the same as speed climbing.  Equipment specifications are the same as speed climbing.
The contestant must lower the safety rope, if one is used, after he/she has made his cut to clear the starting cut for the next contestant.  Failure to comply will result in loss of time for the particular day.
The amount of wood to be sawed in the contest should be 40 inches in circumference.  Again, The height of the tree should be of the show's own choosing.
Once the cut has begun, the cut shall be completed before coming down or before the next competitor begins.

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The obstacle pole shall be 36 feet long with an 8 inch end recommended. The pole rest on another log causing the end to be 5 feet off of the ground. Starting with one hand on the starting point designated by the show, the contestants hand must not leave the starting point or touch the saw before the command "Go". On "Go", the contestant pick's up the saw, mounts the pole below the bottom 4 foot mark on the pole, races up the log and starts the saw after crossing the top 5 foot mark then severs a disc at the end of the pole (or more than one disc at the shows discretion). Upon severing the disc(s), shuts off the saw before re-crossing the top 5 foot mark, races down the pole, one foot must be below the bottom 4 foot mark on the bottom of the log before touching the ground. No part of the foot may touch the bottom mark. Return to the starting point to end the time.
Mounting or dismounting the pole above the bottom mark, starting or stopping the saw below the top mark will result in disqualification.
For two day shows, the contestants must alternate poles.
If a cutting area is marked on the pole by the show management, the contestant may only sever the disc in the allotted area.
Contestant's must carry the saw until time is stopped for the event.
Neither the contestant or the saw can touch the supporting log in any way.
The size of the chokers and the arrangement of the logs are the option of the show. The course shall stay exactly the same for two day shows.
World Championship chokerman race course and size shall remain consistent for the contest where it was held.
Starting log and setting log will be the same log and shall be raised four feet off the ground. Time starts on "Go". Contestants leave the setting log, race over center obstacles, get choker, race back over obstacles, set choker on the starting log and return to touch closest obstacle log. Time stops when the contestant touches the closest obstacle log. Judges will test each set choker by slowly pulling on the choker. A choker set not properly made will be disqualified. Setting the nubin on the wrong side of the choker bell is also an automatic disqualification.
Footwear of the contestants own choosing may be worn
Contestants may not "lasso" choker around the end of the set log.
Shows should not arrange a choker race in a manner that is hazardous for the contestant.
Competitors should have at least a 12 foot wide lane each.
One false start will be allowed per race per competitor before disqualification.

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CUSTOMARY BIRLING RULES:                                                                        Picture
(this was taken from the ILRA) Note that there are slight variations in CANLOG's, ILRA's, and ALA's Birling rules.
LOG I = 15 inches in diameter and 12 feet in length.  Time: 2 minutes for men's open, men's novice, and amateurs. Women do not use this log.
LOG II = 14 inches in diameter and 12 feet in length. Time: 4 minutes for men's open, men's novice.  3 minutes for amateurs. 2 minutes for women's open, women's novice.
LOG III = 13 inches in diameter and 12 feet in length.  Time: 6 minutes for men's open, men's novice.  4 minutes for women's open, women's novice and amateurs.
LOG IV = 12 inches in diameter and 12 feet in length. Time: Unlimited time for all.
Each log has a 6 inch center band, the neutral zone, which log rollers cannot step on without losing a fall.  There are 6 inch warning bands on each end, and Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV on the ends.
All logs must be lathe-turned to the specific diameter with a 1/2 inch plus or minus tolerance.  The log must be of red or white cedar.
CONTEST: All contests in all divisions will be run on a modified double-elimination basis.  The contestant who takes first place will have not lost any matches.  The contestant who takes second will have lost only to the first place finisher.  All other contestants who have lost one match can take as high as third place.
JUDGES: There must be at least three judges per match. One will act as referee, starting and stopping the matches with a whistle and a stop watch to keep time.  Two will act as pole handlers.  When a fall occurs, the referee will make his/her decision and then ask every pole handler separately for his/her decision.  In the event that a match moves out of the viewing range of judges, the referee should stop the match and reposition either the judges or the rollers.
MATCHES: 1. The referee starts each match.  Competing rollers grasp pike poles after getting on the log and are pushed from the platform.  The referee cautions rollers, "steady the log." When he/she is certain both rollers have equal control, she says, "Throw your poles." The match is on when the referee blows the whistle and continues until a fall occurs or until the time limit expires.  If a fall occurs before the time limit is reached, or if the match is stopped by the referee, the clock resumes where it was stopped, the referee must stop the match by blowing the whistle anytime there is an obstacle within 6 feet of the log.
2. The referee may recall a quick whistle.
3. If one or both rollers fall in before the time starts, they must get back on the log immediately, without leaving the immediate vicinity of the starting dock.  A contestant may lose a fall or be disqualified by the referee for purposely jumping in the water before time is started, or for delaying the start of a match.
4. A match will be decided by the best two out of three falls in regular consolation matches.  In the semifinals and finals of the open division the contest is decided by the best three out of five falls.
CHOICE OF ENDS: If both contestants cannot come to an agreement on which end of the log they want to start on, then a coin toss will be used.  The loser of the next fall will then have his/her choice of ends.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A FALL: A fall takes place when: 1. The first person to lose control with both feet and falls in loses the fall.  This often happens in conjunction with both rollers falling in together.  The judges must then decide who was the first to lose COMPLETE control of the log.  Jumping up to prolong hitting the water, straddling, sitting, falling to both shins, and laying across the log are considered out of control with both feet.
2. A roller steps on the center line.
3. A roller purposely jumps in the water before time is started or delays the start of a match.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A DRAW: A fall will be ruled a draw if the judges cannot see specific and noticeable difference in the fall.  A judge must make a decision after a moment of recall.  No discussion of the fall will take place between the judges except to the response as to who won the fall or if the fall was a draw.  If there is the slightest doubt in the mind of the judge, it should be ruled a draw.  The decision from the judges may be split in which case the majority call rules.

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East Coast:
Small regional contest:  Logrolling, Crosscut Sawing (double bucking and jack & jill), Bow Sawing, Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, and Axe Throwing.
Major contest:  Logrolling, Crosscut Sawing (double bucking, single bucking and jack & jill), Bow Sawing, Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, Standing Block Chop, Springboard Chop, Tree Falling, and Axe Throwing.
Central US:
Small regional contest:  Crosscut Sawing (double bucking, single bucking and jack & jill), Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, Standing Block Chop, and Axe Throwing.
Major contest:  Crosscut Sawing (double bucking, single bucking and jack & jill), Bow Sawing, Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, Standing Block Chop, Springboard Chop, Axe Throwing, Pole Climbing and Birling.
West Coast:
Small regional contest:  Crosscut Sawing (double bucking, single bucking and jack & jill), Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, Standing Block Chop, and Axe Throwing.
Major contest:  Crosscut Sawing (double bucking, single bucking and jack & jill), Hot Saw (chainsaw), Underhand Chop, Standing Block Chop, Springboard Chop, Axe Throwing, Pole Climbing, and Birling.

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8X8 square, 10X10 square, 10" round, 11" round, 12" round, 13" round, 14" round, 15" round.
Minimum block length:
8x8 sq. to 11" round = 22"
12" round to 14" round = 24"
8X8 square, 10X10 square, 11" round, 12" round, 13" round, 14" round, 15" round
Minimum block length:
8x8 sq. to 12" round = 24"
13" to 14" round = 26"
12X12 square, 14" round, 15" round, 16" round, 17" round, 18" round
Minimum block length:
12X12 sq. to 15" round = 26"
15" round to 18" round = 28"
10x10 square, 12" round
8X8 square, 10X10 square, 10" round, II" round, 12" round, 13" round, 14" round
Minimum block length:
8x8 to 11" round = 22"
12" to 13" round = 24"
8X8 square, 10" round 11" round
minimum block length : = 22"


8X8 square (2 or 3 cuts), 10X10 square (2 or 3 cuts), 12" round (1 or 2 cuts), 16" round, 18" round, 20" round, 24" round, 30" round (1 cut).
16" round, 18" round, 20" round, 24" round. Normally one cut regardless of the size wood.
8X8 square (2 cuts), 10X10 square (1 or 2 cuts), 10" round (2 cuts), 11" round (1 or 2 cuts) 12" round (1 cut).
8x8 square, 10X10 square., 12" round, 16" round, 18" round 20" round, 24" round, 30" round. Normally three cuts regardless of the size wood used.

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