Damian Clemons has completed the 2022 FLRC 100K Ultra Challenge!

@Challengers, the second FLRC 100K Ultra Challenge completion is in the books for 2022—kudos to the determined Damian Clemons (@DamianClemons), another of our Ultra Challenge finishers from last year! Damian took an almost completely different tack from Jami Landry and Paul Maza, the weekend’s other Ultra Challenge finishers. He started at 6:08 AM with Taughannock Rim & Falls, and followed it up with a quick Sweet 1600 (on the Trumansburg track?), before working his way through downtown and east out to Dryden, leaving Brookton Hill & Dale and Lick Brook & Treman FLT for the end. Overall, Damian’s times were pretty sprightly, until he took 6:28:34 for his final Lick Brook & Treman FLT in the dark, at the end of a long day and a lot of miles. We’ll see what he reports about that one. His running time was, assuming my math is correct, 14:38:43, and his elapsed time was 21:36:34, well under the 24-hour cutoff.

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Great Job Damian!!!:tada::tada:

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Congrats Damian!

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So impressive!!! Congratulations! :tada:

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How is it possible that with all this planning and forethought I am staring at the night before the ultra and still not in bed yet? You told your wife you were going to bed really early tonight to get a good head start in the morning. Now she is already in bed and you’re still sorting through your socks. Should I put it off? It’s only going to keep getting hotter, and there are just too many other long races coming up. Pack the stuff in the vehicle, take a quick shower, and get to sleep before this goes completely off the rails.
I really don’t feel like I’ve been sleeping that long, but I can already hear the birds chirping. I better check the watch. Ouch, 4:30am already! So much for an early start. Guess I didn’t have to worry about hitting Taughannock before sunrise. At this rate it will be noon before I get there. Get your coffee made, warm up your oatmeal, and get cracking.
It’s nearly 6am and I am just now pulling into Taughannock. Wasted at least 30 minutes of daylight. Won’t be needing the head torch for this one. Feeling good though, so better start rolling. I’ve never been up this far on the rim … it sure is nice. The trail comes right out onto the road. Wait that’s strange, why is the sign telling me to go right, back down should be east (left). Trust the sign. Oh, I see now. It curves around under this little bridge. It’s all downhill for a while. I better take it easy on the descents, these legs need to last all day. Near side of the bridge! Hell with that, I’m going all the way to the end to get that view. Oh look, we are back at the crazy stairs. This is that Strava segment that Dawson completed in 14 seconds. How is that humanly possible? I don’t even think I could fall down them in 14 seconds. Ok, lets scan this thing in and get on to the next one. What a beautiful course to see the sunrise from.
I guess its time to head into town. Wait, I should try and do the track in Trumansburg. Yep, its just a few minutes up the road. I hope the thing isn’t locked. I’m sure Adam would be laughing hysterically if he knew that the majority of my anxiety for the 100k has been centered around the 1600m track run. It would be great to get it done and out of my mind. Here we are, not a soul in sight. Let’s get this done quick before someone comes to tell me I don’t belong here. I wonder if these guys develop asymmetries from running counter clockwise all the time. This surface is amazing. So easy on the joints. Done … now get in the car and knock out Inlet Shore.
Shouldn’t be any navigation issues here. We just did this trail last weekend. I’ll wear my Winter Chill long sleeve in the spirit of it. Oh look, that woman running towards me looks familiar. Yup, that’s the one that would always pass me every week with a mile to go at the Winter Chill’s. She must really have those negative splits down. Damn the flowers around this path are beautiful. You couldn’t ask for better conditions for a run. There’s someone rowing down the inlet. Should get a picture of that. The temps are rising quickly though. Wow, that’s an amazing mural. How can someone do that at that scale and make it look so realistic. Incredible! Well that one flew by quick. I better run through Green Star quick to relieve myself of this morning’s coffee and maybe grab a bite to eat. Breakfast sandwich, a cookie, and let’s soak up some more of that tailwind. If there is anything I am not going to screw up this time it’s the hydration.
The temps certainly did climb quick. Should I get Lickbrook over with, or should I head over to CBG? If I do Lickbrook now, I’m going to be saddled with that hydro pack in the heat and I won’t be able to go shirtless or I’ll get chaffed up pretty good. Not to mention it will probably take a minute per mile if not more off all my other course times if I do it now. Worst case, If I make it to Lickbrook last I can just do a slow run-hike and 15-16 mins per mile no matter how tired I am. That settles it. CBG Next, Lickbrook for last. With any luck it will be the only course I will need the head torch for.
This place is just beautiful and it is not even close to peak yet. Let’s see …. The map indicates the trail starts just where Arboretum intersects itself. Well, here I am and I don’t see the trail. Oh, is see… I passed it about 10 yards back. No big deal, cost me maybe half a minute. Just need to make sure I follow the script and bounce between trail and road and back again. Definitely need to come back here and explore all these little micro-trails. Hey I remember this climb from last year. Just steep enough that I can’t plant my heels. Easy on those calves, there’ll be a lot more climbing later on. Now for the tricky part. This maze of trails on the map that are after the parking lot. Something just doesn’t seem right. I shouldn’t be running along a stream. Let me consult the GPS. Yup, I missed the turn at that building. Going to have to retrace my steps by quite some ways. That’s definitely going to cost some time. Ok, now this looks right. Where are those stairs I am supposed to be looking for? Perfect, right where I need to be. I’m really excited to see what this Beebe Lake looks like. Woah, it is beautiful down here to. Neat little bridge. I better pick up the pace to make up for lost time. As long as I don’t botch that transition after I round the one parking lot I should be in good shape. Let’s hustle back to the vehicle, the pictures will have to come another day. The Dryden trail is just a stone’s throw away. No sense in going anywhere else until I get that one done. Drink up, stay hydrated.
Ok, it is definitely hot now, the sun is out, and it is time for shorts. Time to shed the shirt as well and put some sunscreen on. That’s just great! I no longer have the arm mobility to be able to get all of my back. If only my wife was here. Quite a popular trail today, look at all these people. Let’s see how quick we can blast the northeastern leg of this out. Owwww! Man did I nail my toe on that rock. Practically a paved portion of the trail and I still trip on a rock. Ug. Hard to get lost on these rail trails. Trains don’t make hard turns. Turnaround sign already? Feel like I just got started. Time to retrace. Vehicle is still there. Right turn Clyde! Hey this looks familiar. Smells like the back stretch of the SCC. East hill rec brings back some memories. Last time I was here I was shivering, delirious, and searching for 24hr laundries. This mile always feels longer than a mile. Second turnaround sign. At least the return mile counts this time! Still feeling good. It’s time to go running in the pastures. Half the courses in the bag but far from half the mileage.

This is definitely different. Feels like a farm run. I can’t understand why people keep complaining about the mud. Doesn’t seem that bad to me. Ohh! Well, I guess that spot is pretty soupy. All and all though it’s just that one spot … oh … I guess that spot to. Good thing I wore my dreaded Brooks for this one. This course makes me feel like I’m a real life Pacman. Cursoring left, right, up, and down. Just need giant white orbs to swallow as I run. Good thing I ran this course through my head a few times, there are a lot of ways to go sideways out here, literally. Ok, yes… it’s seriously muddy out here. Glad to get this final leg over with, there is no shade in sight. Time to drink some more and dig into that watermelon. Seriously, is there better aid station food than watermelon? I think not!

Ohh. I just passed an ice cream place. That is exactly what I need right now. I’m turning around. Chocolate vanilla twist in a cone. That hit the spot. This Jim Schug trail coming up looks boring. Where’s all the road side parking? It’s still early, might as well just park at the Agway. Ok sir, yes, I will move my vehicle across the street. I’m confused. No problem with taking up their parking spaces when they are open, but can’t take up their parking spaces when they are closed? Oh well, at least I won’t return to find my vehicle towed. Hey, this trail is actually quite a bit more interesting than I was anticipating. I have seen more wildlife on this one than of all the others combined. Tons of waterfowl. I’d be happy to do this one again a few times. And look at me … still squeezing out 9 minute miles this deep in. A long way to go though, let’s not get too cocky. I should have left the shirt in the car, it’s way too hot. I’ll just have to stuff it in my pocket. The turnaround is behind me now and it is time to see it all in reverse. Hey, that’s my vehicle already. That went by in a flash. And what luck, I didn’t realize that I parked right next door to yet another ice cream place. But I just had ice cream. I can’t have ice cream before and after the same run can I? Let me think here. Ahh yes … Milkshake! That’s practically an energy drink. There’s got to be electrolytes infused into those cream molecules. This is definitely my kind of aid station. What a way to stay hydrated! Rats, my Muddy Sneaker shirt must have fell out of my pocket. Ain’t going back for it now.

Finally, back to Hammond. “Hi honey. Yes, the reception is awful here. I’ll try to call you back when I get out of here. Yup, I’m doing well. Just three to go.” We are at peak heat so the tree cover and cool woods should be a welcome treat. A little sore now but not quite at the 40 miles mark yet. Still over a marathon to go. I’m going to go with the hand held bottle on this one, the high drainage Teflon socks, and no hat this time. Let’s get cracking! Last time I ran here I was wearing flippers. Sure does seem easier on foot, but not nearly as adventurous. Hey wait, why is my watch not updating. You moron, you forgot to start your watch. GRRRRRRRR. Alright, you’re less than a mile in. Let’s just jog back and do a restart. Let’s try this again. Restart webscorer and start watch and GO! Definitely didn’t need this extra 1.5 miles to added to the journey. Yay me, I’m back where I had to turn around … THUMP … AHHHHHH. Another rock. Now I’m in the middle of the woods, flat on my back, throbbing toe, and my legs are cramping up because of the shock and muscle clench from the fall. I’m like a turtle turned over on its shell. Look, another runner is coming over. How embarrassing. “How you doing there?, Yeah I’m alright! Just lying here on the ground like a dumbass. Sure, I could use a hand getting up. Appreciate it. No really I’m fine. Plenty of water, plenty of food. I have done this before … really, I promise. Thanks for stopping, and watch out for that rock.”. Let’s see if I can make it out of here in one piece. That rock was sticking up pretty far though. Got to pick up your feet. You can’t marathon shuffle on a trail. Ah… top of the hill. Mostly down from here on in. Doh! Down again. You have to be kidding me. That rock was as thin as a penny. You just tripped over a penny! How are you going to traverse LickBrook when you’re tripping on pea stones? At least I’m not on my back this time. Up and at em. Hey look, it’s the dude from before. “Hi again… yup still alright … going strong … definitely staying on my feet … enjoy your run!” There’s the little shed already. Home free. Just two more to go, and plenty of time to get Brookton done in full daylight.

That was a shorter drive than expected. Cute little spot. Nice! They have a tent out front with some live music. Better grab a gallon of water while I’m here. Oh Boy. Didn’t know how knotted up I was until just getting out of the vehicle. Not a great sign. Gonna have to figure out how to change my shoes and socks without cramping up. This “happy toes” stuff works miracles. My feet are in great shape still. Going to give the toe socks a go on this one. I better use the porta johns out back before hitting the road. Ah man, I feel rain drops. Hate to say it, but I think I’m going to break out the hydro-pack for this one. I don’t want to shake that damn bottle in my hand like a maracas for the next 10 miles. This first mile is not too bad, but I know a hill is coming up soon. Yes, the fatigue has finally settled in. I’m going to have to back off the pace. Maybe take some walk breaks up the hills. I’m still keeping it under 11 per mile, so it shouldn’t cost me too much time as long as the breaks are short. Lots of people around here seem really unhappy about zoning. Lots of places around here with dogs that really don’t seem to care for having runners passing by either. They better get used to it because I am sure I won’t be the last. Wow, already made the turn and still managing an overall 10 minute pace. 13 hours in and 9 courses done. Almost 11 hours left on the deadline.

Let’s plug Lickbrook into the GPS and put this to bed. If I keep good pace I could be home in bed by 11. Damn I feel awful though. Too much tailwind? Not enough solid food? These leg cramps are getting pretty intense. My hamstring feels like it is trying to snap itself. Oh, boy….this isn’t good. My right leg is spasming and I can’t hit the pedal. Gonna have to pedal with the left foot. Wonder if the cars around me just heard my yells of pain. They probably just think I’m singing along to the radio. Change of plan. I’m going to head over to Wegmans instead and try to regroup. Feeling really sick now. This sucks … I’m not going to get much of any daylight for Lickbrook now. Ok, in the Wegmans parking lot now. Let’s try and take a short rest here in the vehicle to see if this sorts itself. Yea, it’s just getting worse. I can feel the runs coming on. I better go inside and use the bathroom. Yikes, I can barely walk. This doesn’t bode well. Bathroom break is over and I am really glad that didn’t happen in the woods. There is just nothing I want to eat right now. I don’t understand … I did a great job of keeping hydrated the whole way. Where did I go wrong this time. “Hi honey. Yes, I’m in a parking lot trying to rest. Honestly, I don’t think I am going to be able to finish this thing, I’m feeling pretty lousy. I’m going to try and nap some more and see if anything improves. I’ll keep you posted. Bye”. Ok, the napping seems to have helped. At least I don’t feel like I am about to throw up anymore. Unfortunately, it is full dark now. Let’s get over to Lickbrook and gut it out. I don’t want to leave this unfinished or it is just going to bug me until I do.

Empty parking lot. At least it is off the road a bit. I really hope nobody messes with my vehicle while I am in there. This drizzle is turning into full on rain. I feel chilly as well. I am going to have to wear the rain coat for this one, with the hoodie and shirt under it. Damn, I can’t find my running pants. I’ll just throw on these sweat pants over my legs. Think I’ll break out the poles for this as well. Time’s a wasting, lets get a move on. Even under the cover of dark this is a beautiful trail. Look at all the Mayapple. Look at all the Trillium in bloom. It’s so peaceful and quiet in here. If I were going to have to walk somewhere in the middle of the night, this isn’t a bad spot. Rat’s, I must have missed a turn. I’m too far north. Gonna have to double back and find the trail again. That’s not to bad. Probably added a couple tenths but nothing horrible. Hey, I think I just got buzzed by an owl. That thing flew right over my head. That’ll wake you up! Even with the rain, now that we are moving it is way hotter than I was expecting. I am sweating like a pig with all these layers. Bigs mistake overdressing. I’m going to have to shed some of these layers. This rock will be perfect. Not crazy about having to carry the coat and hoodie, but it is much better than being a walking sauna. I should be getting close to the turnaround, that should cheer me up. Only problem is, at this pace it is going to take me over 5 hours to get this done. Maybe I can try and jog a little to make this less of a slog. Nope, that ain’t happening. Anything beyond a small 5 degree swing of the legs and those cramps just lock in like nothing. Finally, the turnaround! Pretty remote for spot for it. It is going to be a long night. No sense in wasting time, just keep trudging. Relentless forward progress. Ug, too much foreign material inside my shoes. I better take care of it before it takes care of me. What If I cramp up and can’t get my shoe back on? Almost happened at Brookton. It is worth a shot. Ahh…. That is so much better. About three miles to go before I get back to the vehicle. Every mile I am going slower. Even on the downhills. Good thing I left nearly half a day to finish the last course because it looks like I am going to need all of it. I hear the cars on the main highway. What a relief, I must be almost to the car. This vehicle has never looked as beautiful as it does right now. Time to shed the hydro-pack and all this extra stuff I’m carrying. I shouldn’t need it for the last three miles. I should probably do some foot care too. A new pair of socks and one last application of Happy Toes. Feet are still in great shape and I want to keep it that way. Maybe just a wee nap before continuing? No, let’s not tempt fate. Get it done… Sleep when you get home. Off I go! This doesn’t seem right. All these trails dead end on the river. I’m missing something. I going to have to double back again and see where I screwed up. Rains picking up. Not really what I need right now. Back to square one again. Yep, I should have just kept following the FLT signs. I should know better by now. Then again, I’m not exactly clear of thought at the moment. Hey, there’s the bridge. Yikes, this is a legit train bridge. A skipping along the ties kind of bridge. I better take this real slow and deliberate. It’s wet, I’m loopy, and it doesn’t look like a fun drop. That wasn’t too bad. I think the big climb starts soon now. Somewhere up here there should be some blue blazes. Yes, there they are. Up the stairs we go. Up the stairs we go. Up a few more stairs. Oh look, more stairs. Seriously, are those more stairs? Am I climbing Everest? No please, no more stairs! Alright, seems to be leveling out a little. A LITTLE. A road, that’s a welcome sight. I think that puts me about half way up. If this thing is actually 13.1, then I should be about ¾ miles to the sign. A lot of people have been chirping that it is 14 though. I don’t know if I have 14 in me. Wait, this sign doesn’t make sense. It says the road is back that way. Trust the sign, like you did at Taughannock. Alright left here. No, these trails are all dead ends. I better sit down and call up the map. Yep, I definitely should not have trusted the sign this time. I was going the right way. I’ve got to get up that hill and back on the trail. What’s a trail course without a little bushwacking anyhow? Man, this hill is steep. Ahh… there’s the trail. Back on course. Let’s not do that again, must have cost me at least another 20-30 minutes. The wood seems to be narrowing. I must be nearing that clearing. Yes! Just a few hundred yards now, then all downhill. There it is. Never has a turnaround sign looked this beautiful. Oh wait, I just said that about the last one! Looks like it was 14+ miles after all. My goofs haven’t added that much. Quitting isn’t an option now. I just need to make it back. It sure is easier going down, but I sure am dogging it. I need to watch my footing in the rain. There’s that sign that messed me up. Come on, no wonder you imbecil! It was talking about the road you had already crossed, not the one coming up. I deserve my fate on that one. Back on blue blazes. Just zone out and get down these stairs. Legs are not liking these declines one bit. Back on the bottom. Less than a mile to freedom. Just need to get across that bridge again. Woa! Watch it there. That is three times you have tripped on a tie peg. Get with it man. That’s it. Not much left for me to screw up. There’s the sign. Let’s scan this in and get the hell out of here. One last picture for posterity. Almost six and a half hours on this one. I only spent eight on the other nine courses total. At least its done. Now we just need to get home.

I’m too sleepy for this. I’m going to pull over here and rest. These drives home are brutal. How long have I been out? An hour…… yikes! You should be good to go now. Get home and get some rest. Ah…… home sweet home. Do I wait to truck all this stuff in the house or do I just bite the bullet and get it over with? Might as well get it done. Take a shower before bed to, that will make you feel better. Let’s hit the scale and see the damage this time. Wait … what. Twelve pounds! With all that I just ate and drank I still lost twelve pounds. No wonder I was cramping and nauseous. I’m completely dehydrated. The one thing I absolutely thought I had nailed and totally botched again. But I drank so much! I’m going to have to get this figured out if I am going to keep doing these. It’s a wonder I am still functioning. Just didn’t factor in the higher early pace I guess. Might as well soak down another glass before my head hits the pillow. This bed feels heavenly. If only the sun would stop rising. I wonder how long it will take me to fall asleep? ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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A nice spot for the 1600m


Greenstar Breakfast



Some views from Inlet Shore.


The roving aid station. Way more than anyone would ever need.


Therapy!


More carefully targeted hydration. Really hard driving past all the breweries.


Party going at Brooktondale.


I’m a believer in this stuff. My feet were perfectly fine afterwards.


Look ridiculous don’t they. Can’t say that they help much over normal trail socks, but they certainly didn’t seem to hurt either. The jury is still out on these.


Part ultramarathon, part scavenger hunt searching for these things. This is the one on the east end of Lickbrook.


I am way happier in this picture than my face lets on. The final scan!

Lessons learned:

I still don’t know how to stay hydrated.

If you wear the right shoes, socks, and trim your toenails down as much as possible, your feet will be fine. Shoes with wide toe boxes (Altras) have been a game changer for me.

Ice Cream is not scientifically proven to enhance performance in endurance running, but pretending it does sure does make it more fun.

You can’t plan for everything. You should still be as prepared as possible.

It is probably smarter to have run all of these courses at least once prior to attempting the Ultra. It just adds the potential of adding extra mileage to a day that already has too many miles. If only I were more inclined to take my own advise.

Stats:

I lost 12 from weighing in that morning to returning the following morning. That’s a lot even for me.

I spent nearly as much time on my feet at Lickbrook (6.5hrs) as I did the entirety of the other 9 courses combined (50.6 miles in 8.00hrs).

I drank roughly 12 liters of tailwind and water throughout. It wasn’t nearly enough.

I had oatmeal and coffee before I left, a breakfast sandwich, ice cream, milkshake, banana, watermellon, cheese, and some sliced deli ham. I never really felt “low energy” or that I didn’t have enough food.

Per Garmin, I took around 110,000 steps.
Per Strava, the 10 courses totaled about 5670ft of elevation gain and loss.
Total mileage per Strava (not counting the false start at Hammond) 64.76 miles.
A few small gaffs at CBG and Lickbrook likely added somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 miles.
All of my time estimates prior were within 12 minutes of actual except Lickbrook.
I came in 38minutes under budget (better than estimated) for the first 9 courses.
I came in 217minutes over budget for Lickbrook.
Brookton was the only other one that my estimated time was longer than my actual, by about 4 minutes.

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Heck of a story, @DamianClemons—thanks! I’m certainly no ultra runner, but it sure doesn’t seem like you ate very much for even a normal day, much less one where you run that much. I’d wonder how many calories you took in and if it was enough.

Regardless, a huge accomplishment, and you’ll have a sign waiting for you at the award ceremony.

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I always struggle with eating when running an ultra. I don’t want to eat when I’m out on the trail (I will literally carry a piece of food in my hand for MILES rather than consume it), but when I’m at an AS (or driving between courses) I’m too focused on other things to eat, especially if I’m worried about cut offs or chasing a PR. But it can negatively impact me later on, thats for sure.

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Damian, that’s amazing! Thank you for sharing your story. I was watching through the night and into the morning for that final course. What a great accomplishment!

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Congrats Damian! Great running play by play commentary!!

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It was so fun to read your race recap, @DamianClemons!! Congratulations on finishing! Sounds like it was quite the adventure, especially with all the ice cream and milkshakes! :sweat_smile: If you were to do it again, would you leave the FLT Treman-Lick Brook segment for the end again? That course is a leg toaster and seems like there’s no good place for it in the 100km challenge. :grimacing:

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@Marschmi that’s a great question. It really is like you said, this is no good spot to slot Terman-Lickbrook in. It’s a tough trail. I hadn’t even originally committed to doing it last until after Inlet Shore. I did not have a rigid sequence of courses going in, and wanted to play it by feel. At the time I was sustaining a pretty good pace without much effort and didn’t wat to risk derailing that by going to Lickbrook and being flat for the rest of the courses. Most of my other plans actually did have Lickbrook as either first or second in order, and then doing all the courses in a more counterclockwise fashion. I don’t regret saving it for last. Had I done a better job of keeping myself hydrated and maybe just backed off the pace a tiny bit earlier on I should have been able to slog my way through it in well under 3 hours. But who knows, I might still try starting at Lickbrook! I have a 100k coming up in August that is basically like Treman-Lickbrook, only over the entire 64 miles. So I need to get conditioned for it one way or another.

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This was very fun to read. Congrats on finishing especially with the hills of the Lick Brook course

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Thanks for your response, @DamianClemons! Good luck with your 100k later this year. Cheers!

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Even as an Ithaca local who’s familiar with all of these locales I’m running them all at least once to get familiar with them. There’s several where I know the area but would struggle to run the specific routes without directions or a map.

Nice average pace on those first nine. I enjoyed reading this and it’s given me some ideas about what order to run the courses when I attempt the ultra. Congrats again!