The Week That Was In Running: December 31, 2012 – January 6, 2013

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By LetsRun.com
January 9, 2013

To read last week’s Weekly Recap, click here.

This week we start off with three things that should prove to you that runners are officially weird eccentric. We then introduce you to “the future of Ethiopian distance running” before introducing you to Edwan Rotich – who got tackled mid-race and still won $25,000 + a car last week. Plus our hatred for Lance Armstrong continues and we wonder if Ashton Eaton would be nothing more than a D3 football star had he stuck with the gridiron.

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It’s Official: Runners Are Weird – Uh, We Mean Eccentric

Take a look at this:

A pet squirrel that makes road trips? Par for the course in distance running.

That is a photo of Jim O’Brien, the coach of Arcadia, the team that won the boys NXN high school team title in 2012. Yes, he apparently has a pet squirrel named “Three-Peat” (or is it spelled 3-peat?) that is viewed as a good luck charm and goes to meets with him.

However, Three-Peat doesn’t like to fly (or isn’t allowed to) so he had to go all the way from California to Oregon via car to see his boys triumph.

We have no idea how we didn’t know of this until we saw it on an end of year article on Runnerspace, where they were recapping some of the top stories from 2012. When then googled around a bit and found a letsrun.com thread on the squirrel and a video interview of O’Brien with the squirrel from Flotrack, from which we took a picture. The video is embedded below. We suggest fast forwarding to the 2:55 mark where the squirrel gets a bit antsy. Maybe he/she was upset that none of the questions had been directed towards him (or her) as he/she was the team’s good luck charm.

We imagine Flotrack doesn’t embed videos on YouTube because the ad rates are pretty low but they should make an exception in this case. We know we could help make this video go viral.

One Deadspin article entitled “Proof That Distance Runners Are Weird” and this thing will vault to more than a million views.

More: MB: Arcadia coach’s pet squirrel

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Still Need More Proof?

If the previous section didn’t convince you that a lot of distance runners are a bit out there, maybe these two stories will.

1)  If you think 25 laps on the track is a lot, then it’s a good thing you weren’t in St. Petersburg, Russia December 28-29 when they ran men’s and women’s indoor 10,000 at the Open Season Competitions – that’s 50 laps.

The results were as follows:
10,000m Men:
1. Artur Burtsev, 1988, 30:42.38
2. Aleksandr Krotovich, 1990, 31:35.72
3. Vadim Drozdov, 1986, 31:37.24
Women: 1. Mariya Malysheva, 35:51.21

2) Imagine running 100 miles in a single day. Quite a feat, right? Well, not if your name is John Fejes. Between December 29 and January 1, in 3 days (72 hours), he just ran 329 miles to break a record held by legendary ultra runner Yiannis Kouros. More: Joe Fejes Sets 72-Hour Mark of 329 Miles

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Let Imane Merga Introduce You To “The Future of Ethiopian Distance Running”

Over the years, LetsRun has identified some future stars way before the general public (one example here, another here). It’s normally pretty easy to figure out who is going to be a phenom way before the public figures it out.

This time, we’ll let someone else do the bold predicting for us. The person identifying someone as a future star should know what he’s talking about as he’s run 12:53/26:48 and is the reigning World Cross-Country champion, Imane Merga. Merga won an end-of-year 10km race in Italy – the Boclassic Sylverlauf in Bolzano on December 31st – where he just edged fellow Ethiopian Muktar Edris as both were timed in 29:12.

Check out what Merga told the IAAF after the race:

“I am happy to win after my third place last year. It was a very tough sprint. Edris was very strong. He is the future of Ethiopian distance running. It was great to win in Bolzano for the second time. The conditions were ideal for running and I enjoyed the race.”

When we see a quote like that, we pay attention.

Who is Muktar Edris?

Well, he is just 18 and last year he won the world junior title at 5,000 by a huge  margin – 1.55 seconds. Of course, you should win World Juniors by that much when you run 13:04 in Paris just 8 days prior to the World Jr. Final.

Of course, the more we think about it, Edris isn’t exactly young by Ethiopian standards. 2012 world #6 Hagos Gebrhiwet, who ran 12:47 last year before getting hurt and finishing 11th in the Olympics, is 117 days younger than Edris and Gebrhiwet crushed Edris by 2.4 seconds when they raced at the Ethiopian Jr. Champs last year.

****Mid-Week Update:****

Everything in this section above was written on Thursday. Guess what happened over the weekend? Edris picked up a big win at the 56th edition of the Campaccio cross-country race in Italy as he beat a bunch of names including John Kipkoech, who ran 12:49 last year, and 26:55 (2011) guy Geoffery Kirui.

2013 Campaccio XC Top 10 Results
MEN (10km)
1 Muktar Edris (ETH) 28:42
2 John Kipkoech (KEN) 28:42
3 Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) 28:42
4 Moses Kipsiro (UGA) 28:43
5 Berhanu Legesse (ETH) 28:52
6 Daniele Meucci (ITA) 28:59
7 Hosea Nailel (KEN) 29:09
8 Leonard Komon (KEN) 29:10
9 Andrea Lalli (ITA) 29:15
10 Scott Bauhs (USA) 29:19
2013 Campaccio XC Top 10 Results
WOMEN (6km)
1 Debele Degefa (ETH) 19:26
2 Afera Godfay (ETH) 19:26
3 Veronica Nyaruai (KEN) 19:34
4 Kim Conley (USA) 19:36
5 Alem Gebremariam (ETH) 20:05
6 Milcah Chemos (KEN) 20:06
7 Silvia Weissteiner (ITA) 20:22
8 Tizita Bogale (ETH) 20:33
9 Giulia Viola (ITA) 20:33
10 Fatna Maraoui (ITA) 20:44

Kudos to Americans Scott Bauhs and Kim Conley for getting over to Europe to race. We’ve always thought from a physiological standpoint a runner should have two peaks. So get out there and race in the winter and then again in the summer. Sitting at home and training is boring and not lucrative – so not good for the runner. And it’s not good for the fans either if runners only race once or twice per year.

There were a lot of other Dec. 31/January 1 races besides the Boclassic Sylverlauf in Bolzano, which you can see links about below.

More: *Imane Merga (29:12) Barely Wins As Syliva (16:21) Kibet 3-Peats At Boclassic Sylverlauf In Bolzano American Scott Bauhs was 5th in 29:32 just behind Sergiy Lebid.
US: Delilah DiCrescenzo And Christian Thompson Win 2013 Emerald Nuts Midnight Run In Central Park *MB: Emerald Nuts Midnight Run Top Results *Emerald Nuts Midnight Run Video
Worldwide: LRC Other End-Of-Year / New Year’s Day Action Of Note That No One Wrote An Article About (Kogo, Soi, Lalli, Kipsiro, Etc.)
Angola: 59:47 Half Man Atsedu Tsegay (28:17) & Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist Priscah Jeptoo (32:31) Win 57th Sao Silvestre de Luanda Race In Front Of More Than A Million Spectators The race offers $145,000 in prize money and the men’s title went to the guy we talked about recently in the WTW. The weather was HOT (86/30 WITH 72% humidity).
Spain: Tariku Bekele (28:29) And Gelete Burka (30:59) Dominate 48th San Silvestre Vallecana The women’s race was expected to be a battle between Burka and Linet Masai but Masai was WAY back in 2nd in 32:13. *Article On Race Translated From Spanish
Japan: After Slow Start, Konica Minolta Comfortably Beats Toyota Kyushu To Win 1st Title Since 2008 At Japan’s New Year’s Corporate Ekiden *IAAF Recap
*Nittai University Wins First Hakone Ekiden Title In 30 Years *Hakone Ekiden Day 1 Recap *Full Results
Brazil:
Kenya’s Edwin Kipsang Rotich (44:05) And Maurine Jelagat Kipchumba (51:42) Win São Silvestre 15km In São Paulo
Austria: Leonard Komon Shatters Course Record In Peuerbach New Year’s Eve Run Komon, the 10k road WR holder, edged junior 10k bronze medallist and 26:55 guy Geoffrey Kirui. In the women’s race, European junior XC champ Amela Terzic edged 2:19 marathoner Irina Mikitenko.

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Performer Of The Week - Edwin Kipsang Rotich

Edris may have had a good week, but he’s not our performer of the Week. Far from it.

Kenya’s Edwin Kipsang Rotich is the LetsRun.com performer of the week for the first week of 2013.

The previously basically unknown Kenyan has had a good few days. On Dec 31st, he picked up a cool $24,537 by winnning the 88th São Silvestre Road Race in
São Paulo, Brazil – the world’s most celebrated New Year’s Eve race – with a 44:04 15km clocking. A week later on January 6th, he picked up a new car by winning the 29th Corrida dos Reis – or King’s Run for you English speakers – in Buiaba, Brazil with a 30:05 clocking on the difficult uphill course which has a net 25 meter elevation gain.

Even if it was hot and uphill, we know many of you may be thinking, “Is a 30:05 10k really worth a new car?”

Yes it is, as shown by the video below.

Rotich was tackled, broke free and went on to grab the win. Very impressive.

If anyone could appreciate a runner not being fazed by an attacker tackling the runner mid-race, it should be the Brazilians, as their very own runner – Vanderlei de Lima - famously shook off an attacker while leading the 2004 Olympic marathon, and still held on for a bronze medal.

Vanderlei de Lima gets accosted while leading the 2004 Olympic marathon.
Photo by Victah Sailer

More: Kenyan Rotich is tackled as he leads 10km run in Brazil … but still goes on to WIN race after shaking off attacker
MB: Was Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima better than Meb in 04′ Athens Olympic Games?
*Meb Gets Silver in Marathon, Leader Attacked by Deranged Spectator Sports Illustrated
*
Editorial: Vanderlei de Lima Represents Olympic Spirit Washington Post

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Other News Of Note

The marathon of the week definitely was the Xiamen marathon in China, which featured a high quality men’s field and lots of exciting lead changes. First, last year’s runner-up Dickson Chumba, who went on to run 2:05:46 later in 2012, making a bid for glory at 30k, then there were multiple surges to the lead by 2010 world junior 10,000 bronze medallist Paul Lonyangat before ultimately Ethiopia’s Negari Terfa, who was running the race for the 5th straight year, was the surprise winner in a new course record of 2:07:32.

More: *Negari Terfa Wins With A CR 2:07:32 As The Former Record Holder Peter Kamais Was 5th (2:09:53) Fatuma Sado won the women’s race in 2:27:35 as 2:21 woman Eunice Jepkirui was 2nd in 2:30:00. *Preview Of the 2013 Xiamen (China) Marathon

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Ashton Eaton – A D3 Football Player?

With the American football playoffs heating up, there has been a lot of NFL talk on the message board of late. There was a very popular thread on the board last week entitled:

Football players are the best athletes on earth–you’re an idiot if you think otherwise

That thread fit in perfectly with an article we came across on Oregonsports.com from Oregon, where the “World’s Greatest Athlete” Ashton Eaton expressed his admiration for pro football players.

When Eaton was asked by the Oregon Journal if a decathlete wasn’t considered the “World’s Greatest Athlete” then who should get that title, Eaton responded via email that it should be probably go to an NFL defensive end - just ahead of a running back according to Oregonsports.com:

“I’ve always thought they (defensive ends) are the most athletic people on the football field. Some of them are as fast, jump higher than, and are stronger than running backs. It’s kind of scary if you look at some of their statistics,” wrote Eaton.

And Eaton should know. Eaton has American football in his genes as his maternal grandfather played at Michigan State, and Ashton himself was a former high school football player who was good enough to get recruited by some D3 schools. He once rushed for 140 yards in a game as a junior.

Now we know some track enthusiasts might be a little bit depressed to think that the “World’s Greatest Athlete” could only barely cut it as a D3 football player. We sure were and thus we tried to find some proof that he’d at least be able to be better than that.

And did we ever find it. We found a NBC 16 television interview of Oregon’s football coach, Chip Kelly, who is regarded as one of the top coaches in the game, from this summer when Kelly said the following about Eaton’s football prospects:

“I think about it all the time. I wasn’t here when he got here but I think, ‘Why didn’t anybody recruit that guy?’ He’d go both ways for us. He’s got the endurance to go both ways … He’d be a receiver/safety type guy. We could put him to good use.”

Of course, we guess the world is full of cynics who probably would point out that Kelly is a smart man who was bound to say good things about Oregon’s golden boy as there is no chance he’d want to upset super Oregon benefactor Phil Knight who founded Nike.

We do know one thing. At 6’1″ and 185 pounds, defensive end would be out of the question for Eaton, who would probably need to bulk up to play safety – and a ton to play defensive end.

More: “World’s Greatest” doing a sack dance? If it weren’t a decathlete, Ashton Eaton looks at football players as next in line
*Reporter Remembers Covering Game Where Eaton Rushed For 140 Yards As A Junior
*MB: Football players are the best athletes on earth–you’re an idiot if you think otherwise
*More Football MB Talk: *Discussion of WSJ article that said Adrian Peterson could only run 12.98 for 100m
*Adrian Peterson BelievesThat He Can Beat Usain Bolt

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Jacob Hernandez Calls It A Career

Last week, two-time NCAA 800 champion Jacob Hernandez, who has been struggling with injuries of late, called it a career at the age of 27.

Jacob Hernandez holds off Andrew Wheating at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Photo by Mike Scott for Race Results Weekly.

His career may not have lasted as long as he would have liked, but there certainly is more to recap for him than most who leave the sport.

Hernandez first came to prominence 10-plus years ago in 2002 when he won the Texas 4A 800 title as a sophomore before winning the 5A title (that’s the largest) as a senior with a stellar 1:48.48 clocking. He then went to TCU, where he ran 1:47.96 as a freshman, but TCU was hit with massive NCAA penalties and he in turn filed suit against TCU to try to get them to release him so he wouldn’t have to sit out a year when he transferred to UT. We’re not sure what happened with the lawsuit, but in the end he ended up sitting out 2006 before first competing for UT in 2007.

He will always best be known for the 2008 NCAA outdoor meet when he beat future Olympians Andrew Wheating and Duane Solomon in an absolute thrilling race to capture the NCAA crown in a new PR of 1:45.31, which would remain his lifetime PR.

Re-live the drama of that race below:

As a senior, Hernandez showed that the 2008 win was far from a fluke as he crushed Wheating at indoor NCAAs by .50 in a dominating performance, which came just one day after he barely made the final as the last qualifier. However, outdoors Hernandez was injured and was unable to defend his NCAA crown.

Hernandez’s injury – a torn labrum of the hip – was pretty serious and he never was able to regain the form he showed in 2008 as he never ran faster than 1:46.51 as a pro.

More: Two-Time NCAA Champ From Texas, Jacob Hernandez, Officially Retires At Age 27 “Today, I announce my retirement from track and field. Ray Lewis and I decided, its time to go.”
*LRC 2008 NCAA 800 Recap *Race Video *LRC 2008 NCAA Photos
*Retirement Video Interview With Hernandez

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What Are You Looking Forward To Seeing In 2013?

Last week, we asked you what you were looking forward to for 2013. The men’s 800 and men’s 100 – where the two Kings of the sport in Rudisha and Bolt will try to hold off a young challenger (or young challengers in the case of Rudisha) – will certainly be the mainstream media’s focus. We agreed wholeheartedly with the email we got from Bennett Naden, a 3:52 1,500 and 9:17 D3 steepler. He is looking forward to something we very much share as well:

I am looking forward to watching our American guys continue to improve. In particular, I am excited to see what German Fernandez does, and whether he makes it to worlds in something.

Anything that you are looking forward to? Email us.

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Lance Armstrong Might Confess/We Explain Why We Are So Obsessed & Hate Him So Much

Last week, one of the non-running topics that we had up on the website was that Lance Armstrong might already be ready for a doping confessional. As we stated on the message board, we think that ultimately a confessional by Lance is an almost foregone conclusion, as the guy is an egomaniac who was willing to use drugs and the cancer movement to make himself into a global brand. It simply doesn’t get any worse than that. He has to confess ultimately to get back being a public figure – albeit a greatly reduced public figure.

But a confession right now? Give us a break. Even Lance’s paid PR people should realize that more time needs to pass for it to look like an honest act of contrition, but we’ll see what happens next week when he sits down with Oprah, who did a terrible job of asking Marion Jones tough questions.

Lance might even be more pathetic than we thought, as one of the reasons cited for possibly giving a confession is so that his lifetime ban from sports by WADA would be reduced so he could do his triathlons. If we didn’t already know that Lance’s autobiography “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” was a total fraud – this proves it. It’s all about the competition for Lance. Well, if it’s just about the sport, go do a triathlon by yourself. Why do you need to compete in an official competition? You are a Masters athlete – act like one – not like someone whose ego has to be stroked by placing high in some amateur age-group competition.

Along those lines, we thought we’d share the following excerpt from a column by AOL FanHouse columnist Dan Steele, who just ripped Lance last week:

Revelation after revelation about who he truly is and what he truly did to those who dared stand up to him, all made clear one real truth. Lance Armstrong is small. He’s a small man. He’s the very definition of smallness in a human being.

He’s no champion. He’s no hero. He’s no role model. He’s no inspiration for genuinely suffering human beings who wrestle with mortality, pain, loss and the temptation to make wrong into right, to make the righteous end justify the dishonorable means.

Lance Armstrong is nothing more than a liar, a cheat, a thug, a bully. He draped himself in the American flag, adorned himself with the trappings of a great sportsman and posed as a general in the war against cancer.

To maintain that image, that façade, that phony veneer, he treated other human beings like garbage. He manipulated them, threatened them, insulted them, slandered them, misled them, wiped his feet all over them.

There’s nothing big about that. That’s small. Weak. Soft. And fake.

Steele’s column on Lance is right on. However, it might not have even been the best piece written about Lance as Dan Bernstein‘s mock letter from Lance Armstrong to his fans (A Letter From Lance Armstrong) was great as well.

A few people think we have devoted too much time to Lance. We disagree for two reasons.

1) Frauds simply don’t get any bigger than Lance.

2) The takedown of Lance Armstrong – the ultimate big fish – by USADA shows that there is hope for the anti-doping movement. Only a truly independent, investigative body could take down Lance. No way it happens in the NFL, NBA, etc.

More: *MB: RE: Breaking News: Lance will admit he doped *A Letter From Lance Armstrong *Related MB Discussion: An open letter from Lance Armstrong to Letsrun.com *Steele: Lance Armstrong: Caught in web he created, cyclist deserves no sympathy *WP Say They Also Have A Source Confirming Armstrong Went To USADA To Talk About Confessing But Claim Talks Have Stalled Now *WADA Director Says He Has Not Been Approached By Lance Armstrong About Confessing *Another NY Times Article Speculating On A Possible Armstrong Confession *NY Times Article Says Lance Armstrong Is Considering Confessing And Has Even Met With USADA Head Travis Tygart *Even Now, Armstrong Still Not Without His Defenders

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Recommended Reads

*Julia Bleasdale Races After Two Months Of Altitude Training In Ethiopia With Stints On Bekele’s New Track The woman who was 8th in both the 5k and 10k at the Olympics has become good friends with Meseret Defar and Haile G.
*400m Hurdle World Champ Dai Greene Has Finally Put The Nightmare 4th Place Olympic Finish Behind Him And Is Using The Pain As Motivation For 2013

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Quote Of The Week That Wasn’t Quote Of The Day

Asafa Powell on how he knows his “best race is yet to come” even though he’s already 30″:

“When I ran the world record, I wasn’t training much. When I don’t train much, I stay healthy, and this year I was training a lot, that’s why I got hurt.”

More: Asafa Powell: “I know that my best race is yet to come.”

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Quotes Of The Day From The Week & Last Week’s Homepages:

Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date on the left. The quote’s hyperlink will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.

Monday 1/7: “It was kind of embarrassing. I fell on my chin in a race before Christmas and I fell on my arse this time. It’s the first time I’ve done it in a live televised race. I had to concentrate on getting back up because I felt kind of stupid.”

- Ireland’s European XC champion Fionnuala Britton, talking about how she fell during the last lap at the Edinburgh XC race on Saturday. She still managed to get up and win by 16 seconds leading Europe to the team victory.


Sunday 1/6: “I was actually there on Super Saturday. I got to see Jess, Greg and Mo. It was quite funny, because I’d had a Thai curry at the stadium and got food poisoning. I started feeling a bit queasy and faint. I saw Mo’s first two laps in the 10,000m, then ran to the toilet and was literally puking up. When I came back I was standing in the gangway breathing into a sick-bag, watching Mo run the last five laps. I had to watch it – and it was electrifying. It was the highlight of the year.”

- UK distance runner Steph Twell, talking about watching Mo Farah win his Olympic gold in the 10,000 on “Super Saturday” in the London stadium. Twell missed most of last year with injuries, but had a good comeback race yesterday, placing 13th in the Bupa Great Edinburgh team XC race.


Saturday 1/5: “Today, I announce my retirement from track and field. Ray Lewis and I decided, its time to go. I’d like to say something cool, more than ‘its been a great ride’, but all things considered it has taken me places that I never thought I would go. Mentally and physically.”

- University of Texas alum and two-time NCAA champion, Jacob Hernandez, announcing his retirement from track and field at age-27. In the 2008 NCAA meet he beat out future-Olympians Andrew Wheating and Duane Solomon.


Friday 1/4: “Usain I want you to lose, Usain you are bad, you are an arsehole.”

- Statements allegedly yelled by Ashley Gill-Webb, who then threw a Heineken bottle at Usain Bolt. After the race, the deranged man just wanted to know whether Yohan Blake had won or not.


Thursday 1/3:“Our country is not like other countries. Silver and bronze in our country is no better than finishing fifth or sixth.”

And

“I want to do something special, that is historic and unforgettable. Especially in the Olympic marathon, I want to compete there. I believe that is what is left for me to achieve.”

- Tirunesh Dibaba talking about her Athens 2004 Olympic 5,000 race, where she won bronze, and looking ahead to the marathon in Rio 2016.

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Wednesday 1/2: “Imagine for a minute that David Rudisha didn’t exist. LetsRun.com would be full of buzz about 18-year-old Nijel Amos, who ran 1:41.73 in the Olympic final – a year after having a PR of 1:47.28.

If that doesn’t impress you, realize the Olympic bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum, was only 17 when the Olympic final was run and he ran 1:42.53. If those guys improve much at all, Rudisha is going to have his hands full. And the guy who has beaten Rudisha in each of the last two years and also run 1:42.53, Mohamed Aman? He’s only 18 as well.

We’re not predicting a Rudisha demise, but the 800 is clearly one of the events people should be most excited about in 2013.”

- LetsRun.com writing in our first weekly recap of 2013. 2012 is in the books so it’s time to get excited for some great 2013 track and field action. What are you most looking forward to in 2013? Email us and maybe we’ll feature it next week.


Tuesday 1/1: “I was paid to finish second. I admit that it was fixed. (British Athletics promotion director) Andy (Norman) paid me to finish second. He told me: ‘Make sure you don’t win.’”

“Everyone was scared of Andy. He dominated the sport. He could do what he wanted.”

“That night, an hour before the race, he came up to me and he said, ‘The people here have come to see Seb Coe win. They don’t care about you.’”

- 1:44 800 runner and former European Jr. champ Ikem Billy talking about how he was allegedly paid $10,000 to throw a race to Seb Coe on Coe’s last year on the circuit.