An Unfinished Race
The three paragraph story is set in 1873. James Worson, a shoemaker who lived in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, undertook a bet, while under the influence of liquor, that he could run non-stop from Leamington Spa to Coventry, a distance of approximately 9 miles. He started to run, accompanied by the unnamed receiver of the bet, a linen draper named Barham Wise, and a photographer named Hamerson Burns, who followed him in a wagon. During the run, Worson stumbled and fell, "with a terrible cry", and vanished before he hit the ground. He was never seen again. The witnesses were suspects for a time.
"An Unfinished Race" was collected in the third volume of Bierce's complete works, which included the ghosts stories from his earlier book Can Such Things Be? The updated version included three new stories under the heading "Mysterious Disappearances", including "The Unfinished Race".
The legend of James Worson is often assumed to be true. His story is often included as fact on lists of unexplained disappearances.
Bierce himself mysteriously disappeared in October 1913.
- Morris, Jr., Roy. Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company. Oxford University Press, 1999: 262. ISBN 9780195126280
- Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories by Ambrose Bierce - a Project Gutenberg etext
- Direct link to the page of the book covering the James Worson incident