An Unfinished Race

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"An Unfinished Race" is a short story by American Civil War soldier, wit, and writer Ambrose Bierce. The story, dealing with a mysterious disappearance of a man, was first published in The San Francisco Examiner on October 14, 1888 and was included in Bierce's collection Can Such Things Be? (1893). Bierce himself mysteriously disappeared in October 1913.

"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".[1]


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 11 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.


  1. ^ Morris, Jr., Roy. Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company. Oxford University Press, 1999: 262. ISBN 9780195126280

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