Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)
TITLE: The Hare and the Tortoise
By Andrew Rees
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The hare was a tall, clever, smartly dressed creature, who proved his athletic abilities by running quickly between places, finishing well ahead of his opponents. He would challenge his fellow creatures to a race, and then tear away from them to come first, so proving that he was the best. He was good at most things – cookery, music, and football to mention just some. Many thought him one of the finest creatures they had ever known in the village. His fame had begun to spread before him.
The tortoise by contract was a slow plodder – in fact everything he did was slow, from eating to speaking to moving. When he walked, he wouldn’t move any quicker. Some called him stubborn, or just too old, but he had a pleasant , friendly personality. He was three times the hare’s age.
So when someone suggested that they race together, most people saw it as a foregone conclusion. The hare would win hands down. Why waste time doing this? Maybe the aim was to humiliate the tortoise, or see how big the victory time gap could actually be. A date was put forward, a distance of 10 miles decided, and the contestants told to be ready for 10 o’clock. The hare sighed – this would be easy.
The day and hour arrived, a small crowd gathered, and a loud cry of ‘Go’ started them off. It was a warm day. The hare sped away, and was over the horizon before the tortoise could manage ten paces. This was evidently no contest. When the hare made the first mile mark, the tortoise had moved 200 yards, and the gap was increasing by the second. At thirty minutes, the hare sped past the 5 mile mark, half way round and cruising.
And so it was that the hare began to lose interest and slow down. At 9.5 miles, with the race virtually won, the hare climbed a long hill and decided to rest at the top. He was so far ahead, with the finish in sight, but rather than sprint the remaining yards to secure his victory, he stopped under the shade of a large oak tree, intending to wait some ten minutes before resuming his run. With all the time in the world to finish, he was full of confidence, considering the race all but over. However, he suddenly felt weary and found it hard to keep his eyes open. As he lay his head back on the grass, he soon fell asleep.
Some hours passed. The tortoise, who took 45 minutes to complete each mile, passed the 5 mile mark after the hare had been asleep three hours. He kept going in his slow methodical way, never giving up despite being sure that by now that he was well beaten. The race had to be run regardless. Another three hours saw him at the 9 mile mark, not far behind the hare, who was still fast asleep. Gradually he drew level, and soon inched in front. There wasn’t far to go now - another 20 minutes would see him finish.
Fifteen minutes passed. The hare began to stir, and half opened an eye. With a start he jumped up, unaware how long he had been asleep. I haven’t finished yet he thought, and sped down the hill. As he rounded the final bend, there in front of him was the ‘FINISH’ banner, but there also three paces away from it, was the tortoise. The surprised crowd were going wild. Here was an unexpected contest. The hare pinned his ears back and belted for the line, but it was all too late. Just as he approached it, the tortoise crossed in front of him and claimed the prize. The hare had lost. Realisation was slow to set in – he had never lost a race before. He felt like blaming everything else, but knew deep inside that he had only himself to blame. The tortoise meanwhile was generous in victory and congratulated the hare on a fine effort. The slow steady approach had won the day.
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